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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Sony Pictures Television lands worldwide distribution for CTV’s The Launch in exclusive deal with Bell Media and Big Machine Label Group

From a media release:

Bell Media, Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), and Sony Pictures Television (SPT) announced today that SPT has secured international distribution rights to the new music TV format THE LAUNCH. As Bell Media and BMLG’s exclusive partner, SPT will distribute THE LAUNCH format worldwide, excluding Canada, and has its production company, Electric Ray, on board to produce the format in the U.K. The historic deal represents the first time a Bell Media original television format for CTV has been sold for international distribution. In addition, SPT will also distribute the Canadian series, which wrapped up its inaugural season on CTV last night, for sale outside of Canada.

In Canada, the inaugural season of THE LAUNCH debuted #1 in its timeslot on CTV and delivered a series of consecutive #1 hits. The series’ original songs have already surpassed 4 million streams worldwide and continue to grow.

Reinventing the music competition series genre, THE LAUNCH debuts a new and unique format, documenting an authentic, behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to break a new artist and bring a song to life. In each stand-alone episode, unsigned emerging artists audition for the opportunity to learn, record and perform a new original song, mentored by a panel of internationally renowned music industry legends.

The mentors then decide which version of the song is released on all platforms immediately following the broadcast of the episode – ultimately deciding in that moment whose career will soar – from discovery to stardom in just 48 hours and all in the span of one episode!

Based on a concept by Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Label Group, THE LAUNCH was co-created by Borchetta in association with Randy Lennox and Bell Media, and Paul Franklin of Eureka (MASTERCHEF, THE BIGGEST LOSER), in partnership with John Brunton and Lindsay Cox of Insight Productions.

A staggering roster of musical A-listers joined Borchetta as mentors in the Canadian version of THE LAUNCH, including international musical icon and reigning “Queen of Country Pop” Shania Twain; Culture Club alumnus and Grammy® Award-winner Boy George; eight-time GRAMMY® Award-winning multi-platinum superstar Fergie; Canadian GRAMMY® Award-winning singer and songwriter and international pop sensation Alessia Cara; rock icon and founding member of legendary rock band Mötley Crüe Nikki Sixx; Grammy®-nominated Best New Artist of the Year Julia Michaels; and Grammy® Award-winner and co-founder of country-pop duo Sugarland Jennifer Nettles.

Award-winning producers/songwriters cast alongside Borchetta in the breakout season of THE LAUNCH included OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, busbee (P!nk, Shakira, Blake Shelton), Dann Huff (producer behind more than 50 #1 hit records ), Grammy®-nominated record producer Ian Kirkpatrick (behind multi-platinum hit songs from Jason Derulo and Selena Gomez), and OSCAR® and GRAMMY®nominated producer Stephan Moccio, the music mastermind behind massive, inescapable hits like the quintuple-platinum “Wrecking Ball”.

With seven episodes in total, each of the first six episodes kicks off with the introduction of a new original song that has been created by a renowned songwriter. Then, each of the five artists audition for the mentors, for the chance of a lifetime: to record that original song.

After deliberating, the mentors choose two of the artists they feel have the most potential and are the right fit for the original song, working with them over the next 48 hours to shape the song according to their abilities and strengths. And then it’s showtime: the two artists each perform their rendition of the original song in front of a live audience as the mentors watch their versions of the song come to life, and then determine which song – and artist- will be launched that night.

The season wraps with a seventh and final episode that reveals what happens next to each of the six chosen artists from the moment their song is released, to finding instant fame and through until they join their mentors on the music charts. The episode ends with all six “Launched” alumni meeting for the first time to share their once in a lifetime experiences with one another.

The inaugural edition of THE LAUNCH, created for CTV – Canada’s most-watched private broadcaster, premiered on the network January 11, 2018 with each episode’s song released weekly and leveraging the multiple platforms and resources of Bell Media, Canada’s leading content company, including Bell Media Radio, Canada’s largest radio broadcaster, along with the iHeartRadio Canada app and Bell Media’s stable of leading digital and TV properties. Bell Media’s commitment to the chosen artists continues with major media and promotion the day after the episodes air on flagship Bell Media radio and television properties.

