Everything about Children’s Programming, eh?

marblemedia starts production on two new family sitcoms, The Parker Andersons and Amelia Parker 

From a media release:

Award-winning media production and distribution company, marblemedia, in association with award-winning creator Beachwood Canyon Productions, announces today production is set to begin later this month in Toronto on series, The Parker Andersons and Amelia Parker (20 eps x 30 mins), two brand-new scripted family single-camera sitcoms that follows the life of one bi-racial family, blended by marriage.

In this completely new and innovative concept, the series will enhance traditional TV storytelling by creating two stand-alone comedy series, The Parker Andersons and Amelia Parker, each with their own storylines and episodes, while still connected by larger overarching plotlines tying the two independent series together. The Parker Andersons follows the warmly comedic antics of a newly blended family, while Amelia Parker centers around the quietest member of the family, a tween girl navigating the world around her.

The Parker Andersons follows Tony Parker, a British widower and father of two (Nathan and Amelia), who moves to North America where he meets and marries Cleo Anderson, the mother of two kids (Victoria and Charlie). Altogether, they quickly discover that sometimes being ‘blended’ feels a lot like being in a blender.

Amelia Parker centers around the quietest member of the Parker Anderson family, a tween girl who is coming into her own. After her mother died, Amelia became selectively mute, figuring that before she participates in the world again, she better figure some things out. In confessionals, we see that Amelia is actually an opinionated, vivacious girl, who openly explains her hopes, anxieties and fears in virtual conversations with her deceased mom.

Anthony Q. Farrell takes over as Showrunner for both series. Farrell has written for NBC’s The Office, CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie, and Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans and has developed TV series for CBS Studios, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network amongst others. He is the creator of Secret Life of Boys, the BAFTA-winning CBBC series, which is in its fifth season. Anthony joins the series bringing unparalleled talent, humour and leadership to really form the true essence of both shows.  He has assembled a richly talented and diverse team of writers and directors to assist him in ensuring that the stories for both shows are not only entertaining but also authentic. Leading by example through collaboration and providing an opportunity for the next generation, Anthony Q. Farrell is reimagining show running for the next wave.

The series has been commissioned by BYUtv in the U.S. to debut in 2021 as part of their focus on inspiring family programming and will launch in Canada later in 2021, with a Canadian broadcaster to be announced soon.

The Parker-Andersons and Amelia Parker will star Arnold Pinnock as Tony Parker (Cardinal, Coroner, Baroness Von Sketch), Kate Hewlett as Cleo Anderson (The Stanley Dynamic, Degrassi: The Next Generation, The Girlfriend Experience), Millie Davis as Amelia Parker (Odd Squad, Dino Dana, Orphan Black), Agape Mngomezulu as Nathan Parker (Best Intentions, The Twilight Zone, Supernatural), Devin Cecchetto as Victoria Anderson (Ginny & Georgia, The Craft), Charlie Zeltzer as Charlie Anderson (The Handmaid’s Tale, Anne with an E), Sandy Jobin- Bevans as Roger Anderson (Designated Survivor, Just Like Mom and Dad, Good Witch, Baroness Von Sketch Show) and Akiel Julien as Nick Parker (Utopia Falls, The Boys, What We Do in the Shadows). Additional cast members will be announced in the coming weeks.

Executive Producers for the series include Mark J.W. Bishop, Matt Hornburg, Carrie Paupst Shaughnessy, and Co-Executive Producer Donna Luke (marblemedia); Executive Producers Frank van Keeken and Yolanda Yott (Beachwood Canyon); Executive Producer and Showrunner Anthony Q. Farrell and Producer Jim Corston; Executive Producers for BYUtv Michael Dunn, Andra Johnson Duke, Melissa Puente and Jim Bell.

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Rotating Planet Productions’ Zamzoom’s Animal Adventures comes to TVOkids

From a media release:

TVOkids and Montreal-based Rotating Planet Productions proudly present Zamzoom’s Animal Adventures—an imaginative, educational and hilarious new television program for ages five and up.

