TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

TV, Eh? Podcast Episode 256: Holiday memories

Welcome back to another bi-weekly (ish) chat about the latest news in Canadian TV!

With the holidays coming up, and very little TV news to talk about, the podcast is taking a break until January. But before we do that, we’re celebrating the upcoming holiday season by talking about holiday programming. It doesn’t have to be Canadian, necessarily, just the things that have become a staple of our seasonal viewing.

This podcast brought to you by Waitrose Mulled Wine and egg nog.

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marblemedia and Fae Pictures partner to develop an original political drama, Salt

From a media release:

marblemedia and Fae Pictures are excited to announce they are in development on an original, primetime political family drama series Salt, from creator Abdul Malik (NBC’s Transplant, Peace by Chocolate). marblemedia acquired the project earlier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Series Accelerator program.

Salt follows a young man, Mohammad “Mo” Akram, raised by a wealthy Muslim family reeling from a scandal that’s decimated America’s working class. Seeking to make amends for his father’s sins, Mo takes a job as a ‘salt’ and must infiltrate and covertly unionize an opulent international hotel chain in Chicago from the inside, making vulnerable the workers he is seeking to protect and threatening his politically-influential family.

A “salt” is defined as a labour union tactic involving the act of getting a job at a specific workplace with the intent of organizing a union. The person employed to do so is called a “salt”. This series will both entertain and expose the resurgent labour movement currently sweeping America. Today’s modern-day labour awakening will be on full display with this underlying IP as this original series will offer authenticity in a fictional world shaped by Malik’s personal insights working within the labour movement for a decade, within the worlds of salting, organizing, and storytelling.

Recently selected for Playback Magazine’s 10 to Watch, 29-year-old prolific screenwriter Abdul Malik spent a decade on the front lines of labour and environmental movements as a documentarian while he studied film. That led to co-writing the feature film, Peace By Chocolate, which premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. He is now garnering attention as a screenwriter recently having written on NBC’s Transplant; as well as two feature films, Streams Flow from a River and Queen Tut.

“A series like this is really close to my heart. It aims to do nothing less than articulate the thrilling world of labour unions, a world I know intimately while speaking to the urgent issues and incredible uplift we’ve seen working-class people achieve over the last few years by fighting for their rights. The series explores power in all its forms, and knows the moral complexities of its world in a way that makes for rapt television,” shared Abdul Malik, series creator.

“We are thrilled to add Salt to marblemedia’s ever-expanding content slate. After meeting Abdul, hearing his story and reading his voice, we knew this was a project we needed to be a part of. The series is aligned with our mandate to share stories that are rooted in authentic voices that are bold, inspiring and have a positive impact. We are proud to develop IP about topics that provoke conversation and galvanize change, while captivating audiences who covet smart, propulsive entertainment”, says Carrie Paupst Shaughnessy, VP Scripted at marblemedia. Adding, “We are looking to attract top producing partners, international talent and a showrunner who will align with Abdul’s creative vision.”

“On our mission to decolonize Hollywood, Salt comes in as a series that shatters our expectations of a political drama featuring an affluent and influential Muslim family against the backdrop of the struggles of America’s working class,” says Shant Joshi, president of Fae Pictures.

Salt is co-produced by marblemedia and Fae Pictures. Malik is repped by META Talent Agency.

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Saloon Media acquires rights to Shaun Hamill’s debut novel A Cosmology of Monsters

From a media release:

Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Media production company, announced today it has acquired the rights to Shaun Hamill’s highly-reviewed, debut novel, A Cosmology of Monsters. The scripted and factual producer will adapt the book into an ongoing one-hour dramatic series (8×60), expanding the company’s growth into scripted development.

A Cosmology of Monsters follows the Turner family as they operate an immersive haunted house experience. While struggling to keep their business afloat, dealing with the challenges of adolescence, and fighting to keep their family united, the Turners begin to realize there is something more sinister at their door … real monsters.

Named one of the best books of 2019 by Esquire, The Nerd Daily and The New York Public Library, Shaun Hamill’s horror debut received critical acclaim with Stephen King’s endorsement: “If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it.”

