Lord Have Mercy TV series in Canada

New sitcom “Lord Have Mercy!” to premiere during Black History Month.

VisionTV plans to launch the groundbreaking new multi-cultural situation comedy “Lord Have Mercy!” with a special television event during Black History Month in February.

The network will broadcast all 13 world premiere episodes of the series over three successive evenings, starting Feb. 11. The schedule runs as follows:

Tuesday, Feb. 11, 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET: Episodes 1-4
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 9 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET: Episodes 5-9
Thursday, Feb. 13, 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET: Episodes 10-13
The series is also slated to run in a regular weekly slot beginning in April.

Says Chris Johnson, VisionTV’s Senior Vice President, Programming: “Lord Have Mercy! is something very special, our network’s first original situation comedy and the first truly multi-cultural sitcom ever produced in Canada. So we wanted to do something unusual and exciting to turn the premiere into a major event. We believe running the entire series over three nights will help to build a loyal and passionate following for this landmark program.”

“Lord Have Mercy!” features up and coming Canadian actor Arnold Pinnock as Youth Pastor Dwight Gooding, an ambitious but socially inept young minister who plans to make big changes at Mt. Zion, a church in the heart of Toronto’s Caribbean community. But he must compete with the charismatic and easygoing Pastor Cuthbert Stevens (played by popular Trinidadian comic Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall) for the loyalty and attention of the eccentric church crew.

The gifted ensemble cast includes Leonie Forbes, one of Jamaica’s most respected actors, as Sister Hope McCauley, and Caribbean comic Rachel Price as Pastor Gooding’s wife Desiree. “Lord Have Mercy!” also boasts a number of outstanding Canadian talents, including hip-hop artist Shawn “Singlefoot” Singleton of Baby Blue Soundcrew, comedian Russell Peters, veteran character actors Gary Farmer and Louis Negin and rising star Debbie Young.

Inspired by such classic Britcoms as “Bless Me, Father” and “Desmond’s”, the series captures the humour and warmth of a community seldom seen on primetime Canadian television. The show is taped live before a studio audience in Toronto and features music by calypso star David Rudder.

“Lord Have Mercy!” was created by veteran filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, founder of the production company Leda Serene Films and writer/producer Vanz Chapman (Drop the Beat). Paul de Silva is VisionTV’s Executive in Charge of Production on the series, working with Alberta Nokes, the network’s Director of Independent Production.

Lord Have Mercy! – The Cast

Arnold Pinnock stars as the ambitious Youth Pastor Dwight Gooding. Born in England and raised in Canada, Pinnock began his career performing stand-up comedy in Toronto clubs and went on to join the much-admired Second City troupe. His screen credits included numerous feature films (Down to Earth, Exit Wounds), TV movies (Tru Confessions, Ruby’s Bucket of Blood) and television series (Witchblade, Doc).

Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall co-stars as the charismatic and easygoing Pastor Cuthbert Stevens. Hall is a comedian, historian, producer and singer/composer from Trinidad, where his gift for using humour to make serious statements has earned him a devoted following.

Rachel Price is Pastor Gooding’s wife Desiree. A native of Trinidad, Price has emerged as a rising star in the formerly all-male Caribbean comedy scene. Eloquent and energetic, she is a single mother known for her sharp, streetwise commentary on everyday affairs.

Leonie Forbes plays the upright Sister Hope McCauley, loyal assistant to Pastor Stevens. Forbes is Jamaica’s First Lady of Theatre and Film. Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, she has been performing for decades in England, Australia, Canada and the Caribbean. She has received numerous awards, including the Order of Distinction from the Jamaican government and the Institute of Jamaica Centenary Medal.

Shawn “Singlefoot” Singleton is Hope’s grandson Kent, a hip-hop producer with a shady past. Singleton, a Toronto MC, actor and writer/producer, is best known as a member of “urban music ambassadors” Baby Blue Soundcrew.

Debbie Young is Hope’s outspoken teenage granddaughter, Crystal. Born and Raised in Jamaica, Young studied English Literature at McGill University and Theatre at Concordia University. She is a dub poet whose fourth album and first book of poetry will be released in 2003.

Gary Farmer plays Hope’s would-be suitor, Marty C. Marten. Farmer is a veteran character actor with a long list of credits in film, TV, theatre and radio. He has also worked as a producer and director and has been active in the development of Aboriginal media in Canada. His feature film work includes roles in Adaptation, The Score, Smoke Signals and Dead Man.

Russell Peters plays Pastor Gooding’s best friend, aspiring comic Ryan Varma. An internationally renowned stand-up comedian, Peters is known for a unique brand of humour that draws on his Asian and Canadian roots. He has performed in the UK, Asia, South Africa and the Caribbean, as well as at comedy clubs across Canada. Peters has made numerous appearances on film and television, earning a Gemini Award for The Russell Peters Show, an hour-long special on The Comedy Network.

Louis Negin appears as Father White, a Catholic missionary priest with a fondness for Jamaican rum. Negin is a veteran Canadian stage actor and director, best known for his critically acclaimed performance as Truman Capote in the one-man show Tru. He has also made screen appearances in films such as 54 and Cowards Bend the Knee (by Winnipeg director Guy Maddin) and has contributed voice work for the animated series Mona the Vampire.

Lord Have Mercy! – The Creators

Frances-Anne Solomon (Director/Team Story Writer) grew up in Trinidad and studied Theatre and English Literature at the University of Toronto before moving to the UK. There, she spent 15 years working as a producer, director and writer in film, television and radio. As a producer and executive producer for BBC Television Films and Single Drama, she was responsible for several program strands showcasing low-budget productions, including Black Screen and Screen On The Tube. As a director, her credits include the award-winning feature film “Peggy Su!” and the documentary “I Is A Long Memoried Woman”. In 1999, Solomon returned to Toronto. She is the founder of Leda Serene Films, a production company known for putting people of colour both in front of and behind the camera.

Vanz Chapman (Team Story Writer/Co-Producer) grew up in Bermuda. He studied filmmaking at the London International Film School, and earned an MFA from Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he received the Paul Robeson Award for his short film In America. In 1997, Chapman was accepted as a writer-in-residence at the Canadian Film Centre and later went on to become story editor for the CBC TV series Drop the Beat. He has also completed a novel (The Afrotripper), contributes film and book reviews to Word magazine and has a number of film projects in development.

Visit the website: Lord of Mercy