All posts by Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.

CBC/Radio-Canada reaffirms commitment to diversity and inclusion with new 2018-21 plan

From a media release:

CBC/Radio-Canada today unveiled its 2018-21 Diversity and Inclusion Plan. The new three-year plan sets out our strategy to better serve all Canadians by reflecting the full range of Canadian perspectives through our content, workplace culture and workforce. The Plan was launched at CBC/Radio-Canada’s Annual Public Meeting in Edmonton, where diversity and inclusion inspired this year’s conversation with Canadians on the importance of public broadcasting in today’s environment.

Building on past efforts and accomplishments, including those resulting from our previous 2015-2018 strategy, the new plan lays out the objectives for the coming years, provides workforce results for all our main business units, and details action plans by major services.

This plan also complements the Diversity and Inclusion section of the career page of our corporate website. Both convey the importance of diversity and inclusion and share the many things we’re doing to make our programming content even more relevant, foster greater inclusiveness in our workplace culture and ensure our workforce fully reflects Canada’s demographics.

About CBC/Radio-Canada
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Through our mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, we play a central role in strengthening Canadian culture. As Canada’s trusted news source, we offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on news, current affairs and world affairs. Our distinctively homegrown entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country. Deeply rooted in communities, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also deliver content in Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, as well as both official languages, through Radio Canada International (RCI). We are leading the transformation to meet the needs of Canadians in a digital world.

Diversity and inclusion fact sheet: Our progress so far
Below are highlights of some of the initiatives that have resulted from our ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in our content, workplace culture and workforce:

Content

  • CBC North has been serving Canadians across the territories and in Northern Quebec since 1958. It provides radio, television and online services to seven communities (Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Kuujjuaq) in eight Indigenous languages. In addition to offering services on CBC North, our main networks and regional stations also showcase Indigenous news, issues, and culture.
  • Our award-winning Indigenous Unit is both a resource and a catalyst for more coverage across CBC/Radio-Canada. Recently expanded to more communities, it is helping us identify, recruit and develop Indigenous talent. It’s creating programs like Unreserved on CBC Radio, a powerful one-hour platform on our national radio network for Indigenous voices. The Legends Project digitizes traditional oral stories, legends and histories of Canada’s Inuit and First Nations Peoples from communities across the country. Our CBC Indigenous and Radio-Canada’s Espaces autochthones websites are ensuring more Canadians learn more about this country’s legacy and its future.
  • Since December 2017, Radio-Canada makes it compulsory for independent producers who submit a project to present a “diversity inclusion plan” with the objective of improving diversity in all its content.
  • CBC Films (CBC Breaking Barriers Film Fund) is a narrative feature film fund that supports the production of English-language films from filmmakers and creators who bring diverse voices and stories that engage and reflect Canadians on the big and small screens. We look for projects that are written and directed by Canadian women, Indigenous persons, visible minorities, LGBTQ persons and persons with a disability.
  • For the past four years, Radio-Canada has been leading a TV industry working group aimed at increasing cultural diversity in French-language fiction. The group has implemented a series of actions such as the Auditions de la diversité, which provide performance training for actors from visible minority communities. The working group also supports coaching for young scriptwriters and tours high schools, in order to encourage diversity students to pursue careers in TV production.

Workplace culture

  • A number of internal initiatives foster greater inclusiveness in our workplace culture, including:
    • The Developing Emerging Leaders Program equips an annual cohort of 15 diverse employees with insights, tools and strategies to skillfully take their careers to the next level.
    • Employee Resource Groups (bring together employees who share common backgrounds and experiences, and provide mutual support and a greater sense of belonging, ex. women in technology and employees with physical or mental disabilities and their allies.)
    • Both CBC and Radio-Canada offer paid journalism internships to Indigenous recruits with partners such as the First Nations University of Canada, Nunavut Sivuniksavut/Algonquin College and the First Nations Education Council (FNEC). Radio-Canada also collaborates with the Kiuna Institution (the Quebec post-secondary Indigenous college) to offer an initiation to journalism for Indigenous students.
    • Our senior leaders learn about inclusive leadership and unconscious bias. That awareness fosters a culture of inclusiveness—one of our core values. Similar training is provided to other employees across the organization.

