In a joint production between the CBC, Pier 21 Films and Eagle Vision Inc., the life of Jack Layton is coming to the small screen. Titled "Smilin’ Jack: The Jack Layton Story" it chronicles the 2011 federal election campaign.
The made-for-television movie started shooting Sunday in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canadian television actor Rick Roberts will star as the former New Democratic Party leader and Sook-Yin Lee will star as Layton’s wife, NDP MP Olivia Chow.
With a script written by Andrew Wreggitt and directed by Jeff Woolnough, the movie focuses on the 2011 federal election campaign that saw the NDP make significant strides across the country and become the Official Opposition. The major support was known as the Orange Crush. It also looks at the relationship between Layton and Chow during their years in municipal and federal politics.
“It’s been a pleasure looking into the life of such a multi-faceted man. I’ve had to learn to speak Cantonese and French, and play the guitar. Jack Layton was an incredible athlete, and I like to lie on the couch – so this in itself has been challenging,” stated Roberts in a press release. “The most intriguing part has been trying to embody his passion for life, his generosity, and his resolve to follow his vision in spite of overwhelming odds.”
The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that the production team is looking for extras. The scene will begin filming Tuesday and depict Election Night where Layton addressed his excited supporters in Toronto. It is scheduled to shoot at the Centennial Concert Hall.
According to Sun News Network, there are many questions as to who is paying for this film; is it privately funded or are the taxpayers footing the bill?
Layton passed away on Aug. 22, 2011 at the age of 61 from cancer. A tremendous amount of support was shown throughout the country from citizens and public and private officials. Digital Journal reported in May that the City of Toronto will rename its Toronto Island Ferry Terminal to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal.
An anniversary memorial will be held at city hall in Toronto on Aug. 22 at 6 p.m., which is being held by the entire Layton family.