A 2D animation/live-action hybrid series (21 episodes X 4 minutes), Zamzoom’s Animal Adventures takes kids on an unforgettable wildlife adventure across planet Earth. In each episode, we join Zamzoom, an enthusiastically impulsive space-alien explorer, and Orbie, his sharp-as-a-whistle robot partner, as they spin the globe, point and go! Light years from home, they land in some of Earth’s most stunning landscapes, such as the expansive grasslands of East Africa and the humid rainforests of South America. Coming face-to-face with an eclectic cast of real-life animals, Zamzoom and Orbie learn about what makes each species unique—from the secret language of marmots to the diving skills of northern gannets. They also answer questions such as “Why do hyenas laugh?” and “How do bees make tasty honey?”

Though they’re very different from one another, Zamzoom and Orbie make one intrepid duo! While Zamzoom jumps into any and all experiences without reservation, Orbie accesses Earth’s database to provide amazing facts and vital information that keeps Zamzoom out of trouble. (Although sometimes Orbie resorts to physically yanking Zamzoom out of trouble with the extendable robo-arm!) Together, Zamzoom and Orbie provide bite-sized brain snacks of science and loads of laughs as they embark on an intergalactic expedition of a lifetime!

Colourful, vibrant and entertaining, Zamzoom’s Animal Adventures captures the excitement of nature and wildlife and the sense of exploration and curiosity that comes hand-in-hand with growing up. Anything is possible, and the universe is open to be discovered!

Rotating Planet Productions, based out of Montreal, Quebec, produces and distributes a vast catalogue of wildlife and social documentaries, TV series, short films and children’s programs. Ari A. Cohen, producer and director, has created award-winning and internationally-acclaimed programs for more than twenty years, collaborating with the writers of Zerby Derby and The Adventures of Napkin Man! to bring this new Canadian series to life.

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Family Channel enrols at Malory Towers

From a media release:

This summer, WildBrain Television’s Family Channel will be brimming with midnight feasts, oceanside swims, lacrosse, pranks, sweets, and lasting friendships as the charming new Malory Towers series launches with a two-episode premiere event on Wednesday, July 1 at 11 am ET/PT. Set in post-war Britain on the sun-drenched cliffs of the Cornish coast, Malory Towers is based on Enid Blyton’s hugely popular novel series and follows the adventures of 12-year-old Darrell Rivers, played by newcomer Ella Bright, as she leaves home to attend an all-girls’ boarding school.

Co-produced by WildBrain and the UK’s King Bert Productions, Malory Towers explores universal experiences such as shifting cliques, FOMO, bullying, crushes, peer pressure, and self-doubt. The girls keep an eye on each other and, like a family, are forever connected by their shared experiences. During the double-episode premiere event, Darrell Rivers settles in for her first day at Malory Towers. Always in the thick of it, Darrell has a hairy start at the train station and when odd sounds are heard in the dorm, she learns about the ghost of Lady Jane Malory! However, in awe of her brilliant new surroundings, she keeps her past at her old school, St. Hilda’s, a closely guarded secret.

In the second episode, a jealous Gwen is determined to find out more about Darrell’s past and leaves the school in pursuit of the truth—will Darrell be able to find her before her secret is revealed? Tune in on July 1st to find out! Those who can’t enrol on Canada Day, can enjoy an encore screening of episodes one and two at 6pm ET/PT on July 7th and 8th. From July 9, brand new episodes will run from Tuesday to Friday at 6pm ET/PT, so you won’t have to wait to enjoy all of this wonderful series!

Malory Towers also stars Jennifer Wigmore (Anne with an E) as Headmistress Miss Grayling; Imali Perera (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Miss Potts; and Ashley McGuire as Matron. Rounding out the cast are Zoey Siewert, Twinkle Jaiswal, Danya Griver, and Natasha Raphael alongside newcomers Sienna Arif Knights, Beth Bradfield, Saskia Kemkers, and Imogen Lamb.

An official Canada-UK treaty co-production, Malory Towers is adapted for television by Rachel Flowerday and Sasha Hails. Executive producers for WildBrain are Josh Scherba, Anne Loi, and Michael Goldsmith, with Jo Sargent serving as executive producer for King Bert Productions. The series is produced by King Bert’s Grainne McNamara and WildBrain’s Angela Boudreault, and directed by Rebecca Rycroft (Evermore Chronicles, So Awkward) and Bruce McDonald (Creeped Out, Heartland, Dark Matter).

