Tag Archives: Bell Media

MasterChef Canada Season 5 finalists revealed in advance of April 3 premiere on CTV

From a media release:

CTV unveiled today the Top 21 MASTERCHEF CANADA finalists competing for a chance to capture the life-changing title of Canada’s next MasterChef. In a MASTERCHEF CANADA first, this season the esteemed judges pay a surprise personal visit to 21 of the best home cooks across the country, who in turn set off to the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen in Toronto to prepare a dish for the judges. The networks hit series fires up Season 5 on Tuesday, April 3 at 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. MT on CTV and CTV GO.

Distinguished Canadian judges Michael Bonacini (O&B restaurant empire), Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation in Hong Kong), and Claudio Aprile (Copetin Restaurant & Bar) mark their joyous return to the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen anticipating tastes of the tantalizing dishes prepared by the Top 21. The home cooks set out to wow the judges in a chance to prove they have the culinary chops to earn a coveted white apron, and a chance to compete for the MASTERCHEF CANADA title and $100,000 cash prize.

Season 5’s Top 21 home cooks vying for the MASTERCHEF CANADA title are:

  • Reem Ahmed, Biomedical Engineer from Toronto, Ont.
  • Oyakhire Airende, Operations Analyst from Calgary, Alta.
  • Eugene Cheng, Financial Advisor and Rowing Coach from Vancouver, B.C.
  • Kaegan Donnelly, Software Sales from Vancouver, B.C.
  • Claudia Escudero, Customer Service Representative from Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Qué.
  • Felix Fudge, Sanitization Specialist from Halifax, N.S.
  • Michael Griffiths, Mathematician from Richmond Hill, Ont.
  • Andy Hay, Small Business Owner from Dartmouth, N.S.
  • Jen Jenkins, Stay-at-Home Mom from Dawson Creek, B.C.
  • Nikita Kaisar, Human Resources Management Graduate from Toronto, Ont.
  • Layla Kelly, Musician from Halifax, N.S.
  • Marissa Leon-John, Tech Support Manager from DollarddesOrmeaux, Qué.
  • Peter Maltais, Truck Driver from Kitchener, Ont.
  • Dawn O’Hara, Stay-at-Home Mom from Calgary, Alta.
  • Sienna Potter, Customer Service Representative from Yarmouth, N.S.
  • Jonathan Rahim, Real Estate Agent from Winnipeg, Man.
  • Nadia Rehman, Account Executive from Markham, Ont.
  • Mike Schroeder, Autism Support Worker from Kentville, N.S.
  • Melissa Skowron, Facilities Coordinator from Calgary, Alta.
  • Beccy Stables, Tile Setter Assistant from Sherwood Park, Alta.
  • Michael Varga, Firefighter from Vancouver, B.C.

In each episode, the home cooks are pushed to the limit in a series of Mystery Box Challenges, Team Challenges, and Pressure Tests, with the three judges providing direction and feedback throughout the process. Each task is designed to test and hone the home cooks’ skill, knowledge, passion, and creativity. At the conclusion of each episode at least one person is eliminated until there are only two home cooks left vying for the life-changing MASTERCHEF CANADA title.

Fans are invited to visit CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada throughout the season for exclusive content, including background on this season’s finalists and the MASTERCHEF CANADA judges, as well as interviews, recipes, and more. CTV.ca also offers viewers behind-the-scenes glimpses of this season’s challenges, culinary creations, triumphs, and upsets.

Leading up to the Season 5 premiere, viewers across the country can satisfy their MASTERCHEF CANADA cravings by tuning to the series’ previous seasons, now streaming on CraveTV™.

Following the finale of Season 5 on CTV, the current season of MASTERCHEF CANADA will be available in its entirety on CraveTV, and is also slated to air on Gusto this summer (check local listings).

The MASTERCHEF format and finished programmes are represented internationally by Endemol Shine Group, and is based on a format originally created by Franc Roddam.

MASTERCHEF CANADA is produced by Proper Television in association with CTV. Proper’s Co-President Cathie James is the Executive Producer and Showrunner and Co-President Lesia Capone is Executive Producer.




Preview: Train lovers rejoice! Rocky Mountain Railroad chugs on to Discovery Canada

All aboard! Discovery’s Rocky Mountain Railroad is pulling out of the station, and you don’t want to miss this fun ride when it debuts Monday, March 5, at 10 p.m. ET on the specialty channel.

Produced by Cineflix Productions (Mayday) and Windfall Films in association with Discovery Canada, the documentary series features the folks and machinery of the Canadian Pacific Railway and Ontario Northland railway. Cameras capture how crews keep the nation’s critical freight and passenger trains rolling during the winter months by battling deadly avalanches, monster icicles, steep rockslides and dangerous wildlife.

