Tag Archives: CTV

Amazing Race Canada: Balloons, balls and ballet in Winnipeg

Let’s be honest. Zainab and Monica’s luck was going to run out eventually on The Amazing Race Canada. It happened last week, leaving six of the strongest teams left to battle for top position as the midway point to the season was reached.

With two flights of three departing for Winnipeg, that meant split-ups and, perhaps, a little more drama when it came to airplanes. Taylor and Courtney looked very strong headed into this Leg of the Race and are definitely the team to beat. But with the season’s first head-to-head competition, would the RCMP officers prevail? They, along with Mel and Nancy and Leanne and Mar were all on the treasured first flight while Martina and Phil, Dylan and Kwame and Courtney and Adam had to settle for departure No. 2.

There was no indication of how much of an advantage Flight No. 1 had over No. 2 other than the second trio saw the first depart, destined for Winnipeg and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Leanne and Mar got there before the other squads but the task was a great equalizer. Teams had to pair quotes with the images of the human rights activists who uttered them; with 11 galleries to scour, this was going to be tough. With viewers having no idea how long the task took, it was the cheerleaders who emerged first. The back half trios arrived at the museum while Nancy and Mel were still there, so there wasn’t too much lag time between flights out of Toronto. Martina and Phil’s plan of dividing and conquering paid off and they jumped to third place. Nancy and Mel and Courtney and Adam teamed up to finish their boards.

The Leg’s Detour, as usual, offered two options. In Tights, Racers made their way to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to learn some key steps from Swan Lake. In Bites, Racers used Skip the Dishes to deliver two bags of food to hungry citizens. Leanne and Mar, of course, chose Tights. Having several dance-themed challenges this season has really played to their strengths. Taylor and Courtney opted for ballet too, much to the former’s chagrin who was disturbed by the thong up his “arse.”

Meanwhile, Phil and Martina chose Bites, as did Courtney and Adam, leaving Nancy and Mel to dance … and Kwame and Dylan out in the cold. They exited the museum for Bites in last place. A parking ticket (it was a warning) gave Adam the opportunity to highlight the friendliness of Canadians before wishing Fran a happy birthday and hot pizza. Martina and Phil botched the location of their second delivery (apartment buildings are a pain) but got positive reviews. (Um, how much food did Fran and Travis order??)

Leanne and Mar, predictably by this point, nailed the ballet in their first attempt and departed for the Face Off to throw darts at the Royal Canadian Legion. Once there, the first team to hit all segments of the board would be their ticket to advance. Leanne and Mar faced off against Courtney and Taylor. It was the siblings who won, leaving Leanne and Mar to take on Nancy and Mel. Leanne and Mar were triumphant, leaving Nancy and Mel to throw down against Martina and Phil. Martina and Phil won, leaving Nancy and Mel to face Dylan and Kwame. Kwame, who had never thrown a dart in his life, made it look easy and they moved on, leaving Nancy and Mel vs. Adam and Courtney. Not even Mel’s two bullseyes could stop Adam and Courtney, who left the rodeo star and Olympian in last place to wait out a time penalty.

Now in first place, Courtney and Taylor drove to The Forks Market and the Road Block. Here, Racers had to complete the cup and ball trick and create a balloon animal. Courtney, Leanne and Martina all took the test head-on (Martina’s facial expressions killed me), with Courtney finishing it quickly. Honestly, she was really good at both tasks and had the enthusiasm needed to deliver a quality magic trick. Dylan looked amazing decked out in his magician’s outfit but struggled to complete the task.

The Leg’s Pit Stop was located in the Leo Mol garden in the heart of Assiniboine Park where Jon welcomed Courtney and Taylor in first place for the third straight time. Martina and Phil, who have proved to be a lot better in reality than perhaps they were on paper, arrived in second place. Adam and Courtney seemed destined for a decent finish until they got lost on the way to the park. Still, it made no difference and they arrived on the mat ahead of Nancy and Mel.

In a turn of events that I should have seen coming, Jon revealed this was a non-elimination Leg and Nancy and Mel were still in the mix. They’ll have to complete an additional task next week in Prince Edward Island.

Do you think this should have been a non-elimination Leg? Can Martina and Phil win it all? Let me know in the comments below.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Courtney and Taylor (trip for two to New York City)
  2. Martina and Phil
  3. Leanne and Mar
  4. Dylan and Kwame
  5. Courtney and Adam
  6. Nancy and Mel (non-elimination Leg)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


CTV dishes out a sixth season of hit culinary series MasterChef Canada

From a media release:

Following MASTERCHEF CANADA’s youngest-ever winner, Beccy Stables being crowned earlier this summer, CTV announced today Season 6 of its hit culinary competition series MASTERCHEF CANADA for the 2018/2019 broadcast season. Casting for passionate home cooks looking to follow their food dreams is now open at CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada, with production set to begin this fall in Toronto on a new 12-episode season from Proper Television.

