Daily Tips for Modern Living

For the non-stencil mavens in the crowd, finally, the lifestyle lampoon you’ve been waiting for. Daily Tips For Modern Living is a six-pack of half-hours from Halifax-based Salter Street Films for the cbc which its producers hope will be the ‘next big comedy from Salter Street.’

Daily Tips was conceived by exec producer Michael Donovan (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, codco) when he happened to catch an episode of Martha Stewart Living in which Martha makes viewers feel inadequate with a helpful recipe for chicken broth that was a three-day exercise. ‘It sounded so irritating, and it was too funny not to do something about it,’ says Donovan.

Skits per episode vary between four to six, using the structure of a lifestyle show ­ that skips from how to plant gladiolas to sending the perfect Christmas card ­ to anchor the spoof.

Greg Thomey plays Ernie Post, the hapless host pictured on the cover in a ‘how-not-to’ obtain a driver’s licence segment which entails turning nasty and ramming his examiner in a bumper car after failing his driving test.

Via phone, Donovan describes the on-set experience as they shoot the how-to prepare supper episode. ‘It takes place in his apartment, I’m standing outside beside his car, which is a 1966 Rambler. Everything g’es wrong.’

As to character insight, ‘Ernie Post is a typical Canadian, earnest, helpful, oblivious, enterprising, inventive, a fumble bum and a fool; but very serious and very well-intentioned.’

And in answer to a query as to the ultimate fate of supper and whether pyrotechnics are involved, Donovan replies, ‘we’re subtle, no blowing up of kitchens.’

‘Everyone is serious in order to preserve the reality of a lifestyle show. It’s just that the audience might think, ‘Wait a second, it d’esn’t seem to be that helpful.’ ‘

Bill Niven, vp operations for Salter Street Films International, is partial to the carry-on baggage skit, in which luggage that was never meant to go on an airplane somehow gets past boarding scrutiny and drives everyone on the plane crazy.

Shooting in Halifax from June 23 to July 18, the series for the cbc is poised to continue Salter Street Films’ record of supplying the pubcaster with inimitable Cancom, and this one will also strike a universal chord, assuaging the raw nerve of all those who find the helpful hints on The New Red Green Show more doable than those from Martha Stewart and her ilk.

The adventures in self-helplessness of star/writer Thomey (22 Minutes) is abetted by cowriters Mark Farrell (Newsroom), Tim Steeves (22 Minutes) and Christian Murray (Jest In Time).

Street Cents’ Matt Gallagher is directing, Marilyn Richardson (22 Minutes, Hallelujah) is producing.

Time elapsed from the proposal going in to doing the deal with Phyllis Platt, George Anthony and Slawko Klymkiw, was a mere few months. ‘The speed of making decisions is very fast now,’ says Donovan. ‘Whereas before it would take years to develop, now it takes months.’

The budget is just over the $100,000 per episode mark, and delivery is set for fall.

As to the impact of having only six episodes on further tv sales potential, the ‘how-not-to’ home video market and Thomey action figures, Donovan and Niven agree ‘more is better.’ However, Niven adds, ‘the Europeans have much more flexible time schedules than we have.’

‘As to how it will affect it,’ concludes Donovan, ‘we’ll see.’ News of further episodes being ordered is hoped for early in the New Year.

cbc d’es not have a firm air date yet, but it will probably air in January.

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