Serving as Creator and Executive Producer on the series is Caitlin D. Fryers (Wynonna Earp, Endlings, Private Eyes). Fryers is best known for writing on all four seasons of SYFY’s fan favourite Wynonna Earp. She was the first Canadian to win the Sir Peter Ustinov Award for Scriptwriting from the International Emmys. Nominated for two Writers Guild of Canada Awards, Fryers has written for SYFY, Lifetime, Global, CBC, Hulu and Hallmark. Fryers is represented by Meridian Artists. Also serving as Executive Producer are Melissa Williamson and Michael Kot of Saloon Media and author, Shaun Hamill.

Shaun Hamill received his BA in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and his MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut novel, A Cosmology of Monsters, was published in 2019 and his second novel, The Dissonance is forthcoming from Pantheon books. Hamill is represented by Echo Lake on behalf of Kent Wolf of Neon Literary.

Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Media company, is a leading producer of scripted and unscripted content. Based in Toronto, Canada, Saloon Media has an international track record for delivering successful, award-winning programs.

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Aliya Jasmine and Teddy Wilson celebrate the world’s mega machines in Discovery’s The Mightiest

First, there was Mighty Ships. Then, Mighty Planes, followed by Mighty Cruise Ships and Mighty Trains. Now, there is simply The Mightiest.

Debuting on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery, the latest in the Mighty franchise takes viewers on a six-episode adventure into some of the mega-ist of mega machines around the planet. Hosted by Teddy Wilson (Mighty Trains) and environmental journalist Aliya Jasmine, each installment focuses on one main machine surrounded by smaller stories. Each segment is tied together by Aliya Jasmine and Wilson, who converse while standing in Hanger 1 at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

“It’s the latest and the greatest in the Mighty franchise,” Wilson says, on the line during a recent media day with his co-host. “They wanted to take this amazing franchise and really kick it up a notch. This series focuses on planes, trains and ships. We’re going to take viewers on some amazing and epic adventures.”

For environmental journalist Aliya Jasmine, The Mightiest offered her many tales to tell.

“So many of these stories deal with nature and some of the world’s most destructive natural forces,” Aliya Jasmine says. “We were able to fly into the eye of a hurricane and over wildfires. [We’re] not only looking at these mighty machines and the innovation in science and engineering but also the actual humans behind them. There are incredible people who put their lives at stake to operate these machines.”

The adventure begins on Wednesday with “Launch Day,” where Wilson is aboard the U.S. Navy’s newest and largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. Updated with the latest in technology—including a switch from steam to electricity to launch and land aircraft—the Gerald R. Ford is a small town on the sea, to which The Mightiest crew were given unprecedented access.

“It was a mind-blowing experience,” Wilson recalls. “It was incredibly loud, incredibly dangerous… the deck of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous places on earth. And, we had to arrive and leave the carrier via a military transport plane landing and taking off, which was one of the coolest experiences of my life.”

In addition to highlighting the USS Gerald R. Ford, Wednesday’s debut looks at the massive Airbus A-380’s first landing into a major North American hub, the re-launch of a flying telescope after being grounded for months, and final touches on a cruise ship three times bigger than the Titanic. And while Wilson says as cool as the aircraft carrier assignment was, he believes his co-star got a plum Season 1 assignment seated inside an F-18 as a member of the Blue Angels.

“The Blue Angels are the only F-18 pilots in the world that don’t wear G-suits and don’t have oxygen masks,” Aliya Jasmine says. “When you see Tom Cruise in Top Gun, he has a G-suit on that helps him stay conscious, keep his eyesight, help him breathe and not be nauseous.

“It takes them years to train, and they trained me in two minutes,” she continues with a laugh. “They did warn me that it’s not uncommon for people to pass out, momentarily go blind, pee or defecate themselves, or puke. My body has never gone through anything like that before.”

So, how did she do?

“We pulled 6Gs, broke the sound barrier, did a couple of loops and I did puke four times on camera.”

The Mightiest airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Blink49 Studios partners with Vanguarde Artists Management and Vanguarde Pictures to launch first-of-its-kind joint venture in Canada

From a media release:

Blink49 Studios, backed by FIFTH SEASON (formerly known as Endeavor Content) and Canada’s leading representation company, Vanguarde Artists Management have partnered to launch a joint venture to develop and produce content for the global market.

In a first-of-its-kind deal in Canada, the joint venture brings together Vanguarde’s access to creative talent and IP to develop and produce original projects with Blink49’s world-class studio, production and distribution infrastructure. Under the joint venture, Blink49 will also provide development funding to build a slate of projects with Vanguarde and its clients. Blink49 and Vanguarde will serve as co-producers on all projects developed and produced through the deal, with FIFTH SEASON having a first look on international distribution rights.

