Friday, 22 February 2019

STAY WITH US: Ellis International puts a comedic spin on hotel hospitality with Bigger Boss?

BE OUR GUEST: The show's five co-stars on the promotional poster

IT’s a balmy Tuesday night in New Kingston, and the excitement inside this attractive little room at the Spanish Court Hotel’s Worthington enclave is palpable. Media peers and a selection of entertainment industry personnel are here for the launch of “Jamaica’s first international sitcom,” Bigger Boss?, the newest television vehicle from Ellis International, who gave us 10 seasons of The Ity & Fancy Cat Show before bringing the curtains down in 2018.

For the entertainment company, Bigger Boss? represents an ambitious step towards bringing unprecedented and revolutionary products to Jamaican television audiences. “We’re hoping to introduce the kind of products that will have an impact beyond Jamaica. We want people to be watching within the Diaspora and further overseas. That is our aim going forward,” explains a dapperly attired Owen ‘Blakka Ellis, Director of Ellis International and one of the scriptwriters behind Bigger Boss? “This show, in particular, is vibrant sketch comedy that we hope will get syndicated.”

Fans of The Ity & Fancy Cat Show are essentially being treated to another laugh riot. In the tradition of Smile Orange, Bigger Boss? Takes viewers inside the operations of a local tourist-friendly hotel (Suite Jamaica) and ratchets up the comedy by zooming in on the antics of its colourful staff, led by Ian ‘Ity’ Ellis (manager Mr. Brown), Camille Davis (resident hot girl/ concierge Tandi) and Alton ‘Fancy Cat’ Hardware as Woodstock, who “gets a work” as the new odd-jobs handyman. 

Zosia McGregor and Rushane Campbell round out the cast as front-desk staffers welcoming and registering guests. Expect cameo appearances by Alaine, Noelle Kerr, Christopher Martin and Leonie Forbes, among others.

Ity Ellis, who doubles as executive producer, says the idea was born in 2016, as he reflected on the many kinds of conflicts managers and their staff encounter in the workplace. It’s something he wanted to explore, and after spending much of 2017 wooing sponsors, he got yeses from Jamaica National and KFC.

“We knew it was going to be something special, creative and humorous, that people here and overseas can look forward to,” says KFC brand manager, Andrei Roper, a super fan of The Ity & Fancy Cat Show. “The brand of comedy that you have brought us was in a class by itself. It was sad to see The Ity & Fancy Cat Show go after 10 years, but we knew something better would replace it. What you guys bring to the landscape makes us happy to be on board [with Bigger Boss?] and we’re looking forward to a spectacular season one.” 

Jamaica National’s Dana Morris-Dixon lauded Ellis International for “the creative energy” they bring to the entertainment melting pot and for encouraging Jamaicans to “think big” and “think bold.” 

According to Fancy Cat, Jamaicans will enjoy Bigger Boss? much more than The Ity & Fancy Cat Show, and Camille Davis agrees. “It’s going to be like something never experienced before,” she says. “It’s comedy, but it will open people’s eyes and give a fresh perspective of who we are as Jamaicans.” 

>> Season One of Bigger Boss? brings 10 episodes to TV-J, starting Sunday, Feb. 17.

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