SPOILER ALERT! This story reveals plot point from the March 26 series premiere of Ride on Hallmark.
It takes place on a bucolic but cash-strapped ranch that’s operated by a widowed parent who loses a beloved family member in the premiere episode — all while everyone looks straight-up sexy in their Wranglers and cowboy boots.
But that’s where the similarities to Yellowstone end for Hallmark’s Ride, insists Sherri Cooper-Landsman (Brothers and Sisters, Everwood), who showruns the new drama about a rodeo dynasty with Rebecca Boss and Chris Masi (Our Kind of People).
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“For me, it was just this beautiful ranch setting with a family going through stuff that a family goes through,” Cooper-Landsman tells Deadline of Ride. “And to be honest, I hadn’t even watched Yellowstone, so I did not even think about that. It just was this beautiful setting and a worlds that Becky [Rebecca] really knew so well.”
Ride, which is co-produced by Endeavor-backed Blink49 Studios and Seven24 Films, in partnership with Bell Media for CTV Drama Channel in Canada, stars Nancy Travis as matriarch Isabel Murray and Beau Mirchoff (Good Trouble), Jake Foy (Designated Survivor) and Marcus Rosner (Arrow) as her sons Cash, Tuff and Austin. Tiera Skovbye plays Austin’s wife, Missy.
Here, Cooper-Landsman breaks down the premiere episode and what fans can expect from the series that’s shot entirely in Calgary, Alberta.
DEADLINE You were brought in after the show was pitched. Is that right?
SHERRI COOPER-LANDSMAN I was brought aboard in March of last year. Chris had written the pilot. It’s Chris and Becky’s world. They brought me on just before we started the mini-room, so when I came on, we had a pilot script and did the casting and everything together.
DEADLINE Oh, you said the dreaded phrase, the mini-room.
COOPER-LANDSMAN It was the most delightful mini room, though! There was maybe like six of us on Zoom. We were assembled because we hadn’t gotten the green light yet. A lot of times, that’s what they do. Once we had the pickup, we were all excited to keep going.
DEADLINE The comparisons to Yellowstone are inevitable. Did you have any worries about that in the beginning?
COOPER-LANDSMAN Not at all. Honestly, I never even thought about it. All I knew when I read it was that I could be a good contributor because this was just a great family. That’s my sweet spot. For me, it was just this beautiful ranch setting and this family going through the stuff that family goes through. And to be honest, I hadn’t even watched Yellowstone, so I did not even think about that. It just was this beautiful setting and a world that Becky really knew so well.
DEADLINE But…you killed off a son in the premiere. That happened in the Yellowstone pilot.
COOPER-LANDSMAN I hate to say this but…I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and usually somebody dies in a teaser. [Laughs]. The credit goes to Becky and Chris and the cast. It was our own thing. We weren’t thinking about other shows and having to avoid comparisons.
DEADLINE Did you have to go to school on the whole rodeo world?
COOPER-LANDSMAN A little bit. But at the end of the day, what I really needed to learn is how a ranch works, not how rodeo works. Just like, what are the concerns when a family is ranching or farming? What are the pressures and the stresses? I went to school on that.
DEADLINE I was actually pleased to see that everyone was wearing helmets while riding those bucking bulls.
COOPER-LANDSMAN Yes, they do. It’s like skiing today. Everyone skis with a helmet and everyone in a rodeo wears helmets. It was all shot at the Calgary Stampede. It’s where they host rodeos and other events. We found a beautiful family ranch to shoot at [for the Murray family scenes].
DEADLINE Did you wonder if you would have to alter the way you tell stories because you were doing it for the family-friendly Hallmark?
COOPER-LANDSMAN No. What was so great in our conversations with Hallmark from the very beginning is that they just wanted to tell this family drama. There’s nothing we didn’t touch, I believe. It was kind of a joy because we felt like the characters got to lead the stories for us. Nancy brought so much gravitas to it. It’s like, ‘oh my God, we found our Isabel.’ It reminded me of Sally Field, [who played the matriarch on] Brothers and Sisters. Isabel is the spine of the family.
DEADLINE In the premiere, family friend Valeria [Sara Garcia] is told something by Austin before tragedy strikes. Are you going to hold onto that secret for a while?
COOPER-LANDSMAN It’s one of our season-long mysteries. It takes a while to get to the real answer. The answer is surprising and feels really satisfying. We will also get into Valeria’s backstory. She has been around for years and you will see the friendship between her and Missy. They have a history.
DEADLINE It seems like there are no black sheeps in the family. Or are there?
COOPER-LANDSMAN Cash is sort of the prodigal son who comes back. They say it in the open, that every time we talk about Cash, he’s doing something you shouldn’t be doing. That’s our hope, that Cash is kind of the black sheep who is coming back and trying to make good. We’ll figure out why and what his skeletons are.
DEADLINE Is Isabel going to be okay with the idea of Cash’s affections for Missy?
COOPER-LANDSMAN It feels like great story, like a juicy complication. It’s so complicated because Missy was married to her other son who’s no longer there. So it’s great family drama fodder. The chemistry between Beau and Tiera is just magical. I was lucky to be a part of when we first saw them together.
DEADLINE Tiera’s wardrobe is pretty cute too, as is Nancy’s.
COOPER-LANDSMAN I feel like we’re gonna bring Western chic back.
DEADLINE I’d be derelict if I didn’t ask about the origin of the names Tuff and Cash.
COOPER-LANDSMAN What’s so great is that Tuff tries to be tough and he feels like his role in this family is to be the bull fighter, but not just in the ring. I think it’s a perfect name for him. Becky and Chris named all these characters before I came on board and anytime we had a name question, we’d always go to them. She was a superpower with names.
DEADLINE And Tuff is gay.
COOPER-LANDSMAN Yes. He’s totally open about his sexuality. He has a complicated role in the family. It’s just one aspect of him.
DEADLINE How many episodes are in the first season and are you done?
COOPER-LANDSMAN There are 10. Yes, I’m done. I had set up some development stuff beforehand. I knew an executive at Blink who brought me on because I had done family drama, but I could only commit to the first season. Actually, it was only going to be for the mini room but I just fell in love with the cast and the writers and the whole show. So I ended up staying on the full season. I’m excited to watch it go on. It’s Becky and Chris’ world and these actors are amazing. They all know what the show is now.
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