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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Montreal’s Pixcom options Morgue: A Life In Death for true crime series

From a media release:

Pixcom Productions is announcing an exclusive agreement with Dr. Vincent Di Maio and co-author Ron Franscell, which includes an option on their recent book Morgue: A Life In Death. Both the book and the series mine Dr. Di Maio’s prolific career in forensic pathology for the most amazing mysteries he helped solve. From Trayvon Martin to Lee Harvey Oswald, Phil Spector, and the West Memphis Three, the series will showcase Di Maio’s pivotal insights into the real world of autopsies, exhumations and courtroom testimony. Every episode will explore one gripping case from his unique perspective, highlighting the incredible science and scalpel-sharp logic behind each solve.

Dr. Di Maio is internationally renowned in the field of forensic pathology. He wrote the foremost textbook on gunshot wounds, has performed more than 9,000 autopsies and investigated over 25,000 deaths. Ron Franscell is a bestselling crime author whose work has appeared in the Washington PostChicago Sun-TimesSan Francisco ChronicleDenver Post, among others.

Morgue joins other titles in Pixcom’s true crime slate, including an active cold-case investigation series currently in production with Investigation Discovery and 13 seasons of The Killer Next Door produced for Bell Media.

Pixcom is bringing Morgue: A Life in Death to Realscreen West this coming June.


Preview: Gusto’s Dog Tales Rescue is a show that will touch your heart

Being a dog lover all my life, I was very excited to watch the new TV show from Gusto called Dog Tales Rescue. Though my dog is not a rescue puppy, when I was little I always wanted to adopt one. Even if it is hard to accept that you can’t save every animal, you still can try. And that’s what Dog Tales Rescue is about: love, care and respect for our little friends.

Dog Tales Rescue—debuting Thursday, May 31, at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT—is a touching and heartwarming docu-series that follows the lives of rescue animals from Canada’s creatures to internationally unique animals. Danielle Eden-Scheinberg and Rob Scheinberg run their Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary out of King City, Ont. supported by a team of more than 50 helpful staff. Their main goal is to make animals feel loved, and of course provide them with all necessary medical and training care.

The first episode introduces viewers to Danielle and Rob, who treat their animals like their own kids. Danielle gets a call that a lot of chihuahuas are arriving at the sanctuary. The happiness on her face and the staff’s faces says it all; these people care so much and they are going to do everything to find these dogs new and safe homes.

Dog Tales Rescue is not only a dog rescue sanctuary but one for horses as well. Ilana is a head horse handler and, in addition to saving the horses are from slaughter, is the one who helps them to reconnect with nature. The new horse they receive in Episode 1 is very frightened because of all of the other horses in the sanctuary. Eventually, she gets along with them very well.

Each episode of Dog Tales Rescue is an emotional one. You could cry from sadness or happiness. Looking to adopt a dog or sponsor a horse? Head to Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary’s website for details.

Dog Tales Rescue airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m PT on Gusto.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Serious business on MasterChef Canada

Finally! Tonight’s episode of MasterChef Canada was an incredible challenge for the six remaining home cooks: they had to work in a professional kitchen. And it was not an ordinary kitchen, but chef Claudio’s restaurant, Copetin. No pressure! Kaegan and Michael G. won the last Tag team challenge which made them team captains this week and Michael G. had the advantage of choosing his teammates first. Nadia and Andy made it to Michael’s Red Team, while Eugene and Beccy were in Kaegan’s Blue Team.

The two teams were tasked with cooking two appetizers: La Plancha Octopus with green curry and compressed cucumber and Beef Tartare with smoked egg yolk and crispy pasta. For the entrées, they had to prepare Sea Bream with chorizo and clams and Lamb Loin with black lentils and Vichy carrots. The bar was raised very high for both teams and they had just one hour to prepare all the ingredients for the stunning dinner.

