Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

Bryan Baeumler (and family) heads to the sticks in new reno series

The No. 1 no-no when it comes to renovating a house is living in it when such a tumultuous event is taking place. And yet that’s exactly what Bryan Baeumler and his family did when they decided to move their lives from busy Oakville, Ont., to the Niagara Escarpment, an event documented in House of Bryan: In the Sticks, debuting Sunday on HGTV.

“Looking back through this journey, moving my family out to barely a farm to what it is now blows the first two House of Bryan series out of the water,” he says from a sunny clime where he’s on vacation with his wife (and TV show co-star) Sarah. “It was just such an adventure and so much fun. The chaos that ensued with having four kids … there is a lot of stuff that goes on in this show. It’s unbelievable.”

The family really had no plans to move from Oakville, where they constructed the “forever home” documented in Season 1. But  the allure of living away from the trappings of the city was just too great for Baeumler and Sarah, who purchased a large property set back from a country road and got to work. The original home, an A-frame with a soaring ceiling in the main room, would largely stay intact save for some extensive updating. A large extension built onto the original would more than double the home’s size while providing the rustic environment on 16 acres that Baeumler experienced as a kid.

Unfortunately, they had to sell their home in Oakville so that they had the funds to start work on the new, meaning moving their belongings–and themselves–up to the new place. Drama, tears, setbacks, triumph and happiness was captured for posterity with In the Sticks. Bowing on Sunday with two back-to-back episodes, viewers will see everything that occurred during the process, with no filter keeping out the bad times from the good. Baeumler and Sarah wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is the way we live our lives,” he explains. “Sarah and I look at something and say, ‘What if we get hit by a bus tomorrow?’ and we go out and do it. Life is all about an adventure and I think too many people live by the rule book and live conservatively. We say, ‘Screw it! Get it done.'”

That’s not to say the Baeumler’s adjusted to life in the country immediately. Things they hadn’t considered when buying the property was switching over to a septic system for waste and a gas tank for fuel. They also quickly learned that a quick two-minute run for some milk in the city wasn’t the same in the country. The most important things ceased to be what was in the fridge and more about spending time together.

“What it’s changed is that we spend that extra five or 10 minutes with the kids,” he says. “It has changed our family dynamic way, way for the better. It’s been great.”

House of Bryan: In the Sticks debuts Sunday with two back-to-back episodes at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.

Preview: Polar Sea a stunning sail through the Northwest Passage

I’ve always been fascinated with the search for the Northwest Passage. From Shackleton to Franklin, to those who didn’t make the history books, I’ve read countless depictions of the unforgiving terrain and weather. So I was thrilled–and had high expectations–when screeners for The Polar Sea came across my desk.

Those expectations were filled. This gorgeous, 10-part peek at human, animal and plant life in the north–as well as access to traveling the Northwest Passage–is incredible. Narrated by Gordon Pinsent and airing from Dec. 1 to 12 on TVO, The Polar Sea kicks off by explaining that global warming has advanced to the point the  ever-elusive Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic is now open to traffic both tourist and business. Viewers are first introduced to Richard Tegnér, a Swedish architect and father of two who sets sail in a 9.5-metre sailboat named DAX together with his friends Martin Sigge and Bengt Norvik. Full of excitement, the trio make good time in their first part of their journey to Greenland before technical difficulties cause some delays. Richard marvels not only at how those early English expeditions stocked their war ships to the brim with three years worth of supplies while his trio did one traverse in just four days but at how those teams dealt with close quarters between over 100 men.

The journey Richard and his friends make are juxtaposed between two other ships attempting the same journey–a catamaran filled with a family and a high-end cruise ship packed with wealthy tourists. Some of the best footage in The Polar Sea is the jumping back and forth among the three boats illustrating the challenges faced by all on board them.

The Polar Sea isn’t just a triptych, however. Whole chunks of chapters are devoted to the scientists, biologists, geologists and researchers from around the world who are conducting studies across the Northwest Passage and Arctic, measuring the effects of climate change on glaciers, water levels and land. Dr. Shfaqat Abbas Khan, senior researcher at the National Space Institute in Denmark, for instance, illustrates how Greenland’s melting glaciers are actually causing the whole of the country to grow in height because the weight of the ice is no longer compacting the land. Yes, you read that right. The Polar Sea is packed with “holy crap” information segments–not to mention gripping views of glaciers–that are worth tuning in for.

TVO’s plan of getting the show out to as many viewers as possible isn’t confined to Ontario. The whole series is available on the network’s website on Monday while an accompanying website offers a stunning 360-degree view of the Arctic through the eyes of the Inuit and an online magazine is full of journal entries from those featured in the broadcast.