Marking a return to the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen are distinguished Canadian judges Michael Bonacini (O&B restaurant empire), Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation in Hong Kong), and Claudio Aprile (Copetin Restaurant & Bar). The esteemed trio are poised to once again mentor and challenge everyday Canadian home cooks to elevate their cooking and presentation skills to a professional level, as they compete in high-stakes cooking challenges to secure the MASTERCHEF CANADA title and take home a $100,000 cash prize.

Canadians maintain a strong appetite for MASTERCHEF CANADA. A Top 15 program on Canadian television with all key demos this past spring, Season 5 of MASTERCHEF CANADA averaged 1.2 million total viewers weekly.

Casting for Season 6 of MASTERCHEF CANADA is now open at CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada. Passionate and talented Canadian home cooks hungry for an opportunity to capture the life-changing title of Canada’s next MasterChef have until Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. ET to apply online. Further to online casting submissions, invitation-only auditions will be held across Canada this summer, so home cooks are encouraged to get their applications in soon. In addition, an in-person Open Casting Call will be held in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 30 – for more information, visit CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada.

Viewers can relive all the culinary action from the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen with Season 5 episodes available on demand at CTV.ca, CTV GO app. Season 5 is also available on CraveTV™ and airing Mondays at 7 p.m. ET on Gusto.

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.


Amazing Race Canada: Dancing and Double U-Turns in Toronto

Last week in Stratford, Ont., Zainab and Monica were once again saved from elimination when it was revealed the Leg wasn’t over and that teams were headed to Toronto. That also meant that I—along with fellow journalists and social media influencers—would continue our travels as well.

Shortly after Taylor and Courtney landed on the mat in first place, we headed for the production vehicle and hit the highway for Canada’s largest city. Humidity and rain showers threatened as they, and we departed. Teams were tasked with, once they’d arrived in Toronto, visiting the observation deck at city hall to locate a flag marking the location of the next clue. (Behind the curtain: we skipped the observation deck, a personal bummer, and set up shop in Yonge-Dundas Square to see who would arrive first. We heard several teams were slowed down by weather and traffic.) Taylor and Courtney saw the flag right away, Adam and Courtney ended up at Queen’s Quay, and Phil and Martina arrived at city hall and quickly spotted the flag.

In the Road Block, teams had to pack a pile of kitschy items into the back of a Chevrolet Spark and then back another Spark into a parking space. Taylor took on the test. Because they were in the lead, Taylor took some time to figure out which things should go into the car first. Martina felt rushed and quickly fell behind. Nancy and Mellisa, meanwhile, managed to shake Dylan and Kwame at city hall. Taylor knocked over one cone backing up and had to re-do the task. He was still done way in advance and he and Taylor left Yonge-Dundas Square in first. (Behind the curtain: As I just typed, Taylor and Courtney were done and gone quickly. Editing made it look like it was far closer than it really was. Also? There was a super-fan yelling while the Road Block was happening. I’m surprised I couldn’t hear her during the broadcast.)

The next stop? One of the most unique bookstores in the world. The Monkey’s Paw bookstore features the Biblio-Mat, a machine that vends odd books. I’ve used it and was given a book on the history of hanging in England. Anyway, the Racers had to use public transit to get there while our production vehicle drove us over. The Monkey’s Paw was also the location of a Double U-Turn.

Back at Yonge-Dundas Square, Martina and Phil completed the task, followed by Nancy and Mel, an impressive Dylan and Kwame (the super-fan gave them directions), Adam and Courtney and Leanne and Mar. Zainab and Monica ran right past the square and into the building next door, delaying their arrival.

Taylor and Courtney used the Biblio-Mat and received the Detour locations. In Latte Art, Racers had to make two lattes at Versus Coffee and then produce the same intricate foam art that the barista did. In Walk the Park, Racers ventured to El Convento Rico, a Latin nightclub, to vogue their way to their next clue. (Behind the curtain: we were camped out here. This compact, sweaty little club was jam-packed with dancers and audience members. It was a blast to see the excitement as teams arrived and the support the audience gave them during the challenges.)

Martina and Phil opted for Latte Art. (Behind the curtain: we were in The Monkey’s Paw when Phil and Martina arrived. I was secretly hoping to make it on TV—we were asked to act like customers—but were left on the cutting-room floor.) Nancy and Mel, meanwhile, were again shadowed by Kwame and Dylan as they sprinted to the bookstore and then to the club. Courtney and Adam, worried about their own safety, U-Turned Monica and Zainab.

