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

Principal photography wraps on anticipated season 2 of Merchants of the Wild

From a media release:

Today, Little Bear Big Wolf Pictures Producer Daniel Fortin, announced principal photography has wrapped on season two of the highly anticipated unscripted-series Merchants of the Wild. Sean Buckley of Buck Productions is on board again as Executive Producer and show mentor. After a successful inaugural season, the docu-series has officially wrapped filming in Nova Scotia and is now in post-production with an anticipated release in 2021.

Filmed within Potlotek’s Traditional Territory, (Near St Peters, NS) and some scenes in Hiawatha First Nation, ON; Merchants of the Wild is a vivid documentary series mixing culture, survival, reconnection to the land, and adventure. The show takes viewers back in time with six Indigenous adventurers, pitted against the perils of ancient waterway trade routes used by Mi’kmaq nations. Merchants of the Wild is being developed and produced by Little Bear Big Wolf Pictures for  APTN, in partnership with the Canada Media Fund.

Season two of Merchants of the Wild is one of Buck Productions’many collaboration projects of 2019 and wraps at a pivotal time for the Toronto-based production company as it prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary later this month.

Synopsis
Six Indigenous Adventurers embark on the journey of a lifetime, as they spend 25 days on the land, paddling birch bark ‘gwitn’ (canoes) through the Mi’kmaq territory, ‘Unama’ki ’ (Land of Fog), known as Cape Breton, NS. Following an old waterway trade route, moving inland from the ocean at the end of summer, the Adventurers begin their difficult journey with a few necessary tools and a limited supply of food. From day one, they will need to rely on cultural teachings and the land to reach the end of their journey.

During the course of their adventure, they will meet Mi’kmaq Elders and Knowledge Holders at various camps along the ocean, rivers, and lakes, learning culture, language, and traditional Mi’kmaq teachings to help them complete their journey. Throughout the experience, each Adventurer will be impacted in different ways, with some finding the connection their spirit has been in search of, while others could succumb to the constant demands of mother nature, the physical struggle and emotional challenges that can come with living off the land, while others discover newfound strength amongst the teachings and their new friends.

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Ken Shaw announces his retirement from CTV News Toronto

From a media release:

Veteran news anchor Ken Shaw announced this evening during CTV NEWS AT SIX that he will be retiring from the anchor chair following his final newscast on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. With a career spanning six decades – from the 1970s and into 2020 – Shaw has been a welcomed guest in millions of homes each week throughout the GTA.

Co-Anchor of Toronto’s #1 newscasts CTV NEWS AT NOON and CTV NEWS AT SIX since April 2001, Shaw first joined the CTV News Toronto team in 1979 as a breaking news reporter. He later moved to the national beat as National Editor for the station, and then as Weekday Anchor for CTV News Channel, before returning to CTV News Toronto to become its anchor.

“There have been so many changes over the decades and I’ve been privileged to have a front-row seat for all of them. I’m so thankful for the trust viewers put in our team to document the stories of their lives,” said Shaw. “Although I’m leaving the day-to-day duties of the anchor desk, I’m excited to work on a number of special projects at CTV News.”

Following Shaw’s last broadcast from the anchor desk on Jan. 6, he will assume a new role with CTV News Channel where he will provide special reports on a number of key issues of importance to him, including the environment. The reports and accompanying podcasts and digital stories will be available on CTV News properties across Canada.

A look back on highlights from Shaw’s career is now featured at CTVNewsToronto.ca. Viewers wanting to send their best wishes can also post messages to the site.

The multiple award-winning Shaw has guided Torontonians through some of the most memorable and momentous local and international news headlines, earning CTV News Toronto its distinction as the most-watched local newscast in the GTA. From coverage of the G20 Summit in 2010, the ice storm that left thousands of Torontonians without power in December 2013, the deadly Toronto van attack in April 2018, the closing of GM Oshawa in November of 2018, and countless provincial and municipal elections, to breaking key revelations in the Toronto mayoral scandal, viewers consistently turn to Ken Shaw and Co-Anchor Michelle Dubé for the headlines that matter most.

An announcement about a new co-anchor for CTV News Toronto will be made on Monday, Dec. 9.

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Food Network Canada’s Great Chocolate Showdown debuts February 4

From a media release:

Get lost in the indulgent world of chocolate with Great Chocolate Showdown, a new serialized dessert competition series that puts 10 home bakers to the test. Each week the bakers will be tasked with a range of exciting chocolate-based challenges to create sweet treats that must tantalize the taste buds of esteemed judges: television personality and best-selling cookbook author Anna Olson, award-winning British cake designer Cynthia Stroud and renowned pastry chef and chocolatier Steven Hodge. Great Chocolate Showdown makes its decadent debut February 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Following a North America-wide search, 10 home bakers have earned a ticket to the Great Chocolate Showdown, representing from coast to coast, including Los Angeles, Calif., Vancouver, B.C., Dallas, Texas, Saskatoon Sask., New York City, N.Y., Montreal, Que. and more. The 10 competitors confirmed to compete for the title of Great Chocolate Showdown champion are:

  • Trinity Andrew, 27 – Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Kathy Choffe, 49 – Aurora, Ont.
  • Casey Hallen, 32 – New York City, N.Y.
  • Andrew Keen, 37 – Falls Church, Va.
  • T Lawrence-Simon, 31 – Somerville, Mass.
  • Venessa Liang, 27 –Saskatoon, Sask.
  • Renu Matthew, 44 – Olds, Alta.
  • Fadi Odeh, 36 – Dallas, Texas
  • Katie Rochin, 21– Montreal, Que.
  • Craig Taylor, 47 – Vancouver, B.C.