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Season 2 of Coyote Science celebrates Indigenous science on APTN

I love shows like Coyote Science. Though it’s aimed at kids, I found myself learning a heck of a lot about science and how it ties into the First Nations community.

Returning for a second season on APTN this Sunday at 10 a.m. ET, Coyote Science boasts super-cool animation and a punchy soundtrack, not to mention A-list Indigenous scientists like Percy Paul, a mathematician and physicist who explains the science of a skateboarding technique called an ollie; Jessica Bekker, an electrical engineer helping Indigenous communities develop sustainable energy from solar to wind; Naxaxalhts’i Sonny McHaisle, who has extensive knowledge of the traditional technology of the Sto:lo Nation; and Corey Gray, who works with the Nobel Prize team that measured gravitational waves at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

We spoke to Métis Cree filmmaker Loretta Todd—an internationally acclaimed, award-winning filmmaker—about creating Coyote Science, what viewers can learn and what her plans are for Season 3 amid COVID-19.

Tell me about how Coyote Science came about in the first place.
Loretta Todd: I’ve been a bit of an amateur science nerd for a long time. As an Indigenous person, I’ve always been conscious of the fact that we don’t seem to be in that space of science, except maybe as specimens, or something that is studied. And yet I knew that when I was growing up, I had relatives who were very innovative with technology, could fix anything because that’s what we had to do, who seemed to have deep knowledge of the land, and so on. And so, those things all pertain to science and technology. And also, as I started making films, I would meet new people.

I always like to reference Dr. Leroy Little Bear and his wife, Amethyst First Rider, because they have always been one of my greatest inspirations for much of the work I do as a filmmaker.

Another person who influenced me is someone who’s in the children’s series, John Herrington, who is an astronaut, the first Indigenous astronaut in space. He talks about us as being natural scientists, that Indigenous science, as Indigenous people, we observe, and that from the observations we gain knowledge. We may not have the scientific method, which the west sort of prescribes as a necessity to really be science, but we certainly are engaged in observation and learning from that observation, and even testing, maybe not in the same way as a lab, but we’re doing that now anyway.

Is there a formula for each episode?
LT: There’s a whole parameter of things that influence the shaping of Coyote Science. You sort of have a mission statement or a set of parameters that I wrote out. Drawing from that, but also drawing from my knowledge of Indigenous learning, and just sort of like, ‘OK, this is what we do, this is what we don’t do.’ We’re respectful of adults. We reinforce healthy family relationships. All these things we sort of model that are things that are values within the Native community. Within the Cree culture, we talk about this idea of the good life. It doesn’t mean a materialistic type of life.

It’s a good life in which you’re respectful of family, community, the world around you. So again, I try to embody that. And plus, the other thing is, you’re always trying to underline this idea of encouraging confidence, young people having respect for themselves, liking themselves, seeing that they can do this. And then also, kids like to see other kids reflected back to them. That’s something that’s a constant in educational media. That’s why you see a lot of Indigenous kids. I thought that was really important.

Your host, Isa, is fantastic. 
LT: One of the other things I try to do in my children’s series, and I’ve done that right from the beginning, just because I think it makes it easier for all of us, is I work with kids that I know. I didn’t do an open casting. I asked family and friends. And of course, many of my family and friends are themselves involved in media in some way. So I was looking for kids that were comfortable in front of the camera. That’s sort of one of the first things is to search that out. Isa is my niece’s husband’s niece. She’s brilliant.

She’s now at first-year university, but she’s a straight-A student her whole life, and science has always been an area of her expertise.

Season 3 of Coyote Science is heading into production. How will you do that with COVID-19 still a concern?
LT: I had to convince the broadcaster APTN and CMF that I could do this comfortably, I could do it safely. One of the things that I’m really, really fortunate to have is the fact that through Season 1 and 2 and also through my previous children’s series, I’ve developed these relationships with Indigenous directors, and cinematographers, and other crew, who have kids at home. So basically, what I can do is have them do the quests with their kids at home, because they’ve got the equipment, they’ve got the skill. Some of them are cinematographers and directors, and some of them have got one kid, some of them have got six kids.

