Amazon is set to revive The Kids in the Hall – and Toronto Film School’s Andrew Barnsley is head-crushingly excited to be a part of the Canadian cult classic’s comeback on the American streaming giant.
“I was a huge fan of Kids in the Hall growing up, so I’ve kind of been pinching myself thinking, ‘Is this actually happening?’” Barnsley said of the popular sketch series’ upcoming, eight-episode reunion on Prime Video, which he and his company, Project 10 Productions, are slated to produce.
The Kids in the Hall’s return will reunite all five original members of its namesake sketch troupe – Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson. The comedy quintet first formed in 1984 here in Toronto, where they often performed on the Rivoli stage, before rising to nation-wide prominence during their eponymous show’s five-season run on the CBC from 1989 to 1995.
The Amazon revival of the show will mark the cast’s first full series reunion since 2010, when the eight-part mini-series, Death Comes to Town, aired on the CBC. Before that, the Canadian comedy quintet also appeared together in the 1996 feature film, Brain Candy.
For the Emmy-nominated Barnsley – who serves as TFS’s Executive Producer in Residence – teaming up with Amazon to bring The Kids in the Hall back to the small screen is especially exciting, because it marks what may well mark the beginning of a whole new investment stream into Canadian content.
“It’s going to be Amazon’s flagship Canadian show as they move to expand globally…and I think people are going to be really excited about it,” he said, noting that Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video has also signed on as the studio behind the project.
“This feels like the first time a major, international streamer has invested in Canadian creative and not just Canadian below the line,” Barnsley added, explaining that the influx of investment for American productions shooting locally has far outweighed support for homegrown projects written, produced, acted and directed by Canadians.
“With Kids in the Hall, it feels like Amazon is really investing in Canadian creative – and that hasn’t really been the case before, so it’s wonderful news.”
That sentiment was echoed by James Farrell, Vice President of International Originals for Amazon Studios:
“We’ve been investing in Canada for several years and are excited to add to that momentum by making The Kids in the Hall the first Canadian Amazon Original series,” Farrell said in a statement announcing the reboot on March 5.
“The Kids in the Hall is an iconic show with a deep-rooted fan base. Several of our global hits, including The Boys, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and The Expanse have been filmed in Canada and we are looking forward to continuing our work with talented producers and crew teams across the country to bring this series to our Prime members around the world.”
As for Barnsley’s involvement in The Kids in the Hall reboot, he said it all began late last year with an out-of-the-blue phone call from his old friend and former colleague Dave Foley, with whom he’d previously worked in his role as the executive producer of the Canadian Screen Award-nominated comedy series, Spun Out.
“We’d even done a little Kids in the Hall reunion episode during the first season of Spun Out (in 2014), so when he called me up and asked if I was interested in working together on this, and I said ‘Of course! Yes! Anything you want!” laughed Barnsley.
“That call was in December, so it’s all been moving very quickly from there.”
Now in the process of being written, Barnsley said The Kids in the Hall revival is tentatively scheduled to begin production here in Toronto this coming summer.
“I know I was in high school at the time (the original series aired), and it was a show that really spoke to me,” Barnsley said of the show, whose stand-out cast of kooky characters included the likes of Chicken Lady, Cabbage Head, and Buddy Cole, among many others.
“I really think there’s an opportunity with this (revival) for the next generation to rediscover these voices. And I think it’ll also create some interesting demand for the old episodes, as well.”
All five seasons of the original Kids in the Hall series are currently available to stream on CBC Gem.