The announcement comes after Vanguarde recently tapped award-winning playwright and television creator/showrunner Adam Pettle as in-house Executive Producer of its newly formed content label Vanguarde Pictures. Alongside Co-Heads Tina Horwitz and Jay Horwitz, Pettle will develop scripted content for podcast, broadcast, cable, premium cable, and streaming services under the new banner.

“We’re so thrilled to be embarking on this exciting venture with Tina and Jay and the team at Vanguarde,” said John Morayniss, CEO, Blink49 Studios. “With a stellar client roster and a thoughtful, strategic and creative approach to supporting their clients, Vanguarde is the perfect partner for this joint venture that will provide development funding and studio support for a slate of projects that we will bring to a global market. And, with the launch of Vanguarde Pictures with Adam Pettle joining as an executive producer, this joint venture is set up to be prolific.”

“We are very excited to be working with John and the incredible team at Blink49 in this new venture. From our initial discussions to now, we’ve found a common cause in our approach and desire to establish and support opportunities for Canadian creative talent on a larger platform,” said Tina Horwitz and Jay Horwitz, Co-Heads of Vanguarde Artists Management. “This partnership enables us access to Blink49’s considerable studio infrastructure as well as the wealth of knowledge and global reach that John and his team bring to the table. Of course, we’ll continue to work with our key third-party producers and production company collaborators to always seek the best-aligned opportunities for our clients and their projects.”

Blink49 Studios is a content venture with FIFTH SEASON as its anchor investor and lead strategic partner. Focusing heavily on a creative-first approach, Blink49 Studios is dedicated to partnering with best-in-class writers, creators and producers, as well as actively pursuing IP in Canada and throughout the world. The indie studio is committed to applying significant resources to support new and diverse Canadian voices.

ABOUT BLINK49 STUDIOS
Co-founded in 2021 by industry veterans CEO John Morayniss, Non-Executive Vice Chair Patrice Theroux, COO Jeff Lynas and CFO Nelson Kuo-Lee, Blink49 Studios is a full-service indie studio focused on the development, production, and monetization of premium scripted and unscripted content for a global market. Headquartered in Toronto with offices in Los Angeles, Blink49 Studios was formed in partnership with its anchor investor and lead strategic partner FIFTH SEASON (formerly Endeavor Content). With a combined experience of innovative deal-making and strong relationships in the creative community, Blink49 Studios takes a content-first approach by partnering with best-in-class writers, creators, producers, and talent as well as supporting new and diverse voices.

ABOUT VANGUARDE ARTISTS MANAGEMENT
Tina Horwitz (Co-Head/Manager) founded Vanguarde in 2002 and has established a tradition among the company’s representatives including Jay Horwitz (Co-Head/Manager), Amy Stulberg (SVP/Manager), Adam Pettle (Executive Producer) and Nikki Kipp (Agent) of thoughtful, caring, and intelligent representation of Canada’s most sought-after showrunners, screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, line producers, editors, production designers, and composers. With a select roster, extensive producer and broadcaster relationships across Canada, and strategic alliances internationally, Vanguarde is uniquely positioned to build, grow, and individually shape each of their clients’ careers. The Vanguarde team prides itself on representing artists at all stages of their career from emerging to veteran and everything in between.

ABOUT FIFTH SEASON
FIFTH SEASON is a global leader in the creation, production, and distribution of feature films and premium television series. Known for producing and distributing award-winning content that engages audiences and moves culture, the studio’s film titles include the multi-Oscar-nominated THE LOST DAUGHTER from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Bay’s AMBULANCE, Destin Daniel Cretton’s JUST MERCY, the BOOK CLUB franchise, and recent Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH. The studio produces premium TV series, including the 14 Emmy-nominated Severance, See and Truth Be Told for Apple TV+, Wolf Like Me for Peacock, Life & Beth, Nine Perfect Strangers, and McCartney 3, 2, 1 for Hulu, Tokyo Vice for HBO Max, and Scenes From A Marriage for HBO. FIFTH SEASON also handles global distribution for dozens of hit series in addition to its own studio productions, including Killing Eve, The Morning Show, Normal People, and The Night Manager.

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