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

Introducing the 2018 CFC Bell Media Prime Time TV writers

From a media release:

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is delighted to announce the six new residents who will be joining the 2018 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program, presented in association with ABC Signature Studios, beginning Monday, September 24.

The program has attracted some of Canada’s best showrunners to lead the story room as its Executive Producer in Residence, including Dennis Heaton, Avrum Jacobson, Michael MacLennan, Graeme Manson, Karen Walton and Brad Wright. It helped develop smash-hit Emmy Award-winning series Orphan Black and most recently, the critically acclaimed series Travelers, which premieres its third season this fall.

This year’s residents are especially fortunate to work with in-demand CFC alumna and writer-producer, Alexandra Zarowny. Her work spans Degrassi: The Next Generation to Wynonna EarpMurdoch Mysteries to Bellevue and Private Eyes. Zarowny is ready to come full circle: “It cannot be understated, the enormous impact that the Bell Media Prime Time TV Program had in my own creative awakening as a television writer and content creator. The tools and insight gleaned from my training at the CFC still firmly clasped in hand, along with 15 years of career experience, will now be passed on to a stunningly talented team of young writers who are, I’m sure, thrilled to begin this journey, but who also have no idea just how significantly their lives are about to take a sharp turn into unimaginable adventures. Buckle up, everyone! There be a new group of writers coming down the CFC pipeline. As much as this program will change their lives, there’s no doubt in my mind that these new voices emerging in the television landscape will change yours as well.”

This year’s six writers have credits in film, television, theatre, music videos, branded content digital projects, along with an exciting range of professional and life experience.

Meet the Bell Media Prime Time TV Residents:

  • Sophia Fabiilli is an award winning playwright, writer, actor and producer. Her play, The Philanderess, won the 2015 Second City Award for Best New Comedy and her co-created comedy-horror web series,Fatal Murder, is in development with Shaftesbury. Read full bio here.
  • Jessica Meya is a writer, community leader and co-founder of Working the Scene in Colour, a diversity initiative organizing live reads of original scenes written by writers of colour. Meya is a 2018 recipient of the Breakthrough Artist Award at The Toronto Screenwriting Conference. Read full bio here.
  • Michael Rinaldi is an actor and writer for theatre, television and film. His play, Toothpaste and Cigars (co-written with TJ Dawe), was adapted as Michael Dowse’s 2013 feature film, The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan and Adam Driver. Read full bio here.
  • Mackenzie Sinclair, originally from Edmonton, is a 2017 Toronto Screenwriting Conference’s Magee TV Diverse Screenwriters Award recipient, where he developed his half-hour dramedy series, Snowflake, under the mentorship of writer/director Pat Mills. Read full bio here.
  • Veronika Paz is an actor, playwright, director and television writer. She studied sketch writing at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade, trained as a performer at Pro Actor’s Lab in Toronto and Barrow Group Theatre in New York, and is a 2018 recipient of the Toronto Screenwriting Conference’s Al Magee Diverse Screenwriters Award. Read full bio here.
  • Heather Taylor is a writer, director and co-founder of the creative studio, Cereal Made, in New York, with writing credits that include: the feature The Last Thakur; the sci-fi web series Raptured, currently in development as a TV series; and the award-winning short Stitched. Read full bio here.

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Preview: The Nature of Things opens its new season with “Equus — Story of the Horse”

In 2015, director and anthropologist Niobe Thompson debuted “The Great Human Odyssey” as part of The Nature of Things. It won several awards, all deserved. Now Thompson is back with a new, and expansive, look at the life of an animal that has a close relationship with humans: the horse.

The three-part “Equus — Story of the Horse,” kicking off The Nature of Things’ new season on Sunday at 7 p.m.,  is an ambitious, masterful exploration into the animals through visits to 11 countries, three continents and trips back in time to delve deep into the human-horse relationship.

“No other animal has done more for us,” Thompson says in press materials for the program. “We built the world around us with horsepower. But what is it that makes humans and horses so perfect for each other? And how have we transformed the wild horse we tamed 6,000 years ago into over 400 specialized breeds today?”

Much of Episode 1, “Origins,” does exactly that, with Thompson tracing back to the beginning of this proud, muscular beasts’ entrance to the world. He begins his journey in Saudi Arabia and the Bedouin people, who live on horseback and regard them as members of the family. His two-day experience into the desert is astride the Arab horse, a breed hardy, spirited, quick and able to handle the harsh climate thanks to some unique physical details. The Arab is one of the world’s oldest breeds, but it’s not the oldest.