Each week the talented batch of bakers will face with a range of creative and exciting chocolate-based competitions that will test their sweet imaginations and put their baking skills to the test. These challenges include everything from creating an out-of-this-world chocolate creation with a galactic mirror finish and baking an over-the-top spectacle cake, to reimagining a classic campfire treat and creating a chocolate confection with a spicy kick. Some of the bakers may melt under the pressure and only one will taste sweet victory by claiming the title of Great Chocolate Showdown champion and the $50,000 grand prize.

Purdys Chocolatier joins as the official chocolate sponsor for Great Chocolate Showdown. Throughout all eight episodes the pantry will be stocked with Purdys products crafted from sustainable cocoa. The brand is also featured in four integrated episode challenges where the competitors will use some of the most popular Purdys items to make their own ooey-gooey, yummy and chewy creations.

On foodnetwork.ca, viewers can learn more about the series and its cast and competitors, see exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, recipes and delicious how-tos with the judges after the episodes air. Fans can also watch full episodes online after broadcast at foodnetwork.ca/shows/great-chocolate-showdown.

Great Chocolate Showdown is produced by Architect Films in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada. For Architect Films, Tanya Linton and Mike Sheerin are Executive Producers and Jennifer Pratt is Supervising Producer.

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CBC’s preschool Kingdom Force embraces diversity and teamwork

Matt Fernandes has made a career out of connecting with the preschool crowd. Whether it’s the adventures of Dot, a spunky eight-year-old tech whiz, or Top Wing, about four young birds helping their community, his shows captivate and educate.

Now Fernandes has got a new project, Kingdom Force, and has the Avengers franchise to thank for it.

“I was in a toy store, and I saw this boy with his mom and he was begging her for Avengers toys and Transformers toys,” Fernandes says. “It dawned on me, ‘You know what? This boy wants these toys, but I bet you he’s never watched the movies because he’s too young. Those movies are not for him, but the toys were.'” The result? Kingdom Force.

Premiering Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC, the 26-episode first season follows five animal heroes as they protect the citizens of five unique animal kingdoms. Wolf Luka, ape Dalilah, cat Mittens, polar bear Norvyn and badger TJ are from different communities but must work together to take down baddies, sometimes as a combined robot named Alpha-Mech.

We spoke to Matt Fernandes about Kingdom Force, how it came about and what he wants kids and parents to learn when they tune in.

Where did the idea for Kingdom Force come from in the first place?

Matt Fernandes: I was in a toy store, and I saw this boy with his mom and he was begging her for Avengers toys and Transformers toys. And it dawned on me, ‘You know what? This boy wants these toys, but I bet you he’s never watched the movies and he’s too young. Those movies are not for him, but the toys were.’ I realized that there was a gap where these kids were going from, say, Paw Patrol or Bob the Builder and making this leap all the way to Avengers, which is a steep climb. I felt like there was a space in between and they were missing a hero that had all the sort of same, high stakes and thrills and spills and rough and tumble that was for them.

I’m a huge 80’s fan, so I put in some 80’s nostalgia in some of the shows. The other thing I really wanted to speak about was diversity. In the show, there are five different kingdoms that have their own history, their own culture their own way of doing things, and they’ve all sort of lived separately. Kingdom Force is a hero from each kingdom who have come together to create a hero for all kingdoms. It really is about unity, strength through unity and strength through diversity. This is sort of the main theme of the whole show and something that I wanted to attack. I combined those two needs into Kingdom Force.

Teamwork and diversity are very top of mind right now. It’s really poignant.
MF: Absolutely. Different cultures coming together to work for one goal for the good of everybody. We lean into that and that was something we really wanted to speak about and I think comes through in our show.

It certainly comes through in the first episode, even though they don’t always get along.
MF: That’s right. Not all of them are always going about a problem in the same way, and there is conflict within the team. But ultimately, there is a resolution and they learn how to work together. It’s not like everybody’s all happy-go-lucky all the time and always on the same page. We actually show a bit of that conflict. But in the end there’s this big learn that being together or taking, both of their strengths combined, they’re stronger.

Was it always the idea to have five animal heroes?
MF: It was always five, but the original designs were actually all five cats. We had a lion and a cheetah and a panther and it originally was called Big Cats. Then slowly, over time, as we developed it, we realized it would be stronger to make it, really vastly different animals and really lean into the culture of those animals and it made the diversity just a little more rich.

You’ve made a career out of working in this genre. What are some of the specific challenges that you face that may be a primetime drama doesn’t? Is education a big part of it?
MF: I would say yes, absolutely. Some shows are lean a little bit heavier on curriculum, some don’t, but, that’s something that really important that you’re giving them big sort of life lessons. Moral lessons are really important.

But the other biggest challenge is they’re a brutally honest audience. You need to grab their attention immediately or else you’ve lost them forever. But if you do get their attention, you have a fan forever. They don’t have the patience to sit through five episodes before you get into the plot, you really need to grab them right away. And that’s, it’s such a visceral response for kids.

You mentioned the 80s earlier. What were the shows that made an impact on you when you were growing up?
MF: I mean I was right in the heart of G.I. Joe, the golden era; there was sort of all lots of animé when I was a kid as well. For me that was the religion, right? Saturday morning cartoons, from six in the morning til noon, that was my day. That was my time. That’s probably had a huge influence on why I’m doing the things I’m doing now.

Kingdom Force airs Saturdays at 9 a.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Link: Vancouver ‘Vikings’ star Alexander Ludwig on the show’s ‘bittersweet’ end

From Victoria Ahearn of the Canadian Press:

Link: Vancouver ‘Vikings’ star Alexander Ludwig on the show’s ‘bittersweet’ end
“I’m so grateful for this show. It’s like the greatest thing that ever happened to me and my career. I’m so grateful to have played such a formidable character and show such an arc. That being said, it definitely took its toll.” Continue reading.

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