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.

Marblemedia gets into bed with Ashley Madison


From a media release:

Continuing the expansion of its primetime scripted development slate, award-winning content creator marblemedia (The Dating Guy) has announced a deal with production company OutEast Entertainment (Rogue, The Cover) to develop a scripted drama series based on the premium brand Ashley Madison.

The development deal will see both companies create a character-driven drama loosely based on the online dating site. The series is to be executive produced by Matt Hornburg, Mark Bishop,Steven Marrs, Alex Hertzberg and Noel Biderman, the CEO and Founder of Ashley Madison.

marblemedia and OutEast Entertainment are currently in pursuit of both Canadian and American writers for the project and will take the series to the marketplace as a script-to-series deal.

“Ashley Madison is a brand that offers a built-in and non-traditional audience that attracts international intrigue,” said Matt Hornburg, Co-CEO and Executive Producer, marblemedia. “Tapping into new audiences and discovering unique, complex worlds such as Ashley Madison allows us the opportunity to challenge audiences about taboo topics such as infidelity in a sophisticated and thought-provoking way.”

“Just the name Ashley Madison conjures up thrilling images and a fascinating dialogue that we know will make for an incredible dramatic series,” said Steven Marrs, President & Managing Partner of OutEast Entertainment. “We’re truly ecstatic about the opportunity to work with marblemedia as we bring Ashley Madison to life in many unexpected ways.”

“This new series is a great opportunity to challenge the traditional idea of monogamy, with the insights we’ve gained from analyzing the interactions between our more than 29 million members from around the world,” says Noel Biderman, CEO and Founder, Ashley Madison. ”We’ve become a cultural touchstone, routinely featured on major network news and referenced on hit TV shows, so having a TV series based on our business is a natural next step for us. We’re excited about this opportunity and I, personally, am looking forward to seeing our story told in this way.”

Launched in 2001 and currently hosting more than 29 million members in 41 countries, Ashley Madison has become one of the most recognized brands in the online dating space through its originating of the married dating vertical, targeting both men and women looking to have discreet affairs.


CBC hits TIFF in grand style

Kudos to the folks over at the CBC for taking a crucial first step in the network’s reinvention by using the Toronto International Film Festival as a backdrop to let folks know about the upcoming television season and the brand overall.

Canada’s public broadcaster staked out the corner of King St. West and Blue Jays Way this past weekend, turning what used to be a condominium sales office into a welcome centre called Canada House stocked with snacks, virgin Caesars, phone recharging stations and cardboard fans emblazoned with the iconic network logo and the Twitter message “#FallForCBC.” The stars of CBC’s radio and TV shows rolled through as well, meeting fans, posing for pictures and promoting their projects all weekend long.

The network even had a cool little set-up where those featured folks held press conferences in front of groups of about 50 or so fans at a time. I sat in on the panel for Canada’s Smartest Person, and hosts Jessi Cruickshank and Jeff Douglas described how the interactive program will not only showcase the linguistic, physical, musical, visual, social and logical skills of selected finalists from across the country, but an app will challenge viewers at home.


I also got the chance to interview Dragons’ Den David Chilton and newest panelist Michael Wekerle for an online bit for TV-Eh (I’ll post that when it’s all been edited) and the pair swear the show’s upcoming Season 9 is deserving of your investment of time. Also appearing over the weekend were the stars of Mr. D, Murdoch Mysteries‘ Jonny Harris, Adam Beach, the folks behind The Book of Negroes–which has been adapted into a miniseriesand that Mamma Yamma thing.

The CBC knows it has some catching up to do with regard to connecting with newer and younger viewers. No longer able to sit back and allow NHL hockey to draw in numbers, they’re experimenting with content very unlike CBC. Dark western drama Strange Empire has got great buzz (the rough poster I was shown has a Deadwood feel), co-production sci-fi offering Ascension is definitely not typical CBC fare and historical drama Camp X promises to be thrilling.

Sure the network acknowledges this is somewhat of a rebuilding year, but there was a palpable optimism on Saturday that they are moving in the right direction with content and, even more importantly, connecting with an audience.


Tiny Talent Time dances back onto television

For 35 years, Tiny Talent Time shone a spotlight on kids who could sing, dance, juggle and play instruments. There was no cash prize for being the best, no panel of judges looking down their noses and sniffing in disdain, no voting someone off the stage. It was a gentler time, and one CHCH is getting back into this weekend.