Workforce

  • While our focus is not on targets, we do still monitor to measure our performance and the impact of our initiatives.
    • The new diversity hires (Indigenous Peoples, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities) result for Q1 2018-2019 of 27.2% exceeded our target of 25.4%. This is our best first quarter result since we started measuring this index in 2015-2016.
    • We are the gender parity leader in the Canadian media industry with 48.9% women employed across CBC/Radio-Canada (+6.1% above the external labour force).
    • We reached our Strategy 2020 goal of 2.1% for Indigenous representation, meeting the external labour force availability and the hiring rate of 3.1% surpassed this goal between April 2017 and March 2018.
    • Between April 2015 and 2018, we saw over 40% increases for both the number of members of visible minorities and persons with disabilities.
  • With a view to increasing the diversity of its News staff, Radio-Canada revamped its hiring process for journalists at the network and regional levels over the last year, and we have removed potential obstacles for diverse candidates in our general knowledge and language proficiency exams.
  • The candidates for the first-ever paid CBC Placements for Persons With Disabilities started in mid-September 2018 and a national launch is being considered if deemed successful.
  • We are the first Canadian media company to add gender and sexual diversity (i.e., LGBTQ+) to its voluntary workforce tracking metrics.
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TV Eh B Cs podcast 85 — Documenting real life with Geoff Morrison

Geoff Morrison is a Toronto-based producer, writer and director, and founder of Big Cedar Films. Working across platforms in fiction, documentary and interactive media, Geoff’s work has screened at festivals and venues around the world including the Berlinale, TIFF, SXSW, BAFICI, Hot Docs, and the MoMA in New York. Recent projects include the CBC doc series, Farm Crime and Brand Canada, and hour-long mystery doc, The Missing Tourist. Past projects include the Banff Award-winning doc, Northwords, and Genie and Gemini Award-winning multi-platform doc series, The National Parks Project.

Listen or download below, or subscribe via iTunes or any other podcast catcher with the TV, eh? podcast feed.

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CBC announces the 12 Canadian kids vying for the title of Canada’s Smartest Person Junior

From a media release:

CBC today announced the 12 remarkable Canadian kids who will compete on CANADA’S SMARTEST PERSON JUNIOR, premiering Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC, the CBC TV streaming app and cbc.ca/watch. Over the course of six episodes, the competition will determine which incredible young Canadian will be crowned as the first ever Canada’s Smartest Person Junior. Like Canada’s Smartest Person, the junior format is inspired by The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Over six weeks, 12 Canadian kids aged 9–12 will showcase their smarts in fun and innovative challenges across six categories: physical, musical, social, linguistic, logical and visual. The new CBC competition series is hosted by two-time Canadian Screen Award Winner Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Kim’s Convenience).

In a twist on the original format, audiences will see the same competitors week-to-week. Those with the strongest performances each week will advance to the next episode, while the others will be up for elimination. In the season finale, the top six finalists will go head-to-head one final time. The competition will culminate in a heart-stopping showdown between the top two combatants in the world’s most intense intelligence obstacle course, the Super Gauntlet. The young competitors are:

● Alexia Sabau, 12, from Calgary, Alberta
● Arjun Ram, 12, from Hamilton, Ontario
● Ashley Taylor, 11, from Guelph, Ontario
● Danica Scully, 11, from Halifax, Nova Scotia
● Liam Henderson, 10, from Sarnia, Ontario
● Liam Veale, 12, from Saint John, New Brunswick
● Mateus Soto, 11, from Toronto, Ontario
● Matthew Shimon, 12, from Sydney, Nova Scotia
● Matthew Yu, 10, from West Vancouver, B.C.
● Misuzu Tamaki, 11, from Markham, Ontario
● Sandra Nitchi, 11, from Montreal, Quebec
● Zoe Devalia, 11, from Scarborough, Ontario

CANADA’S SMARTEST PERSON JUNIOR is produced by Media Headquarters in association with CBC. The series executive producer and creator is Robert Cohen. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Programming; Jennifer Dettman is Executive Director, Unscripted Content; and Susan Taylor is Executive in Charge of Production. Media Headquarters, now part of Kew Media Group, retains the international rights. The format has sold in 12 territories worldwide including France, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Argentina.