The Polar Sea debuts Monday at 9 p.m. on TVO and is available to the rest of Canada via the network’s website.

Food Network dishes up Season 2 of Chopped Canada


From a media release:

The mystery baskets are restocked, the knives are sharpened and the chopping block is ready for the savoury second season premiere of Chopped Canada on January 10 at 9pm ET/PT. After a record-breaking series premiere with the highest audience in the network’s history*, season two returns to Food Network Canada with 13 mouth-watering episodes. Culinary experts Eden Grinshpan (Eden Eats), Toronto’s Massimo Capra (Restaurant Takeover) and Montreal’s Antonio Park (PARK Restaurant) join the rotating panel of all-star judges. Celebrity chefs Susur Lee, Lynn Crawford, Michael Smith, Roger Mooking, John Higgins and Anne Yarymowich return to the judging panel while Dean McDermott reprises his role as host.

Chopped Canada’s sophomore season features a hearty new batch of Canadian competitors representing British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. The competitors have to be quick on their feet – and even quicker with their hands – if they want to plate a dish using the mystery ingredients to impress the all-star judging panel. Each episode begins with four ambitious chefs. Course-by-course, one competitor is chopped from the competition until only one remains and walks away with $10,000 and the title of Chopped Canada champion. For a full list of chefs competing in the first 13 episodes, including biographical information, please visit choppedcanada.ca. The second half of the season returns in fall 2015 with more of Canada’s culinary talent taking on the Chopped Canada kitchen.

New this season are special themed episodes peppered throughout the schedule, including the viewers’ choice episode airing February 7 at 9 pm ET/PT. Fans were invited to weigh in with their ideas through the Chopped Canada Twitter and Facebook pages. Viewers showed no mercy suggesting ingredient combinations that are more difficult than ever. From the Canadian staple ketchup chips to the outright daring prairie oysters, the four competing chefs will have to be on their A-game to survive.

The Motherload premieres January 9 on Doc Zone

From a media release:

THE MOTHERLOAD: A documentary by Cornelia Principe Executive Produced by Bob Culbert

  • World Broadcast Premiere on CBC Television’s Doc Zone Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. (9:30 NT)

Border City Pictures is pleased to announce the world broadcast premiere of their new documentary, THE MOTHERLOAD on CBC-TV’s Doc Zone on Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 9:00p.m. (9:30 NT).

“I made this documentary, in part, because it was only when I had a child 5 years ago did I realize that things were not the same for men and women. And it was – strangely – shocking to me. “– Cornelia Principe, Director/Producer

Why would a recent article in The Atlantic called “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” create such an international sensation? Why does the announcement of a new CEO of a Fortune 500 company make headlines because she is also pregnant? Why does a billionaire Facebook boss feel compelled to break her silence and speak out about the lack of women at the top? Why all the fuss?

Perhaps it’s because it was all supposed to have changed by now. Dads were supposed to carry more of the load. Motherhood was not supposed to become so idealized. Employers were supposed to be more flexible. Women were supposed to climb higher up the ladder, but feel less guilty. Society was supposed to live up to the promises our mothers made. From single moms to CEOs – a generation of burnt-out, disillusioned moms are waking up and smelling the coffee. Forget having it all – today’s working moms are doing it all. Call it “The Motherload”.

“If you ratchet up the standards at work, and you ratchet up the standards of motherhood, you’re gonna get to be overwhelmed,” notes Joan C. Williams, Law Professor and advocate for better workplace practices for both women and men.

THE MOTHERLOAD takes an in-depth and new look at the subject of working mothers – the current issues, challenges and triumphs that come from trying or having to do it all. And compares Canadian women’s lives to their even more troubled American counterparts – where women are struggling with work-life balance and paying a heavy price with their health.

And it doesn’t stop with women, as now men are starting to feel the weight of “The Motherload”. As writer and Washington Post reporter, Brigid Schulte says “this is not just a mommy issue. This is a human rights issue.” When we meet Brigid, she is working on a book called “Overwhelmed” about her struggles to maintain a demanding career and be an attentive mother of two.

As a key foreign policy advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter appears to have it all. Some would say a dream job, a real position of power. But when time comes to sign up for another two years, Anne-Marie, a mother of two, surprises her boss and herself- she quits. “You cannot tell Egypt to hold the revolution because your policy planner has to go home for the weekend”. She returns home to her family and her job as a University Professor and writes “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” for The Atlantic Magazine. The article becomes an international sensation, sparking debate, discussion and a whole lot of controversy.