I was particularly interested in the passenger angle of Rocky Mountain Railroad. My dad’s side of the family is from Cochrane, Ont., a stop on the Ontario Northland route and starting and end points for the Polar Bear Express train to Moosonee. I’ve always dreamed of riding the Polar Bear Express; I figure this show will keep that hunger sated until I can do the real thing. So, how does Rocky Mountain Railroad stack up to, say, Mighty Trains?

Quite well, in fact. Though I appreciate learning about trains and their crews in other countries, I’m a proud Canadian and as such love a program that focuses solely on us. Like Highway Thru Hell does for key roadways in the western parts of this country, Rocky Mountain Railroad does for the ribbon of steel by celebrating and spotlighting the machinery and humans that keep the rail lines open in the winter. Built more than 135 years ago and stretching 5,000 km across Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway is a lifeline of fuel, freight and food that cannot be cut.

In Monday’s debut, steep grades and a lot of snow in Revelstoke, B.C., serve up a challenge for those charged with keeping the tracks clear. It’s fascinating to watch the snowplow crews do their work. Conductor Jim and engineer Jordy are hauling $50 million worth of freight from Vancouver—that had been on a massive ship from overseas—through an avalanche zone that’s just received lots of fresh snow, while a removal crew tackles giant ice columns at Eagle Pass that could spell disaster for passing trains. Viewers will learn a lot about avalanches in Episode 1, as well as what’s done to prevent them from taking out a train.

Meanwhile, Ontario Northland ships crucial materials to isolated communities in the north of the province in punishingly cold temperatures. On this stretch of rail, the train will stop and ship anything if you flag them down. In the case of George, it means filling an entire car with firewood for delivery to Moose Factory, Ont., where burning wood is the only economical option to keep warm.

If you’re a train fanatic, you’ll love Rocky Mountain Railroad. And even if you’re not, it’s an engrossing and informative look at the people and trains who keep things moving in some of the most dangerous places in the country.

Rocky Mountain Railroad airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.




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.




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.




Cardinal: Showrunner Sarah Dodd reflects on Blackfly Season

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched the season finale of Cardinal: Blackfly Season “El Brujo”!!

Well, Cardinal fans, were you shocked by the season finale of Blackfly Season? Although I’ve read the books, Thursday’s climax still left me breathless. My heart went out to John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) when he realized the person who’d jumped to their death was his beloved wife, Catherine (Deborah Hay).

That wasn’t the only stressful moment during “El Brujo.” In true, nail-biting fashion, the fates of Terri (Alex Paxton-Beesley) and Kevin Tait (Jonathan Keltz) were up in the air when it appeared Leon Rutkowsky (Dan Petronijevic) and Ray Northwood (Bruce Ramsay) would get their final sacrifice. As it was, the bad guys were arrested in time—I was secretly hoping they’d be killed—and order was restored.

We spoke to Blackfly Season showrunner Sarah Dodd—who most recently served as a co-executive producer on Motive—to talk about her experience adapting Giles Blunt’s novel for television, the challenges of filming night scenes and what’s next for John Cardinal.

Before we get into specifics about this season and the season finale, can you tell me how you became involved in Cardinal in the first place?
Sarah Dodd: I was working in London, England, on a series called Ransom. And that show has among other production partners, Sienna Films. So, when I was in their story room on Ransom, they were looking for showrunners on Season 2 and 3 of Cardinal. They called me and asked if I would be interested and I jumped at the chance. I’ve always wanted to do a limited-run murder mystery series like this. I’m a big fan of all the Scandi-noir stuff and shows like Happy Valley, Broadchurch and The Killing. So, I said, yes that I would love to. I came back to Canada at the end of the summer in 2016 and read all six books that Giles Blunt wrote and that was how it started.

Was there any nervousness on your part? Giles Blunt established this world in his book and Aubrey Nealon set the stage in Season 1.
It was both terrifying and inspiring. The books are very cinematic. Giles is very good at writing a scene and I was inspired by how much was there in the material. I was definitely daunted by the big shoes I had to fill from Aubrey’s season. I was a huge fan of Season 1, so it was a brass ring. I just had to go for it. But, always in the back of my mind was, ‘I have to be true to it and really honour Season 1 and not disappoint the fans.’ My biggest fear was that everyone who fell in love with Season 1 would be disappointed in Season 2. [Laughs.]

But, at the same time, I was working with a great advantage because I was writing for Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Glen Gould and all of these actors in my head.

What did you learn about the differences between writing a six-episode season and an 18-episode one?
It is less daunting because it’s only six episodes but in other ways, it’s a completely different art form for me. It’s a miniseries, so it’s long-form and I have done so much episodic that this was very new for me to carry one case over the course of six episodes. I had never done that before so writing a new genre, basically, was exciting and scary. We also only had five weeks in the writer’s room to break all six stories and walk out of that room knowing how to write up our outline. We couldn’t have done that if we didn’t have the book. We added a lot of characters and storylines that weren’t in the book and we changed a lot of things and made some adjustments, so it was challenging in that way.

