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Just For Laughs confirms production slate for Summer 2015

From a media release:

If content is king, then comedy content is the king of kings. Just For Laughs, one of the largest purveyors of stand-up comedy content in the world, is delighted to share a glimpse of its lineup for 2015.

CW Network
The CW will broadcast an exclusive two-hour U.S. TV special, taped at this summer’s festival. The show will be hosted by Howie Mandel and feature top comedians and new stars, as well as behind-the-scenes exclusives. Just For Laughs will also produce an original online series for CW Seed, the CW’s digital studio, called The Elevator Talk Show with Pete Holmes. In addition, the CW will acquire over 20 hours of Just For Laughs catalogue from our stand-up library that will be available on CW Seed.

The Nasty Show, one of Just For Laughs’ summer franchise hits, is going to air on Showtime in the U.S. The show is set to air as a special hosted by Artie Lange with a lineup that includes Gilbert Gottfried and Jimmy Carr, amongst others. The Nasty Show will also air on Super Channel in Canada in 2016.

Bell Media
Just For Laughs All Access has been renewed for two more seasons on Canada’s The Comedy Network with thirteen one-hour [13 x 60] and twenty-six half-hour [26 x 30] episodes in both 2015 and 2016. The series will be filmed at Place des Arts and Club Soda this summer, and will feature hosts Trevor Noah, Neil Patrick Harris, Norm Macdonald, Ellie Kemper, TJ Miller, Chris D’Elia, amongst others. Viewers will be treated to extended, commercial-free versions of both the Ellie Kemper and Neil Patrick Harris Galas on The Movie Network this fall.

CBC has announced a slate of four new hour-long specials. Shows will be filmed this summer at Place des Arts, hosted by stars Wanda Sykes, Patrick Stewart, Jane Lynch and Alan Cumming.

Lone Eagle Entertainment & Just For Laughs
At this summer’s festival, Just For Laughs and Lone Eagle will be presenting a live version of their format for a new television series, The Wake, as part of Just For Laughs ComedyPro on Thursday, July 23 at 11:30 am. In The Wake, Gilbert Gottfried gets to attend his own funeral. A co-production between Lone Eagle Entertainment and Just For Laughs, The Wake is guaranteed to be the funniest funeral you will ever attend.

International Markets
Australia’s Network Ten will once again be filming at the Just For Laughs summer festival and airing a special hosted by Joel Creasey, which is dedicated to showcasing Australian talent alongside internationals. Network Ten will also be airing two hour-long specials featuring gala footage from year’s past, also hosted by Joel Creasey. In addition, Foxtel (The Comedy Channel) will air 10 half-hour long [10 x 30] specials, which will be filmed at the Sydney Opera House this October, as part of the Just For Laughs Sydney Festival. In collaboration with Comedy Central, Just For Laughs will produce an international-themed show, including two comics from South Africa, Conrad Koch and Jason Goliath; one comic from Spain, Alex O’Dogherty; and Italy’s, Francesco de Carlo. The popularity of stand-up comedy is growing internationally, and our Comedy Central partners recognize that bringing their comics to our prestigious festival promotes their local talent, while strengthening our brand in their territory. Additionally, Just For Laughs continues to licence stand-up to networks in Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Benelux, Hungary and other international markets.

Select TV productions, featuring the biggest international comedy stars from Just For Laughs, are now available to stream on Hulu and Hulu Plus in the U.S. (and for tech savvy viewers worldwide).

The Senate on the CBC

Cbc-logoYesterday the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications released its report on the CBC: Time for Change: The CBC/Radio-Canada in the Twenty-first Century. Despite its title, it seemed mired in the Nineteenth Century.

Well, maybe the mid-Twentieth.

The report described the current challenges that the CBC and all of Canadian broadcasting is facing with the advent of services like Netflix and YouTube but offered no suggestions for how the CBC could better embrace the digital age. There were some good suggestions on eliminating waste, reducing salaries and selling off real estate (which at times came very close to micromanaging) and a worthwhile discussion of governance which correctly objected to the CEO of the CBC reporting to the Prime Minister’s Office and not the Board (though it failed to point out that under the Conservative government the CBC’s Board has become a patronage appointment so does not have the expertise to oversee a broadcaster).