Sheryl Sandberg is the billionaire COO of Facebook, but she is also a mom – one who was afraid to admit that when she leaves work at 5:30 pm, it’s to have dinner with her kids. Her best-selling book “Lean In” is, she hopes, a call to arms for women to not give up on their ambition. ”The revolution has stalled” states Sandberg and that “It’s important we acknowledge this stagnation for women.”

In the documentary THE MOTHERLOAD, we profile several working mothers struggling to just keep working – much less advance in their careers. Emilie, a prosecutor for the federal government and mother of three, who has just returned to work after her third and final maternity leave (Emilie also happens to be the daughter of former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour), Kimeiko, also a mother of three, on a year leave from her job as a college professor, and Helen, a divorced mother of two, who chose to be let go of her position as a plant manager instead of continue to strain under the high expectations at work while trying to care for her kids. We also meet the ultimate in doing it all mothers — divorced, single mom Cathy is on her own – she works two jobs when we first meet her while also caring for her two young sons.

As a producer for over 15 years, award-winning producer (The World Before Her), Cornelia Principe directed, produced and wrote THE MOTHERLOAD. She had produced the feature documentary, The World Before Her (produced/directed by Nisha Pahuja and producer Ed Barreveld) which won the Best Documentary Feature Award (Tribeca Film Festival, New York City, 2012) and Best Canadian Feature Award (Toronto’s Hot Docs International Film Festival, 2012).

THE MOTHERLOAD Executive Producer Bob Culbert has more than 40 years of experience in broadcast journalism, independent production and consulting. From 2000 to 2009, he was Vice President of Documentaries for the Canadian Television Network, (CTV). From 1994 to 1999 he was Executive Director of News and Current Affairs at CBC responsible for all news and current affairs programming at both the network and regional levels. He was also responsible for Newsworld, CBC’s 24-hour news channel and was the recipient of the Academy Achievement Award at the 2006 Gemini Awards.

Award-winning director Matt Gallagher is the Director of Photography on THE MOTHERLOAD, and has more than 17 years experience in documentary production.

THE MOTHERLOAD is produced and directed by Cornelia Principe and her company Border City Pictures and Executive Produced by Bob Culbert. It is produced in association with the CBC, with assistance from the Canada Media Fund, and the Shaw Media-Hot Docs Completion Fund, and the Support of Rogers Telefund.

Doc Zone airs Slaves to Habit on January 2

From a media release:

SLAVES TO HABIT: New documentary examines our battle with bad habits and the secrets to conquering them

  • Premieres THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 2014 – 9:00 P.M. (9:30 P.M. NT) on CBC TV’s Doc Zone

Happy New Year! With the start of every new calendar year comes a fleet of well intentioned New Year’s resolutions – among them, losing weight, quitting smoking, getting more exercise.

On THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. (9:30 p.m. NT) CBC-TV’s Doc Zone premieres SLAVES TO HABIT, a new documentary that takes an in-depth look at bad habits, the behavior that surrounds them, and the startling new science on the interaction between brain chemistry, habit and self-control.

Just about everything we need to know about resisting temptation can be found in ‘The Marshmallow Test’, a famous experiment conducted by Walter Mischel, at Stanford University in the 1960s. In The Marshmallow Test, a researcher places a marshmallow in front of a pre-schooler and tells them that if they can wait about 15 minutes before eating it, they will get a second marshmallow. Over the course of the 15 minutes, we watch each child desperately try to resist the impulse to eat the marshmallow. The hilarious and fascinating results demonstrate the power of habit and willpower – who has it and who doesn’t.

SLAVES TO HABIT features some of the world’s foremost authorities on how our habits affect or control our lives including Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Reporter Charles Duhigg, author of ‘The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business’. Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific
discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Along the way we learn why some people struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight According to Duhigg, a habit consists of three parts: “There’s a cue, which is like a trigger for an automatic
behaviour to start, and then a routine which is the behaviour itself, and then finally a reward. Most people focus on the behaviour and the routine – but it’s the cue and the reward that shapes how the habit functions.”

SLAVES TO HABIT follows three individuals over a 6-week period as they struggle to break their bad habits – smoking, overeating and compulsive shopping. In the end, we understand that habits aren’t destiny and that by harnessing the new science on habit, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our

SLAVES TO HABIT is written, directed and produced by the award-winning veteran filmmaker Andy Blicq (Faking the Grade, Conspiracy Rising, Information Overload, The Truth About Shoplifting, The Truth About Liars).