That recognition is bestowed upon the 45 million-year-old Dawn Horse, a creature that led to modern horses. Tiny, forest roaming, vulnerable to predators, and a fruit eater, fossils of Dawn Horse are brought to stunning (and a humorous) life by evolutionary biologist Martin Fischer and Thompson’s team of 3-D animators. The changing of the planet from a greenhouse world to more temperate place meant the introduction of grasses and shrinking of the places a petite, chubby mammal could hide. So Dawn Horse ran and evolved into the tall, fit animal we recognize today.

With stunning visuals (the slow motion is simply amazing) and Darren Fung’s soundtrack, “Equus — Story of the Horse,” is a gem to behold and will likely garner more awards for Thompson. Future episodes of “Equus — Story of the Horse,” continue with “First Riders,” on Sept. 30 and “Chasing the Wind,” on Oct. 7.

The Nature of Things, “Equus — Story of the Horse,” airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of Handful of Films.

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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries takes a Wright turn into Season 12

It’s been a long summer, hasn’t it Murdoch Mysteries fans? Those months between new seasons of the show seem to get more drawn-out with every passing year. But let’s forget about the days gone by and focus on the journey ahead: 18 shiny new episodes to enjoy.

When we last left Julia and William, they’d reconciled after Julia miscarried and the pair briefly separated. Meanwhile, Crabtree and Nina are kaput, perhaps forever, after she left for Paris and he stayed behind.

Season 12 kicks off with “Murdoch Mystery Mansion,” written by showrunner Peter Mitchell and directed by Gary Harvey. Here’s what the CBC has revealed as the official synopsis for the episode.

Det. Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) and Dr. Ogden (Hélène Joy) have rebuilt their life after Ogden’s recent miscarriage by building a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (Aaron Poole), a Chicago architect with a burgeoning reputation. However, the house is rocked by an explosion in Murdoch’s specially designed potato-cooking room that claims a man’s life.

And here are a few more tidbits I gleaned after watching a screener.

What? New show credits and theme music?!
After 12 seasons, there’s a major shakeup with the opening credits and … KIDDING. It wouldn’t be Murdoch Mysteries without Robert Carli’s iconic theme and those oh-so-steampunk credits.

Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera checks in…
I must admit, it’s a bit strange to see the actress I’ll always think of as Daisy from Downton Abbey walking around William Murdoch’s world. Here she plays Ann Ryand, which several eagle-eyed fans have suggested might be a nod to author Ayn Rand via wordplay.

…And so does Aaron Poole
No stranger to the CBC—Poole played Captain John Slotter in the cancelled-too-soon Strange Empire—he’s most recently appeared in the horror flick The Void, drama feature The Definites and sci-fi series Salvation. He’s great as the brilliant architect who has built William and Julia’s first home. And there is a very funny catch to owning Wright’s first-ever house in the Toronto area. (A hearty “Hurrah” to the set designers, props department, builders and other crew who made the interior of the home look so realistic.)

Julia and William are in a wonderful place
Those hoping our favourite couple are happy will be thrilled to find that’s certainly the case as “Murdoch Murder Mansion” begins. But then, well, murder.

Higgins and Ruth are still going strong
One of the most entertaining couples in primetime television is hurtling towards their wedding day. That means major events as precursors … and the opportunity to learn more about these two characters.

Miss Hart is perturbed
She may have big plans when it comes to running the morgue, but Inspector Brackenreid has other ideas.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Ryan Tedder, Sarah McLachlan, and Arkells’ Max Kerman confirmed as initial celebrity mentors for Season 2 of CTV’s The Launch

From a media release:

Days before production kicks off on the highly anticipated second season of its hit original series THE LAUNCH, CTV announced today the first wave of celebrity mentors on deck to guide this season’s round of hand-picked emerging artists vying for an opportunity to create a new hit single. Recording superstar Ryan Tedder, the creative force behind THE LAUNCH Season 1 certified platinum hit single “Ain’t Easy”, returns to the series in a dual role as celebrity mentor and producer, along with Grammy® Award-winning singer/songwriterSarah McLachlan and Max Kerman, the 4x JUNO-Award winning frontman for Hamilton rock band Arkells.

THE LAUNCH also announced today that Québec pop icon Marie-Mai (STAR ACADÉMIE, LA VOIX) joins the series’ as a permanent mentor on the weekly celebrity panel alongside music industry powerhouse Scott Borchetta. In addition, fan favourite entertainment reporter Liz Trinnear (ETALK) joins the show in a new hosting role. THE LAUNCH begins production on its second season Sept. 26 in Toronto. Audience tickets are now available; see details below.

THE LAUNCH heads into production for Season 2 on the heels of a breakthrough inaugural season that garnered an exclusive worldwide distribution deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT). In addition, the series delivered a series of consecutive #1 hit songs amassing more than 21 million streams internationally to date, including certified platinum “Ain’t Easy” by Season 1 chosen artists Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine. The pop/hip-hop duo won the iHeartRadio MMVA for Best New Canadian Artist in August, and recently dropped their latest single “Better Off.”