Yes, Tiny Talent Time returns to CHCH on Saturday with the first of 12 new half-hour episodes (a second season has just been announced). And while the brand has been updated from the original that ran from 1957 to 1992–a stunning 35 years–the message remains the same: have fun without any judgment. The idea for bringing back the series–the original was hosted by CHCH legend Bill Lawrence–came up during planning for the channel’s 60th anniversary happening this year.

“One of the things they said was to bring back Tiny Talent Time,” remembers producer Jennifer Howe (Descending). “I think this is a very good homage to the past with a new, modern take on it.” Producers went with two hosts for this incarnation (“I joke to Bill that it took two people to replace him,” Howe laughs.) in Jason Agnew (Splatalot) and Jaclyn Colville (Morning Live), which affords them the opportunity to bounce things off each other while interacting with the kids. The set has been updated, social media implemented and a website boasting a Wish Wall, an online update to a Lawrence mainstay.

“Bill always said, ‘If I could snap my fingers and make a wish come true for you, what would it be?’ and not everyone was able to reveal their wish because they weren’t on the show,” Howe explains. “Now kids can go and upload their wishes and can see each other’s wishes and interact.” Each half-hour instalment spotlights five on-air acts–beginning with Saturday’s “An Amazing Premiere”–and an interview with a child whose performance can only be seen by visiting the Tiny Talent Time website.  Howe reveals over 500 kids auditioned to appear on the program from across Southern Ontario.

“There were a lot of viewers of the old show, a lot of people who had been on the old show and wanted their grandkids to be on, or their nieces and nephews,” she says. “That seemed to be the big connection for people auditioning.”

Tiny Talent Time airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. ET on CHCH.


Comments and queries for the week of Sept. 5

I have DirecTV and I like the show Heartland, which I see on UP on channel 338. The series plays on Wednesday nights and every day at 4 p.m. I see on the computer that Heartland is on CBC in Canada for next season starting on Sept. 22, and I wonder what channel I would get this on in Michigan? Thanks in advance. —Paulla

Great question Paulla, and one that I had to do a little bit of legwork on. The short answer is, yes you may be able to watch your beloved Heartland on CBC when it returns. First thing though: the actual date is Sunday, Sept. 28. The second thing? Only certain areas of Michigan–those generally close to the Canadian border–offer CBC as part of their cable lineup. Contact your cable company directly to see if you are one of those lucky people.

My mom is 87, and I am 50 and on disability. We had someone rip apart our tub and shower and he’s still not done. He started the job in the beginning of July of 2014. We have nothing in writing and haven’t paid him. Please help us so we can bathe.–Natalie

Yikes! Sounds like you need Mike Holmes to come to your rescue. You’re in luck, because his production company is currently looking for homeowners in Southern Ontario to be featured on Holmes Makes It Right. Head over to their website and good luck!


Cottage Life rejuvenates old resorts with culinary and design INN-vasion

Rebecca Wise is a wedding, event and party planner and stylist with over 10 years of experience under her belt. That background serves her well in Dining INNvasion, Cottage Life’s newest series that aims to update 14 stodgy inns and resorts in Canada.

While Splendido head chef Victor Barry heads to the kitchen to help chefs update their dusty menus, Wise is tasked with freshening dining rooms with a serious case of the drabs. Cottage country has become a hot television genre thanks to series like Colin & Justin’s Cabin Pressure and My Retreat, and Wise knows why.

“In terms of a market, I think it’s just being discovered,” Wise says. “People, whether they own a cottage or not, love to watch programs about cottages.” Friday’s first episode–at Pow Wow Point Lodge in Huntsville, Ont.–spotlights the challenges faced by Wise, who is presented with a large dining room devoid of any eye-catching items or style that embraces the beauty of the area. She takes care of that in a hurry by heading outside to gather rocks and driftwood she uses as table centrepieces accented with candles to bring warmth and intimacy to the dining hall. The update took minimal effort and next to no cash, but the payoff was huge.

“My challenge is to make sure that whatever I did to the resort not only spoke to the resort–I didn’t want to go in and paint walls purple because that doesn’t make sense–but so that the clientele would like it and the resort owners would like it too,” she says. Wise is quick to add that Dining INNvasion isn’t like other programs that go in and change things to what the designer and chef want; too much change could affect the resort owner’s bottom line because of lost customers.

“One of my favourite episodes is one where I go and pick up a vintage bicycle from an antique place and I paint it bright yellow and we’re redoing the dining room in this yellow palette because we’re doing a brunch,” Wise recalls. “It’s not really about the budget and money. It’s about the people and the stories and why they need our help.”

Dining INNvasion airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Cottage Life.