What did working on Cardinal force you to do as a television writer?
I think that Jennica Harper and Alison Lea Bingeman would agree that it was a really fantastic opportunity to dig deep into character. The other noticeable difference for me was less dialogue. The standard one-hour episodic that I’m used to writing is dialogue heavy and with Cardinal we had to find ways of cutting way back. Less was more, especially John Cardinal. He doesn’t say much. Neither does Lise Delorme, really. In their scenes together, so much of what they say passes between their faces. The other big thing is that when we were breaking the episodes we were working on index cards with a colour-coded system. We made sure that we had a specific colour that was the visual card. There was no plot, we just knew we wanted an image there. It wasn’t part of the story. The landscape of Cardinal is character in the show, so we were breaking story, plotting characters and thinking a lot about visuals.

Can you talk a little bit about working with Jeff Renfroe? He directed all six episodes and established a wonderful colour palette and look for Season 2.
I thought that Daniel Grou and Aubrey did a wonderful job in Season 1. Everybody talked about that dark, cold landscape and how much landscape was a part of the show. And my story takes place in the summer, right? The first conversation I had with Jeff was, ‘What will be our birch tree? What will be Cardinal’s mind palace, for lack of a better word? What are we going to see when we are trying to get into the emotion of the characters?’ From a writing perspective, we always thought about cottage country in the summer. Boats, beaches, campfires and going to the bar in the summer when the sun hasn’t even gone down yet. Bugs swarming you. And then I looked to Jeff and Dylan Macleod, our cinematographer to undercut that so that we always have that eerie feeling that things aren’t quite right. Our touchstone was that there was a rot behind the beauty. A decaying quality.

How did you go about choosing your writing team? 
Both Sienna and Bell were very supportive of me finding the right people for my little room. I had just worked with Jennica on Motive and we get along really well. Not only is she a very good one-hour procedural writer but I also know her as a poet so I knew she would be able to bring that lyrical, metaphorical quality to the writing and in the imagery. And she’s also got comedy chops. I had met Alison socially but I had never worked with her before, but we share an agent and Alison has had a project in development with Sienna, so they knew her and she’d done 19-2 with Bell so they knew her. And I knew from my group of writer friends that Alison was good with one-hour procedurals not only with breaking but with serialized storytelling in This Life. We had a telephone conversation and I got to know a great new writer in the process. We also had a fourth person in the room named Gemma Holdway who was our intern at first and then was upgraded to story editor.

Bruce Ramsay played a wonderful bad guy in Ray Northwind.
Casting that character was huge. When we were developing the series and writing the scripts always in the back of our minds was, ‘Who are we going to get to play Ray?’ It can’t be the moustache-twirling stock villain. It has to be someone with some pain and some layers and a bizarre, otherworldly confidence. It was a tall order and we were thrilled to get Bruce.

Terri ends up being a real bad-ass and flat-out saves Kevin in a lot of ways in the finale.
That was another conscious change that we made from the book. She gets a little forgotten about by the end of the book and we thought that because we’ve invested so much time with her and she’s really put her life on hold to come and extricate her brother from a bad situation, we didn’t see her as someone who would just give up. We think she’s a fighter and wanted to have her be active in the finale.

How long did the fight scene between Cardinal and Ray last when it came to filming it?
It was faster than you might think because we had a lot of camera coverage and we covered it from every angle. Every filming day was packed and Jeff had so much to accomplish and that day was no different because we had stunts and underwater work and working in the dark. I had a lot of discussion with Jeff and Dylan in pre-production about motivating light at the camp. In the book, the place is completely off the grid and it would have been all lanterns and candles and flashlights but because we needed some practical lighting to motivate Dylan’s lighting along the walkways and down by the shore so we could see the actors’ faces and know what was going on we said, ‘OK, they have a generator somewhere.’

If anyone has read the books they know Catherine dies at the beginning of the third novel, By the Time You Read This. Why was it decided she would die at the end of Season 2?
There were lots of conversations around that to make sure it was the best choice. For the writers, we thought that if we didn’t end Catherine’s story there that if you looked back over the six episodes of Season 2 you would say, ‘What is Catherine and Cardinal’s story?’ There is a strong beginning because she’s out of the hospital and is well and back at work. Their daughter is doing well in Toronto. But there is always this undercurrent of when is the next time and it’s inevitable there will be a next time. Cardinal is ready to hang it up so that he can be there with Catherine so that maybe there isn’t a next time. That, of course, is a dream.

What did you think of Season 2 of Cardinal? Are you excited to see Season 3? Let me know in the comments and check out the Season 3 teaser trailer!