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Murdoch Mysteries: Showrunner Peter Mitchell talks “Murdoch Mystery Mansion”

Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched Episode 1 of Season 12, “Murdoch Mystery Mansion.”

It’s been a long, hot summer here in Southern Ontario. Thankfully, the cooler air has arrived and with it the super-cool season première of Murdoch Mysteries. There was a lot to like about “Murdoch Mystery Mansion.” In particular, I enjoyed little things like William not being sure where to hang his hat upon coming home to a jam-packed house, Miss Hart’s unhappiness at Julia still being in charge of the morgue and Sophie McShera’s guest-starring role. I also liked the bigger story steps, including Higgins and Ruth’s upcoming nuptials.

Thanks to showrunner Peter Mitchell for taking time out of his busy day to discuss Monday’s episode as well as a look forward to future weeks. And, he gave me an answer to the question, “Is there a holiday movie this year?” This season, in addition to speaking with members of the Murdoch writing team, I’ll be chatting with members of the cast and crew too. I’m looking forward to bringing you exciting behind-the-scenes insight into our favourite show.

Congratulations on Season 12. You joined during Season 5 of Murdoch Mysteries; has the ride been a fun one?
Peter Mitchell: I think that would be an understatement. It’s been a pretty fun ride.

Not only did you have Frank Lloyd Wright in the first episode but also quite the gory death with a room dripping with body parts. Great job!
PM: Thanks! We also threw in a bit of the Me Too Movement in there and a little bit of Tinder. It’s got a couple of historical characters in there, allusions to the future and a nice, fun little mystery. I liked having the actress from Downton Abbey on, and I thought the actor who played Frank Lloyd Wright was true to what I could learn of him.

Aaron Poole was very good as Frank Lloyd Wright.
PM: It was surprising. I had to keep going back to Frank Lloyd Wright houses circa 1905 because they are so modern. The Murdoch’s house would fit into today’s world. [The set] is based on existing Frank Lloyd Wright houses of the period. It was [almost] completely accurate.

The set design was beautiful.
PM: The exterior was a house that was built along the same lines as a Frank Lloyd Wright house even though Mr. Wright never actually built a house in Canada. He certainly built a bunch in upstate New York and places like that. The exterior was a pretty good match to a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright houses that I researched. And Bob Sher and the art department did a great job with the interior. We added a few Murdoch gizmos, like the potato cooking room and the retractable bed just for fun.

How did the casting of Sophie McShera from Downton Abbey happen? Is that a deal with the UK?
PM: It’s not so much a deal as much as we try to endeavour for the last few years to open up the season with somebody recognizable to our UK audience. They submit a list of people they would like to see on the show and we pursue them. Anybody from Downton Abbey is on the list. The UK broadcaster knows their market and if they’re not from Downton Abbey they’ll probably be from EastEnders.

Gary Harvey directed this episode. Not only has he directed a lot of episodes of Murdoch Mysteries, but you’ve been friends with him for years. What does he bring to the table as a director?
PM: I’ve known Gary for most of my professional life. He has a fairly comprehensive understanding of what I like to see in a show. He’s very good with story and usually captures all of the moments. We can communicate with very few words. He generally knows what I’m hoping to get, even if it’s a sly allusion to Tinder, he knows what matters in the scene and hopefully what matters in the story. He has the experience to get eight out of 10 things with the amount of time we have to shoot.

You already have that shorthand.
PM: Of course. He’s a very efficient director and the actors like him and trust him. The crew likes him and he gets the job done in the time we give him to do it. I don’t have to spend much time on set when Gary is shooting unless I want to go down and make fun of him. [Laughs.] So I’m down there quite a lot. [Laughs.]

