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.

Shaw Media Appoints Christine Shipton to Senior Vice President, Content

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From a media release:

Shaw Media today announced that it has appointed Christine Shipton to the position of Senior Vice President, Content, Shaw Media.

In this role, Ms. Shipton will be responsible for the company’s content strategy across all platforms, as well as overseeing the creation of Canadian original productions, acquisition deals for U.S. and international series, and scheduling for the company’s conventional and specialty channels.  A key focus of the position will be to ensure that Shaw is strategically evolving its content platforms and windowing rights amidst the ever-evolving media landscape, as well as forging key strategic partnerships to support the company’s growing roster of large, international co-productions.

“Christine is a luminary in the Canadian broadcasting industry and we are so pleased that she will be leading our Content team moving forward,” said Barbara Williams, Executive Vice President, Broadcasting and President, Shaw Media. “She has been involved in the vast majority of every major Canadian production over the past 25 years and brings with her enormous credibility in the content sector in Canada and the U.S.”

Prior to this position, Ms. Shipton was Vice President of Original Content for Shaw Media, responsible for the development and commissioning of all genres of Canadian original programming for the company’s 19 specialty channels as well as Global Television. During this time, she brought a major focus to Canadian productions for both Global and the company’s specialty networks, commissioning over 700 hours of Canadian content last year alone. Under her watch, 8 of the top 10 HGTV shows were Canadian and over 70 per cent of its Canadian shows were sold into the US. In this position, Ms. Shipton also spearheaded a number of complex, international co-productions including smash hits Vikings, Rookie Blue, Haven, Copper and Beauty and the Beast.

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Interview: Canadian Sleepy Hollow creator’s strange road to success

Phillip Iscove took an unconventional road to writing for television. The Toronto native, who attended Ryerson University’s Toronto Film School while working at Bay Street Video, got a job at United Talent Artists in Los Angeles and headed for Hollywood. Once there, he worked his way up from the mail room to an assistant in the television literary department spending his off-hours at the desk of his boss.

Now he’s the co-creator of Sleepy Hollow, Fox’s rollicking fantasy series about an American Revolution soldier (Tom Mison) who has awoken in 2013 to do battle with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You’ve got a full year on Sleepy Hollow under your belt. Are you still surprised by its success?
Phillip Iscove: I continue to be flattered and surprised by how much I love it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.

You’ve had lots of success and a little luck too. You went from Ryerson grad and Bay Street Video store employee to Los Angeles where you worked for United Talent Artists and worked on scripts during your off-hours. Not the typical road to the television industry.
Many people ask me about my story, but I’m not sure a lot can be learned from it. I got incredibly lucky and the planets aligned for me in a way that I continue to pinch myself every day. The truth is that I got the job at UTA that allowed me to move out here and I sort of approached it like a graduate degree. Like, ‘I’ll work at this agency and I’ll learn the business side of things.’ I had a film degree, but like everyone else I came out here with this altruistic, ‘I’m gonna change things and they’re gonna let me do whatever I want!’ That goes away very quickly. It was just about reading scripts and building relationships with people that supported me and were happy to sit down with me. Those relationships bore fruit and I was able to get myself in front of Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

You didn’t go to the Canadian Film Centre or cut your teeth in Toronto or Vancouver. Did reading scripts and watching a lot of TV streamline your process into what makes for good television?
I think it was a mix of things. I do continue to watch a lot of TV and I try to read as many books as I can and try to be on the pulse as much as humanly possible but I think a lot of it has to do with what sells and why it sells. Being at UTA kind of changed the game for me. It’s very easy to kind of get lost in your own head a little bit: ‘I love this and this and this and everyone should love it with me.’ You have to fall in love with things that are viable as opposed to things that maybe aren’t. It’s trying to figure out making what you love palatable.

I didn’t go to the Canadian Film Centre, I didn’t go to Vancouver but I think that, strangely enough, working at Bay Street Video while going to film school really kind of allowed me understand why I loved something. It’s not enough to just love something; you have to understand why you love it.

What’s it been like working with Roberto and Alex and what do you learn from the guys behind Fringe, Hawaii Five-0 and the Star Trek movies?
The list is long. What they taught me and what they continue to teach me is how to make something palatable to a large audience and how to get lots of people to love your thing. It’s a tremendous gift that they have, the ability to make something fun, grounded and with three-dimensional characters that exist in a universe that people want to spend time in. I learn something more from them every day.

How many seasons of Sleepy Hollow did you have in your head?
I’d be lying if I said I had a number of seasons in my head. I, quite frankly, was just hoping somebody would let me write something. But once Bob and Alex and Len Wiseman and I started to work on the pilot and series documents we started to see a much bigger plan that could come into place. As it said in the pilot, and as it says in the Bible, witnesses do bear witness for seven years of tribulations. It would be great if we ran for seven seasons.

In every episode there is at least one major revelation in the plot, an ‘Oh shit!’ moment. Was it important for you to have a reveal each week?
We just want to take people on a fun ride each week. It’s about the roller coaster that we’ve created for ourselves and you want every episode to be special and like you’ve given viewers the key to an amazing journey. We approach each episode with the hopes of having that ‘Oh shit’ moment that you speak of.

Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Global.

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Review: And the Amazing Race winners are…

The only way to win the final Leg of The Amazing Race Canada is to be perfect and hope that your competitors make a mistake or falter. Best buds Mickey and Pete ran the perfect final Leg–and their competitors Meaghan and Natalie and Ryan and Rob struggled–and the boys from Muskoka, Ont., won The Amazing Race Canada.