Taylor and Courtney nailed the routine in their first try (the energy in the club was electric when they finished) and departed first, followed by Leanne and Mar. (We left after the cheerleaders too, for our final destination.) Mel and Nancy vogued to success next, followed by Dylan and Kwame and Kwame’s Hammer pants. That left Adam and Courtney and Zainab and Monica fighting to complete the routine first. Of course, Monica and Zainab still had to make the lattes.

The North York Harvest Food Bank was the next stop for the Racers, where they teamed with Dempster’s to prep and pack boxes of baked goods for shipment across the region to families in need. Taylor and Courtney kept their heads, stayed organized and filled the boxes before anyone else had arrived. They departed for Ireland Park, steps from the ferry to Billy Bishop Airport, and the Pit Stop. Mar and Leanne misread the clipboard and began collecting boxes of baked goods instead of bags. It wasn’t until they asked Mel and Nancy what they were doing that the cheerleaders realized their mistake and got back on track. That lost them a higher ranking to Mel and Nancy, who completed the Leg in second place.

Taylor and Courtney, who led this Leg and the last one, landed on the mat in front of Jon Montgomery and Season 5 winners Sam and Paul. (Behind the curtain: check out the video of that happening above. Sorry, the sound is a little bad, we weren’t allowed to be very close. Also? Every team we watched arrive did it from behind the cameras and lights and had to re-do the run down the pier.)

As expected, Zainab and Monica’s luck ran out during this Leg and they couldn’t come back from being U-Turned by Adam and Courtney. They were eliminated from the Race.

Once again, a big thank you to Bell Media, Insight Productions and CTV’s public relations team for inviting me along on this fun and very full day. It was a thrill to watch filming and get the opportunity to stand on the mat at the end of the Leg.

Who do you think can win it all this season? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Taylor and Courtney (trip for two to Hong Kong)
  2. Mel and Nancy
  3. Martina and Phil
  4. Leanne and Mar
  5. Dylan and Kwame
  6. Courtney and Adam
  7. Zainab and Monica (eliminated)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

Club images courtesy of Bell Media.


Amazing Race Canada: Sprinting in Stratford

After a Leg outside of Canada in Indonesia, The Amazing Race Canada jetted back to the home country for a bit of smalltown entertainment in Stratford, Ontario, and one whopper of a surprise at the end of it.

I was given the chance to watch production on this Leg of the Race roll out—you can read some of that here—and it was a fascinating peek into how it is put together both outside and inside the editing suite. Leanne and Mar, who were tops last week, were the first to depart for Stratford. Martina and Phil were feeling particularly good (and they certainly should have) for coming in 6th place despite being U-Turned.

The 16,000 km flight from Jakarta to Toronto took its toll on a couple of teams. The clue instructed pairs to drive to where the Chevy Equinox had been built. Mar and Leanne, Nancy and Mel, Zainab and Monica and Courtney and Adam—rather than going to Ingersoll, Ont., west of Toronto—incorrectly picked Oshawa, Ont., as the destination and wasted more than an hour going the wrong way. I can’t help but feel that affected morale a bit the next day. Taylor and Courtney were the first to arrive in Ingersoll. But, of course, the CAMI assembly plant was closed for the day, delaying the first challenge of the Leg until dawn.

The Route Info decreed each team would watch a silent demonstration and assemble one Equinox door. Because of safety concerns within the plant, I and the rest of my media colleagues weren’t allowed to observe this, so we waited in Stratford. Word came back that the teams were having a much harder time completing this task than producers thought and were falling behind. (A peek behind the curtain: producers have a binder for each city that contains key Leg information, summations of the Detours and Road Blocks and how long each challenge should take for a faster team or a slower one.)

Kwame and Dillon were triumphant and departed for Stratford, home of the Stratford Festival and its Festival Theatre. Adam and Courtney were next to finish, followed by Martina and Phil and Courtney and Taylor. I was scratching my head at this point because I knew Martina and Phil were the first to take on the Road Block duel. Turns out that was because Kwame and Dillon got lost and fell to 4th place. Zainab and Monica were firmly in last leaving the assembly plant. However, their fortunes reversed when Mar and Leanne made a wrong turn and the cheerleaders fell into the final spot.

Teams were tasked with donning period costumes and learning a pretty intricate combat sequence. This was all about learning the moves and playing up the dramatics, something nurse Courtney failed to do during her first few attempts. (Behind the curtain: Phil was even slower in person during his first attempt. We sat in the Festival Theatre and observed the first several teams duel before leaving to follow the leading teams to the next challenge.)