We saw William and Julia in a very good place in Episode 1. Lots of loving looks and humour. Will that last for a while?
PM: Oh yeah, I think so. We’ve dialled down on the soap elements a little bit this year. We do a little more work with cases. Julia has yet another new job. We have a few episodes that highlight our secondary characters a little bit more strongly maybe, than in the past. A couple of episodes in a row feature Brackenreid in a very big way. An episode that features Watts in a big way.

Watts is great and has been getting a lot of screen time. Should I be reading into that?
PM: I don’t think so. He’s got a considerable amount of talent so it’s a shame not to use him when we can. Higgins has got more airtime this year too.

I just got ‘My Big Fat Mimico Wedding’ in my Inbox. Episode 3 for the wedding. You’re not stretching it out all season?
PM: That’s right. The Newsomes are in full bloom. The wedding: will they or won’t they? And who dies? [Laughs.] It’s a nice, fun comedy.

What can you say about Miss Hart and her plans for taking over the morgue?
PM: She may get what she wants. And I think it’s nice to have a character who is not a true villain, but a bit flinty. It keeps our other characters on their toes and she has ambitions of her own. She’s maybe not as much of a team player as the rest of them.

Is there going to be a holiday movie?
PM: There isn’t going to be a holiday movie this year but there is going to be an out-of-the-box Halloween episode. It’s certainly a standalone episode. And it is probably unlike any Murdoch you’ve seen.

What did you think of Monday’s season return? Have you got questions for Peter Mitchell or anyone else on the cast and crew? Let me know in the comments below and I will ask them in the coming weeks.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Preview: Frankie Drake Mysteries returns with a change in tone in Season 2

There are changes afoot in Season 2 of Frankie Drake Mysteries both behind and in front of the camera. As its production company, Shaftesbury, and CBC announced earlier this year, James Hurst took over showrunning duties from Cal Coons. Co-creator Michelle Ricci, meanwhile, has moved on pen Hallmark’s Hallie Dean Mystery movies starring Kellie Martin.

Fans will notice changes in front of the camera. As Hurst told me recently, a shift in tone has taken place for the series’ sophomore season. Serious themes will still be addressed, he says, but there will be less heavy storytelling.

Here’s what the CBC has released as an official synopsis for “The Old Switcheroo,” written by co-creator Carol Hay and directed by Ruba Nadda:

In the Season 2 premiere, Frankie (Lauren Lee Smith) learns that her mother Nora (Wendy Crewson) has joined the board of the Royal Ontario Museum, promising to bring an influx of treasures to the museum’s fledgling antiquities collection. Frankie and Trudy (Chantel Riley) investigate a break-in but find nothing’s been stolen. Meanwhile, Flo (Sharron Matthews) and Mary (Rebecca Liddiard) are embroiled in a mystery of their own after discovering a body in the morgue has been intentionally misidentified. 

And here are more observations from me after watching a screener.

Is Nora going legit?
After a lifetime on one side of the law, can Nora exist on the other? It would seem that’s her goal. Though, her promise to bring more treasures to the ROM had me wondering how she’d get them while staying above board. Speaking of the ROM, it’s a stunning backdrop in Monday’s return.

An X Company star drops by
Yes, I still miss Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern’s excellent Second World War drama terribly. The hurt was tempered a bit by getting to see Lara Jean Chorostecki back on my screen. She portrays Marian Hartley, a woman whose past is tied to Frankie’s. As with Murdoch Mysteries, Frankie Drake often drops historical references into its fictional tales. Tonight we hear about Howard Carter and Hiram Bingham III. Learn a little more about them here and here.

Flo and Mary take on their own case
These characters are great together. They’re both quirky and unintentionally funny, a winning combination in my book. Seeing Mary struggle to say a certain French dish and the pair teaming to identify the body in the morgue is a real treat. See if you agree.

An adversary for Frankie is unearthed
I’ve been waiting for someone to seriously challenge Frankie since Episode 1 of Season 1. It arrives Monday in the form of Dark Matter‘s Anthony Lemke. He plays Detective Greyson, a veteran cop who gets under everyone’s skin. Also? Slasher‘s Steve Byers drops in to play Hiram Bingham III.

Frankie Drake Mysteries airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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