As announced earlier this year, each super-sized episode of THE LAUNCH will now feature reduced commercial time, delivering even more music and extended insight into featured artists’ auditions, and the process of recording, performing, and launching a new hit song. Each hour-long episode provides custom advertising opportunities including 30-second “superpods.” Featuring one advertiser per break, the custom creative offers a more seamless and engaging viewer experience between the commercial content and the program.

Following its hit inaugural season, THE LAUNCH vetted thousands of emerging performers for Season 2 following a coast-to-coast-to-coast casting call this past May. More celebrity mentors, songwriters/producers, as well as the artists selected to perform on Season 2 of THE LAUNCH, will be announced soon.

In each stand-alone episode of THE LAUNCH, unsigned aspiring artists audition for the opportunity to learn, record, and perform their version of a new original song by a world famous songwriter/producer. The artists are mentored by a panel of internationally renowned music industry legends alongside Borchetta, who then decide which version of the song will be released across the country immediately following the broadcast of the episode each week. THE LAUNCH is set to premiere on CTV and VRAK in early 2019.

Marie-Mai is the undisputed Queen of pop in Québec. As a supremely talented singer-songwriter, Marie-Mai dominated the Québec live music scene for more than 15 years, with more than two million spectators flocking to her successful live shows. Her four platinum albums, 17 #1 hits, 10 Félix Awards (the highest honour in Québec music – including five for Female Artist of the Year), have solidified her status as a force in the music industry. As a successful songwriter in both French and English, Marie-Mai has won seven awards from SOCAN and was honored as Songwriter of the Year in 2014. Marie-Mai was a featured performer at the Closing Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Building on her success, she took on a coaching role on the Québec version of THE VOICE (LA VOIX) and THE VOICE KIDS (LA VOIX KIDS). Marie-Mai is set to release her sixth French album on November 9, 2018. Her first single “Empire” shattered records on the Québec music charts and her most recent second single “Je décolle”, was released last week.

Liz Trinnear is a well-known face to music and entertainment lovers in Canada, who built her career connecting with audiences and artists in a genuine and authentic manner while in the role as reporter for ETALK, Canada’s most-watched entertainment news program (2015-18), and previously on the front lines of MUCH programming for nine years. Hailing from London, Ontario, Trinnear was voted “most likely to be a MuchMusic VJ” in high school and in 2009, beat out 4,000 candidates to hand herself a job at the legendary music station. The former co-host of THE MUCH MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS (2012-14) has also interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Lady Gaga, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Harry Styles, and Justin Timberlake.

Scott Borchetta is Founder, President and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, the #1 independent record label in the world and home to superstars such as Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, and Thomas Rhett. Borchetta has led the charge on more than 50 million albums sold by Big Machine artists in addition to sending over 200 singles to #1 on the Country, Pop, and Rock charts. His groundbreaking business savvy, Borchetta has been included on Billboard’s Power 100 list and Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. During the final two seasons of AMERICAN IDOL, Borchetta served as in-house mentor and guided contestants throughout the competition as well as signing the winners to record deals.

THE LAUNCH Live Studio Audience!

CTV is giving viewers in the Greater Toronto Area an opportunity to experience the excitement first-hand by attending a taping of THE LAUNCH. The studio is located in downtown Toronto and those interested in tickets can go to CTV.ca/TheLaunch for more information. All audience members must be at least 11 years of age and an adult must accompany those under the age of 16.

  • Sept. 28: Max Kerman
    Fans in attendance will have an opportunity to meet Season 1 chosen artists Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, who will be on set to greet fans.
  • Oct. 7: Sarah McLachlan
  • Oct. 12: Ryan Tedder

**Additional celebrity mentors and in-studio live taping dates will be announced soon.

THE LAUNCH format was put into development in January 2016 and was co-developed by Randy Lennox and Bell Media in association with Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Label Group, and Paul Franklin of Eureka (MASTERCHEF, THE BIGGEST LOSER), in partnership with John Brunton and Lindsay Cox of Insight Productions (THE AMAZING RACE CANADA, CANADIAN IDOL, THE JUNO AWARDS).

THE LAUNCH is executive produced by Randy Lennox, Scott Borchetta, and John Brunton; Lindsay Cox and Paul Franklin are 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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Link: Aaron Ashmore talks Johnny’s journey and future on Killjoys

From Heather M. of TV Goodness:

Link: Aaron Ashmore talks Johnny’s journey and future on Killjoys
Johnny has been through quite the wringer in his four seasons on Killjoys, which has its season finale this Friday. In this last instalment from my on-set interviews in March, I sat down with Aaron Ashmore to chat about the road so far, and what he hopes is ahead for his character. Continue reading.

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