'Less Than Kind' Has Been More Than Kind

Published: June 2nd 2010
in Culture » Television

"Less Than Kind" cast
Pic: Breakthrough New Media
Marvin Kaye
Pic: Photo courtesy of Oldfield Management

Less Than Kind has been more than kind to its creator, co-writer and executive producer, Marvin Kaye.


When Kaye wrote his one-act play in 1995 as part of a festival for Vancouver-based Studio 58, he had no idea it would eventually evolve into a hit national TV series.


More than a decade after writing the play, the actor-turned-writer pitched the show to CHUM along with his writing partner, Chris Sheasgreen. The pitch was part of their course load at the National Screen Institute and the two writers were ecstatic to find out CHUM was interested in the show.


“This was the first show that me and my partner Chris ever pitched and it went,” shares Kaye. “It attracted Mark McKinney and Maury Chaykin, and a calibre of talent that we never imagined circled around the project because they saw something in it. And as a result, we’ve been given so much freedom. More so than most writers I know that are way more seasoned than I am.”


Less Than Kind tells the story of a quirky Jewish family living in Winnipeg. The show stars Jesse Camacho as Sheldon Blecher and follows the teen as he grows up in a loving but dysfunctional family. It features veteran actor Maury Chaykin as his father, Sam. The show aired in 2008 on Citytv and moved to HBO Canada for season two, which wrapped up a few weeks ago.


“With HBO, the great thing is we don’t have to deal with any sort of content restrictions and we don’t have to deal with commercials or time-length restrictions…We basically don’t have to censor ourselves at all so it’s an amazing creative opportunity,” says Kaye.


When the show isn’t in production, the Winnipeg-based writer is constantly thinking of ways to develop the plot and the characters. “These characters mean a lot to every one of us and we try to give them the respect that they deserve,” he says.


The characters in Less Than Kind have a special meaning for Kaye as many of them are based on his family and friends – most of whom love the show.


“They haven’t sued me so far,” he jokes. “They’re all flattered, although my sisters are angry that there are no sisters in the show. But we could only afford so many characters.”


Kaye says the third season will continue to showcase the Blechers – warts and all. Only this time, things are about to get dark. “There’s a dark streak that runs through the show and we’re going to be playing with that and how Sheldon grows up and deals with his mistakes,” Kaye reveals. “Sheldon has screwed up his relationship with his girl so he’s a bit flustered and Sam, the father, is sick and getting sicker. The mother has to take over and the characters just keep going on their crazy adventures.”


Kaye is busy developing the third season of the Gemini-winning series, which will air on HBO Canada. He’s also written for a new CBC series called Insecurity that will premiere in the fall. “That job wouldn’t have happened without Less Than Kind,” he says. “It’s opened a lot of doors”.


Related articles: (Less Than Kind, HBO Canada, Winnipeg, Marvin Kaye)
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