The Red Team started out very strong, showing good communication and teamwork while the Blue Team struggled from the beginning. The orders were coming, the teams were working hard. The appetizer service was completed and the guests had a few words to say. There were mixed reviews. Chefs Claudio, Alvin and Michael tried the appetizers from both squads. The Red Team’s octopus was a bit overdone, while the Blue Team’s was juicy and perfectly cooked. The tartare was underseasoned for both.

Then it was time for the main course! Kaegan was losing his confidence and struggling with being a team captain, so he made Beccy team captain and the service went smoother. Hashtag team Beccy? The Red Team was strong in the beginning and had a few ups and downs in the middle. Nevertheless, they made it through the challenge. Both teams perfectly seared the skin on the fish, the Blue Team cooked their meat perfectly, while the Red’s meat was a bit overdone. In the end one team was better than the other. The winning team was … the Red Team.

That meant, sadly, the Blue squad had to compete in the Pressure Test. Beccy, Eugene and Kaegan had to master a box of macarons in 75 minutes by presenting 10 macarons with two different fillings. Beccy decided on hazelnut praline and Bakewell tart macarons, Eugene with Thai-inspired and matcha macarons, and Kaegan with baked orange and lavender and coffee and rum macarons. All three cooks had some good and some bad. Beccy nailed the meringue and was safe from the elimination. Chefs Claudio, Alvin and Michael had to say goodbye to Kaegan after Eugene’s flavours saved him. Who do you think will win MasterChef Canada? Let me know in the comments below!

MasterChef Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.


Family Channel, Universal Kids and Six Eleven Media start production on new live-action scripted comedy Greenfields

From a media release:

DHX Television’s Family Channel, Universal Kids and Six Eleven Media are pleased to announce that production has begun on the new live-action series Greenfields. Created by Derek Harvie, the half-hour, single-camera comedy follows 12-year-old Max and his eclectic group of friends as they navigate the highs and lows of running a start-up company. The 20-episode order is being filmed in Toronto, with the series scheduled to debut on Family Channel (Canada) and Universal Kids (U.S.), NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s network for kids 2-12, in fall 2018.

Twelve-year-old Max Graham (newcomer Ricardo Ortiz) is President and CEO of a tiny start-up company, which he runs out of his parents’ garage with his neighbourhood pals. Their goal: to invent an amazing product, change the world and maybe even make a bajillion dollars! With every flop – and there’s quite a few – the gang learns valuable lessons, creates closer bonds and comes one step closer to their BIG idea, all the while trying to find the balance between business and friendship.

Featuring a predominantly Canadian cast, Greenfields stars Ricardo Ortiz as Max Graham; Arista Arhin (Odd Squad, Star Trek: Discovery) as the team’s newest member and Chief Product Designer, Alicia Windsor; Mya Singh (Odd Squad) as Max’s oldest friend and Head of Marketing and PR, Kaylyn French; Alec Dahmer as accidental class clown and Research Technician, Noodles; Jadian Toros as the youngest member of the team and Chief Financial Officer, Zeke; Adrianna Di Liello (Backstage, Annedroids) as Max’s older sister, Chelsea Graham; Sandy Jobin-Bevans (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) as Max’s dad, Bryan Graham; and Allison Price (The New Yorker Presents) as Max’s mom, Helen Graham.

Greenfields is produced by Six Eleven Media in association with DHX Television’s Family Channel and is executive produced by Derek Harvie and Charles Bishop with his team at Six Eleven Media. Greenfields is also produced with the participation of the Canadian Media Fund (CMF). International distribution will be handled by DHX Media.


Carmilla stars shine in their original web series CLAIREvoyant

I predict CLAIREvoyant will be a hit. No, I don’t need tarot cards or mind-reading to come to that conclusion. The key to the web series’ success—the first 10 episodes are available now on KindaTV—is in the story and relatability of the lead characters created by Annie Briggs and Natasha Negovanlis.

There is an instant likeability to Claire (Negovanlis) who, on her 25th birthday is handed an eviction notice. Now she and roommate/best friend Ruby (Briggs), have to collect back rent—fast—in order to keep their place. Their idea? Pose as online fortune tellers to cash in quickly. Easier said than done, especially when Claire discovers she may actually be, well, clairvoyant.