However, the core message was that the CBC should be broadcasting what the private broadcasters will not – Canadian historical dramas, nature documentaries, amateur sports such as university athletics, performing arts with an emphasis on symphonies, and Reach For The Top. Yes, it specifically suggested Reach For The Top, a show that the CBC broadcast from 1966 to 1989.  Old White Guy TV*.

Before you get up in arms, I love Canadian historical dramas and nature documentaries, but broadcasts of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Reach For The Top are not going to increase CBC’s market share nor will it engage younger, diverse, urban audiences. The CBC needs to be relevant to a wide range of Canadians.

There is no vision in this report. The Committee complained that the Broadcasting Act mandate for the CBC was too broad but its only recommendation for amendment was to include a specific reference to airing more historical drama and Canadian feature film.  It did not explain why only those two genres needed to be singled out. It complained that the Broadcasting Act did not contemplate the 21st Century and needed to be updated but gave no guidance on what revisions needed to be made. It complained that witnesses kept saying that the CBC was underfunded, demonstrated that in inflation-adjusted dollars government funding is at its lowest in the past 25 years, but then suggested that new funding models, including telethons and corporate sponsorship, should replace the shortfall.

Over the years there have been many studies of the CBC. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage conducted a study in 2008 on the CBC that contained a number of very good recommendations, including a memorandum of understanding between the government and the CBC that would set out specific goals and make sure that the CBC was sufficiently funded to meet those goals. The study also looked at digital media, diversity, Canadian programming, governance and accountability. The government declined to implement any of the recommendations.

Is the Senate report more in line with the Conservative government’s position on the CBC? Likely. Should we be worried? I don’t think so. For one thing, we do have an election this fall and nothing will be done before then or, if a minority government is elected, after then. As well, there is very little in this report that Conservative MPs have not said before (except maybe Reach For The Top, that’s new). For example, they have been advocating for a PBS-style funding model for years.  The reality is that many of these recommendations would not be popular with their constituents, who do not want to sit through a telethon to be able to watch Coronation Street.

Yes, it was a wasted opportunity but honestly do we need another study that the government will ignore? Or do we need political will and vision at both the government and the CBC to work together to provide Canadians with the public broadcaster that we need and deserve? Yeah, that.

*With apologies to Senator Betty Unger, the one woman on the Senate Committee.

Link: Comedy Network orders Beaverton pilot

From The Beaverton:

Comedy Network orders Beaverton pilot
Cameras started rolling on innovative Canadian independent production company, Pier 21 Films’, comedy pilot based on the popular website ‘The Beaverton’, for The Comedy Network after network executives came to the realization that they “know what’s good for them.”

The television adaptation, a satirical news broadcast of fabricated weekly events, embodies the website’s reputation for biting satire, caustic wit, and an irreverent disregard for both Canadian institutions and broadcast executives’ safety. Continue reading.


Link: Report on future of CBC a ‘lost opportunity’: Senator

From Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail:

Report on future of CBC a ‘lost opportunity’: Senator
A Canadian senator who serves on a parliamentary committee which just wrapped up a study of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is attacking his colleagues and the recommendations they made for the public broadcaster, saying their work was “a lost opportunity” whose mission was derailed by petty and sometimes partisan politics. Continue reading.

Link: NFL in Court to Stop U.S. Super Bowl Ads on Canadian TV

From Etan Vlessing of The Hollywood Reporter:

NFL in Court to Stop U.S. Super Bowl Ads on Canadian TV
The NFL has gone to court to stop Canada’s TV regulator from forcing the CTV network to air United States Super Bowl telecast commercials.

The league instead wants the CTV to continue maximizing Super Bowl ad revenue with homegrown ads to boost the value of the Canadian broadcast rights for the next time they come up for renewal. Continue reading.