The format and series were introduced to SPT by Jane Rimer, Chief, International Business & Creative Development, Insight Productions.

The Canadian version of THE LAUNCH is executive produced by Scott Borchetta, Randy Lennox and John Brunton; Lindsay Cox and Paul Franklin are Showrunners and Executive Producers; Executive Producers for Bell Media are Robin Johnston and Corrie Coe, who is also Senior Vice-President, Original Programming, Bell Media.

 

 

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Caught: Allan Hawco’s adaptation of Lisa Moore’s novel was worth the wait

Way back in the spring of 2016, the CBC announced Caught—an adaptation of Lisa Moore’s acclaimed noverl—as part of its 2016-17 broadcast lineup. But by June of 2016, Caught‘s fate had changed. So, what was the reasoning behind the project’s delay of over a year? Timing.

“This got announced back when we were wrapping Republic of Doyle,” Allan Hawco, Caught‘s writer, showrunner, executive producer and star, says. “I took the time to go deeper into the material. The ambition of the material, the ambition of the period and because it’s an adaptation of Lisa’s book, we just needed the time to gather more resources.”

The wait has been worth it.

Debuting Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, Caught is a five-part roller coaster caper lovingly wrapped up in the pot-fragranced, lead gas guzzling, rock anthem setting that is 1978.

Tori Anderson as Ada, Greg Bryk as Cyril Carter

Locked up after a drug deal goes wrong, David Slaney (Allan Hawco) breaks out of a New Brunswick prison to try one more caper with his former partner Brian Hearn (Eric Johnson). It’s Slaney’s last chance at freedom, but nothing is what it seems. Slings & Arrow‘s Paul Gross plays RCMP detective Roy Patterson; Open Heart‘s Tori Anderson is Ada, Brian’s gal pal; Mary Kills People‘s Charlotte Sullivan is Jennifer Baker;  Rookie Blue‘s Enuka Okuma is KC Williams, a DEA agent who teams with Roy; and Greg Bryk as Cyril Carter, a friend of Brian’s.

Eric Johnson as Brian Hearn

Monday’s debut opens to the strains of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around the Bend,” as Slaney sprints through a darkened forest, prison dogs and guards at his heels. But as Slaney quickly discovers, his friend Brian may be the reason he ended up in prison in the first place. Filmed in St. John’s, Hamilton, Ont., and the Dominican Republic, Caught certainly captures the late 70s in all its glory, from pale brown leather jackets and wood panelling to the permed hair and tobacco smoke hanging over everything. And, as Slaney crosses the country attempting to evade capture at the hands of Patterson and KC, we meet colourful characters along the way.

Hawco purchased the television rights to Caught after Tecca Crosby, eOne’s senior vice-president of creative affairs, handed the book to him in 2014. Hawco was in Toronto performing Belleville at The Company Theatre and headed back to where he was staying. He and Perry Chafe—one of his partners at Take the Shot Productions and executive producer on Doyle, Frontier and Caught—bought a couple of copies of the book at a local Chapters bookstore. Hawco read Caught in three hours.

Paul Gross as Roy Patterson

“I could hear the soundtrack, I could see the show right away,” Hawco says. “The rights for the book were being sought after by a bunch of people, so I called Lisa and said, ‘I want to work with you on this.’ I think the pedigree of Doyle and that we were just starting Frontier at the time helped. The character of Slaney spoke to me.” Hawco credits Moore’s writing—the ability to craft an inner monologue on the page—with his connection to Slaney and offered the veteran performer the opportunity to play a role he’s never done. Hawco did futz with the source material a bit when crafting his adapation—creating KC Williams as a partner for Patterson, who is a lone wolf in the novel—and some plot deviations, but the novel’s DNA is still there.

Enuka Okuma as KC Williams

“For a cops and smugglers story on television, there were some plot points we had to adjust and characters’ drives that needed to be changed,” Hawco says. “But I worked really hard to anchor all that in pivotal moments in the book so that you’re not watching a completely different thing. I tried to honour the pillars that Lisa put in there.”