The two fellows with the luxurious heads of hair arrived first on the mat at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall in front of host Jon Montgomery and those eliminated earlier this season, promptly pulled off their shorts and embraced. The friends, once they put their pants back on, will pocket $250,000, fly free for a year anywhere Air Canada flies worldwide in Business Class, plus two Chevrolet Silverado High Country Edition Pickup Trucks and a lifetime supply of gas courtesy of Petro Canada. Winter Olympians Meaghan and Natalie captured the silver medal while Ryan and Rob received bronze.

Rob and Ryan started the final Leg in first place after grabbing a cab upon arrival in Ottawa from New Brunswick but their cab driver headed to the wrong address and the other two teams passed them and they never made up the ground. Instead, they were forced to play catchup for the remainder of the Race. Meaghan and Natalie, meanwhile, got their inflatable kayak first but were out-raced to the water by Mickey and Pete. The boys’ knowledge of white water rafting–and the girls’ being rookies at it–meant they got ahead and never relinquished the lead. That said, things got very, very close several times and the leads could have switched at least twice.

A trip to John Diefenbaker’s Diefenbunker–a sprawling Cold War nuclear bunker outside of Ottawa–challenged teams to find miniature military models and if Natalie had been a little more diligent in her searches she would have been done first. Meaghan, meanwhile, had her own issues when her increasingly painful right hand was subjected to stress during a vertical rope climb to the top of the Canadian Museum of Nature. I was willing her to complete the task as quickly as possible, but she just couldn’t catch Mickey.

The final task–using  everyone’s memory to put together paintings of the countries the teams had visited–found all three teams in the same room and just minutes apart in completing it from one another.  Mickey and Pete appeared to arrive at Rideau Hall mere minutes before the other two teams did.

I’ve really enjoyed this second season of The Amazing Race Canada. Though I criticized producers for taking the show outside of the country, Legs to China and France (Juno Beach was a tear-jerker of a Pit Stop) enriched the show and made it an entertaining season.

The hour-long After the Race special hosted by James Duthie was a fairly lighthearted affair, revisiting key moments with all of the teams and announcing that there will indeed be a Season 3 of The Amazing Race Canada. They’re taking applications now.

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The Next Star Season 7 winner revealed

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From a media release:

Tonight, during a live telecast from Canada’s Wonderland, in front of a theatre of thousands and with 3.5 million votes cast from across the country, 15-year-old Jory Zechner from Nipigon, ON was crowned the winner of the seventh season of Canada’s longest running singing competition series, YTV’s The Next Star. After weeks of vocal and choreography challenges and mentoring from judges Dan Kanter, Tara Oram and Mark Spicoluk, Jory is taking home a prize package, which includes a $5,000 shopping spree courtesy of Sears, a recording deal with the chance to work with one of the industry’s top music producers and an Epiphone Masterbilt Acoustic guitar.

Jory’s been one of The Next Star’s biggest transformations and surprises this season. Hailing from Nipigon, ON, Jory drove 10 hours to audition and brought along her guitar to strum along to her own tunes. With her signature blue hair and trademark frames, Jory, a self-proclaimed nerd, has opened up to show a lot of sass. It’s hard to believe this small town girl with a unique, original sound once struggled with believing in herself. Now she inspires the world with her confidence.

“It’s been so exciting to have had a front row seat and a chance to contribute to the amazing progress Jory has made throughout The Next Star season,” said Dan Kanter, judge on The Next Star 7 and Musical Director and lead guitarist for Justin Bieber. “I can’t wait to watch her next steps in what is sure to be an exciting career, and look forward to continuing to participate and celebrate in her success.”

Jory, was one of the Top 6 finalists—including Kaleia (13, Edmonton, AB), Michaelah (15, Kelowna, BC), Nissita (13, Barrie, ON), Ryland (15, Deseronto, ON) and Shon (12, Surrey, BC)—who were chosen from thousands of hopefuls who auditioned across Canada. During the live finale Jory performed her new single “Up to Us.” The finale also included special performances from Shawn Mendes and Echosmith. The Next Star Season 7 album including singles from each Top 6 finalist is currently available on iTunes and the music videos can be seen on iTunes and NextStar.YTV.com.

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Super Channel Development Fund Call for Submissions

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From a media release:

Super Channel, Canada’s only national English pay-television network, is pleased to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the next round of funding through the Super Channel Development Fund.

Less than a year after its launch, the new development fund is an unqualified success. Since its November, 2013 start date, the Super Channel Development Fund has invested $1.5 million in 54 Canadian feature films, documentaries and TV series. To date, the selection process has involved 179 applications from coast to coast and three separate funding deadlines, each of which took an average of just six weeks to complete.

“We are frankly delighted to have supported such a diverse range of new and exciting film and television projects from all across Canada,” said Melissa Kajpust, Head of Creative Development for Super Channel. “We look forward to supporting many more and can’t wait to see what this next round of development funding brings.”

Super Channel’s next funding deadline is October 10, 2014, followed by a spring deadline ofMarch 27, 2015. For more information on criteria, eligibility and the selection process, please go to: http://superchannel.ca/producers.

In addition to Melissa Kajpust, the development team at Super Channel includes Julie Di Cresce, Director of Canadian Programming, Maureen Levitt, Creative Development Executive, Western Canada and the Territories, Richard Paradis, Creative Development Representative, Quebec, Carole Henson, National Liaison, in Edmonton and Development Assistant, Jane Clarke.

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