In this Leg’s Detour, teams could either take a trip on the Avon River via paddleboat to collect emoji pieces or pack chocolates into boxes at the legendary Rhéo Thompson Candies. I would have chosen to pack the 10 boxes of mint smoothies and 10 boxes of assorted jellies, so it was fun to stand off to the side and watch Martina and Phil, Courtney and Adam and Zainab and Monica while Courtney and Taylor and Dillon and Kwame chose to hit the lazy river. (Behind the curtain: the mint smoothies are delicious. So are the chocolate-dipped apricots. Also? Rhéo Thompson ships across Canada. You’re welcome.) What we didn’t witness was how many times Mar wanted to rehearse the fight routine, putting them far behind the other squads. It was super quiet in the chocolate factory and you could feel the tension, especially when Martina and Phil completed the task (watch them do it above).

Courtney and Taylor were the first to arrive at Stratford’s City Hall, a.k.a. Queen of the Square, and were surprised to see Jon Montgomery there, on the mat with Stratford’s mayor standing beside him. They were so shocked they’d left their backpacks and had to retrieve them. (Behind the curtain: we were mashed up against a wall watching Taylor and Courtney’s arrival; watch the video above.) The siblings were informed that they were the first to arrive and had won a trip for two to London. Zainab and Monica were the last to arrive but learned the Leg wasn’t over and they were still Racing.

(Behind the curtain: every team was informed, upon arrival on the mat, that the Leg was continuing to Toronto. Of course, the producers saved that reveal for the end, which added to the drama of the moment.) Look for my behind-the-scenes look at the Toronto Leg of The Amazing Race Canada next Monday.

Here’s how the teams finished this Leg of the Race:

  1. Taylor and Courtney (won a trip for two to London)
  2. Adam and Courtney
  3. Martina and Phil
  4. Dillon and Kwame
  5. Nancy and Mel
  6. Leanne and Mar
  7. Zainab and Monica (Leg continues)

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


The Amazing Race Canada: Behind the scenes in Stratford

I was exhausted by the end of Tuesday’s Leg of The Amazing Race Canada in Stratford, Ont. And I was just watching it being filmed.

Earlier this year, Bell Media graciously provided me—along with the Toronto Star‘s Debra Yeo and social media influencers Jennifer Ettinger and Evelyn Avila—with the opportunity of a lifetime: follow the filming of a Leg of The Amazing Race Canada to see how it all really works. What followed was a jam-packed day of observing this season’s teams scrambling around the Southern Ontario town participating in challenges as unique to the area as they are in Canada.

Visiting Stratford? Make sure this place is on your to-do list.

Being sequestered in a production van for an hour and stationed next to a park full of children playing perhaps wasn’t the best optics on that May day but it was necessary. It was imperative, we were told upon arriving from Toronto, that we could not be seen by any of the Racers. The producers didn’t want any kind of inkling about where they were supposed to go into town. If we’d been situated in front of the Festival Theatre, it was explained, the Racers might know they were supposed to go there. A major no-no and Race ruiner. Of course, reading the Route Info is the only guide for the Racers, not a gaggle of journalists looking pastily conspicuous.

The Amazing Race Canada producers, camera people and anyone else on the ground during production all use a specialized messaging system on their phones to communicate silently. That’s how we knew the Racers were participating in their initial challenge of the Leg and the first few pairs were departing for downtown Stratford. We were also informed many Racers were tired—they’d flown in from Jakarta the day before—and some had made a mistake upon landing in Toronto and drove east rather than west to Stratford. The devil is in the details on The Amazing Race Canada.

We made two new slobbery friends on The Amazing Race Canada.

I’d always assumed that a pair of Amazing Racers and the camera people chasing them would stick out like sore thumbs and draw attention to themselves. That wasn’t the case in Stratford. Sure, a few people gave side-eye to a quartet of sweaty folks running right by but for the most part, no one paid attention.

My adrenaline spiked trying to stay out of the way while watching pairs paddle the Avon River and duel in the Festival Theatre; I can only imagine what the Racers were feeling. After all, this was real for them. Siblings Taylor and Courtney were able to keep it cool while we observed them, as were Courtney and Adam. Anxiety exuded from Martina and Phil during the Detour in Rhéo Thompson Candies while we munched on sweet samples. (I bought a whack of treats from the family-run business and will return.) And it was the place a pair of playful and inquisitive bulldogs decided to climb into our production vehicle.

I’ll be able to reveal more details in Tuesday’s review of The Amazing Race Canada, but I had a heck of a great time watching it roll out. And it gave me great insight into the well-run production that goes into summer’s biggest TV show.

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.