Caught airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

 

 

 

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TV, Eh? podcast Episode 240 — Tractors, barns and his loyal dog

It’s been a month since Anthony and Greg have recorded. This month’s instalment brought to you by Arizona Arnold Palmer Peach!

Much of the podcast is spent breaking down the next month of Canadian TV programming via the calendar, followed by the National Film Board and APTN’s new partnership, the return of North of 60, and the latest job cuts made by Global News and Shaw Communications.

Listen or download below, or subscribe via iTunes or any other podcast catcher with the TV, eh? podcast feed.

Want to support TV, eh?’s work? Become a Patreon!

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CraveTV’s first original stand-up special, Darcy Michael goes to Church, begins streaming March 9

From a media release:

Hilariously irreverent homegrown comedy star Darcy Michael headlines a sermon where no topic, including gay parenting and casual drug use, is too taboo in CraveTV’s first commission of original stand-up comedy, DARCY MICHAEL GOES TO CHURCH. The one-hour special, developed in partnership with Just For Laughs, begins streaming on Friday, March 9 and joins CraveTV’s popular Stand-Up Comedy Collection.

As was announced last September, CraveTV, Just For Laughs, and Counterfeit Pictures have partnered to create three original stand-up specials showcasing some of Canada’s funniest comedy talents. Darcy Michael, Debra DiGiovanni, and Graham Chittenden hit the stage at Toronto’s Berkeley Church during last fall’s JFL42 Festival to tape the one-hour specials which mark CraveTV’s debut original stand-up specials.

An engaging presence on the Canadian comedy scene for over 10 years, Darcy Michael has 10 national televised comedy galas under his belt, and appeared opposite Dave Foley on the CTV comedy series SPUN OUT. A two-time Canadian Comedy Award-nominee, Darcy has also appeared on The Comedy Network’s MATCH GAME and CBC Radio’s The Debaters.

Following DARCY MICHAEL GOES TO CHURCH, DEBRA DIGIOVANNI: HERE’S THE THING streams in April and features the original cat lady and master of fast-talking comedy as she explains her love of otters, male models, and TV shows about murder, GRAHAM CHITTENDEN: RELUCTANT ADULT follows in May and showcases Chittenden as he hilariously laments the responsibilities of adult life.

DARCY MICHAEL GOES TO CHURCH, DEBRA DIGIOVANNI: HERE’S THE THING, and GRAHAM CHITTENDEN: RELUCTANT ADULT are co-produced by Just For Laughs Television and Counterfeit Pictures, in association with Bell Media’s CraveTV. Executive producers are Bruce Hills from Just For Laughs, as well as Dan Bennett, Shane Corkery, and Anton Leo from Counterfeit Pictures. The specials are directed by Shelagh O’Brien.

 

 

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Preview: Al Jolson visits Murdoch Mysteries

After a three-week break for the Winter Olympics, Murdoch Mysteries roars back onto CBC’s schedule with an interesting and unique episode.

“Murdoch Schmurdoch,” written by Robert Rotenberg and Lori Spring and directed by Sherren Lee, isn’t your traditional Murdoch episode. Well, yes, there is a crime and most of the major characters are involved, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Here’s what the CBC has revealed in their official synopsis:

Murdoch investigates a murder with connections to vaudeville entertainers Harry and Al Jolson and Watts unravels a mystery about his own family.

And, as always, a few more tidbits from me after watching a screener.

John Brackenreid returns
After several episodes away, John is back in Station House No. 4 where he spends a lot of time alongside Higgins, working the main murder case. And, while working it, someone catches John’s eye. Is yet another romantic relationship in the cards for a Murdoch character?

Al and Harry Jolson visit Toronto
My research—OK, Google—shows Al did indeed perform in Toronto, though not exactly during Murdoch Mysteries‘ timeline. No matter, he and his brother make an immediate impact. Kudos to Sayer Roberts for the great performance as Al, who connects with Detective Watts in a major, and surprising, storyline.

Detective Watts gets spiritual
Daniel Maslany gets major screen time on Monday night and I couldn’t be happier. Not only is the slightly dishevelled detective on point during the murder investigation, but he and Al Jolson spend numerous scenes together, rounding out Watts in a fascinating way.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

 

 

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