Production begins today on Bell Media’s new original drama Highland Gardens

It’s one of the great migratory phenomena. Hordes of aspiring performers from Canada and around the world descend upon Hollywood with one single dream: to make it big.

But for every success story, there are thousands of others who struggle to keep their dreams afloat. Bell Media announced today that production has begun on the new original drama HIGHLAND GARDENS (working title).

Produced by Emmy®-nominated Epitome Pictures and executive produced, written, and directed by Martin Gero (HBO’s BORED TO DEATH, Young People F*cking), the one-hour, six-part scripted series begins shooting in Toronto today before continuing in Hollywood this Fall.

Set in and around an apartment-style hotel that draws aspiring performers from Canada, the U.S. and all over the world, HIGHLAND GARDENS is a no-holds-barred, character-driven relationship drama that follows the exploits of six young hopefuls in search of celluloid and stardom in Hollywood.

Full of heart-rending moments, salacious temptations and hilarious escapades, HIGHLAND GARDEN’s coming-of-age dwellers grapple with life’s defining moments as they deal with the unreality of the show-biz industry.

Whether they stay a week, a month, or 40 years, the denizens of HIGHLAND GARDENS provide something to each other that’s in short supply elsewhere in Hollywood: support. The ensemble drama stars:

Joe Dinicol (MURDOCH MYSTERIES, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) as “nice-guy” Nick, a struggling stand-up comedian from Edmonton who is always the best friend and never the boyfriend;

Andra Fuller (THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER, ENTOURAGE) as Kaldrick, the extremely successful Hip-Hop artist hailing from the streets of Oakland, California;

Jonathan Patrick Moore (NEIGHBOURS, ALL SAINTS) as Connor, a break-out Australian with drop-dead good looks and a dark past;

Chelan Simmons (SMALLVILLE, SUPERNATURAL, KYLE XY) as Alicia, a sensitive, aspiring dancer from Regina who will do whatever it takes to make ends meet;

Jewel Staite (FLASH FORWARD, STARGATE ATLANTIS) as the street-smart Haligonian Raquel, who’s frightened of becoming yesterday’s news;  

Cassie Steele (DEGRASSI, RELIC HUNTER) as Abby, the naïve Toronto actor who is ready to fight to get to the top;

and Benjamin Charles Watson (TODD AND THE BOOK OF PURE EVIL, THE LISTENER) as Tariq, the confident and talented African-Canadian hip-hop artist with a secret on the down low.

“It’s so exciting to be starting production on a brand new series with our friends at Bell Media,” said Executive Producer and CEO of Epitome Pictures Inc., Linda Schuyler. “I’ve always enjoyed telling stories about the adolescent experience. Now, I am looking forward to exploring a more adult point of view.”

“After an exhaustive six-month, three-country search with thousands of auditions, I’m very proud of the ensemble cast we’ve put together,” said Executive Producer and show-runner Martin Gero. “I feel incredibly lucky that Bell Media has given us an opportunity to make a character-based series and we hope to shed some light on a side of the entertainment industry that is rarely seen.”

“Bell Media is thrilled to partner with Epitome Pictures once again on another exciting series,” said Corrie Coe, Senior Vice-President, Independent Production, Bell Media. “HIGHLAND GARDENS has strong characters and storylines that will allow audiences to follow the hopes and dreams of young Canadians trying to make it big in L.A.”

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