I spoke to Negovanlis and Briggs about CLAIREvoyant‘s genesis, writing and producing their own projects and representing the LGBTQ community.

Before we get into the story and characters, congratulations on the production values. CLAIREvoyant looks amazing.
Natasha Negovanlis: Thank you. We were very lucky to have Shaftesbury attached to this and I think it really added to the high production value.

Natasha, you and Annie came up with this idea while you bonded over your mutual obsession with fortune telling. What fascinated you about fortune tellers?
NN: It’s a number of things. Both Annie and I are interested in certain aspects of spirituality and divination. It was an interest I’ve had since I was a little girl. We grew up in the 90s when witches were very popular. [Laughs.] I think why supernatural-themed shows really resonate with a lot of LGBTQ folk like myself is this feeling of being the other. A feeling of being an outsider. I’ve always felt like that so I think that’s why I gravitated towards topics that were a little less mainstream. And, also, the way Annie and I were both raised; we both have family members who are a little bit spiritual or into these things as well.

But the seedling to CLAIREvoyant was that I was getting my nails done in this salon and I saw this woman and overheard her talking. She had read my tarot cards before and it was one of those $10 neon sign walk-in situations. I went mainly for the entertainment value but I was so fascinated with it. I started eavesdropping on her conversation. One day when Annie and I were hanging out and talking about that, I said, ‘Are they able to sustain themselves doing that?’ ‘Do they really have a gift or do they believe they have a gift?’ I was so interested in who they were as human beings outside of that work and we started talking about it, spitballing it and coming up with these really silly characters. The next day we texted each other and said, ‘I think we’re on to something.’

You have a built-in fan base thanks to Carmilla. How do you keep them in mind when creating something new?
Annie Briggs: The online community has been very vocal, in a very positive way, about what speaks to them and in terms of what makes them feel heard and what’s hurtful. For sure, we wanted to maintain that audience and honour them. But then, it’s also our responsibility as creators to maintain the integrity of these characters, their own traits and plotlines.

NN: It’s very much a balancing act as well. As a creator, you have a responsibility, I think to change the narrative. As two very progressive female creators, we certainly feel that. Something that was very important to us was having a female director in Simone Stock, for example. There were those aspects to it as well. And then, of course, the Carmilla audience is largely an LGBTQ audience and being a queer role model is very important to me personally, so we did write Claire as a queer character who is vastly different from Carmilla. We wanted to create a show that would expand our audience as well.

You’ve already spoken about queer characters. There are a few TV shows out there, like Wynonna Earp, that features queer characters but the web series seems to be the place to go for queer characters. Why do you think that is?
NN: I think that when you don’t have the extra layer of a network or broadcaster, you have a little bit more freedom to tell the stories you want to tell and I think digital allows people to tell stories that don’t fit into a neat box. More and more we’re seeing networks take on stories like Wynonna Earp, but the people who are in power for a long time have fit into one particular group for a long time. I think that’s starting to change, and as a digital creator, you can tell the stories you want to tell.

AB: And with digital, we’re seeing more risk-taking because of all of the things Natasha just spoke about. It’s a great incubation and testing ground. On a lower budget, you can tell a story, see where it lands, who it resonates with and if it has legs to extend beyond if that’s the trajectory of the project.

Natasha, this is your first writing and producing credit, correct?
NN: This is the first time I’ve been able to work as a writer and producer. I had always written poetry and short stories and used to write sketch comedy, but I had never been able to work on a set as a writer. It was a really wonderful experience for me and I was fortunate because I was working with Annie, who is so talented and has written before. She wrote Luvvie, which is an amazing short film, and we had another writer on board too. It was really nice to bounce ideas off one another. Our skillset really compliments one another.

Season 1 of CLAIREvoyant can be seen on KindaTV’s YouTube channel.

Images courtesy of Bartholomew J. Nowak for Shaftesbury.