Some live in the city, some live out in the country, so we could kind of adjust to that. Some have green screens even, so we can adjust to that. And then, in cases where maybe the only real critical thing I’m worried about is sound, so our plan is to do some online sound workshops with one of our sound recordists, and get one of their family members, the husband, or the wife, or one of their teenage kids, to train in sound so that we can then make sure that we have good quality sound as well.

Coyote Science airs Sundays at 10 a.m. ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of Coyote Science Inc.

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Spring into March with My Perfect Landing, from the creator of The Next Step

From a media release:

Friendship, laughter and some amazing gymnastics are coming to Family Channel this March in the new series My Perfect Landing, premiering as a one-hour television event on Sunday, March 1 at 11:30 a.m. ET/PT. From the creator of the award-winning series The Next Step, Frank van Keeken, the family friendly drama stars real-life competitive gymnast Morgan Wigle as Jenny Cortez, a talented young gymnast who moves to a new city when her family gets the opportunity to run their own gymnastics club. Fans who can’t wait to vault right in can check out the My Perfect Landing YouTube Channel as exclusive video content, including cast video diaries, gymnastics tips and more, will be released beginning Friday, February 21!

The My Perfect Landing premiere kicks off Family’s amazing Free Preview for the full month of March, which includes an incredible line-up of series premieres, like Boss Baby: Back in Business and Holly Hobbie season 2; fan-favourites, like American Ninja Warrior Jr. and Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese; and must-see movies, like The Peanuts Movie and The Fault in Our Stars – all of which and more are sure to make screen time, family time this March!

Filmed last summer in Toronto and Miami, My Perfect Landing centres around aspiring young gymnast, Jenny Cortez, and her family, as they move from Miami to Toronto to open their own gymnastics club. Despite the fresh start, Jenny’s mom won’t allow her to compete at a high-level out of fear she’ll injure herself. With a little encouragement from her new best friends, and some secret training with her Grandpa – a former competitive gymnast himself – Jenny decides to follow her dreams and live up to the legacy of her mother and grandfather.

In the series premiere, debuting on Family Sunday, March 1 at 11:30 a.m. ET/PT, Jenny’s mom loses her job and moves her two kids to Toronto to start a gymnastics club with her father. Jenny is happy to discover her new school has a gymnastics team. Jenny goes behind her mother’s back and tries out for the team, but the captain of the team feels threatened by Jenny’s talent and blackmails her into quitting. Following the one-hour premiere special, new episodes of My Perfect Landing will continue to air Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET/PT beginning March 15.

My Perfect Landing also stars Tom Hulshof as Jenny’s brother, Joon Cortez; Helena Marie as Jenny’s mother, Whitney Cortez; Shawn Alex Thompson as Jenny’s Grandfather, Gus McIlroy; Jordan Clark (The Next Step), Francesca van Keeken (The Next Step), and newcomers Ajanae Stephenson, Natasha Zaborski, Holly Belbeck, Abby Stretch, Keira Still, Luca Assad, Osias Reid, Leonidas Castrounis, Parker Lauzon and Hailey Vynychenko. My Perfect Landing is produced by Beachwood Canyon Productions in association with Family Channel and is executive produced by Frank van Keeken, Yolanda Yott and van Keeken’s Beachwood Canyon Production team. Andrew Barnsley (Schitt’s Creek, JANN) and Ben Murray (JANN, Working the Engels) also serve as executive producers. International distribution is handled by WildBrain Ltd.

In addition to My Perfect Landing, Family’s March schedule is jam-packed with can’t-miss programming for the entire family, including: the series premiere of Boss Baby: Back in Business on Monday, March 2 at 5 p.m. ET/PT; the return of reality competition series American Ninja Warrior Junior on Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. ET/PT; the season 2 premiere of the popular tween drama Holly Hobbie on Sunday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET/PT; new episodes of Sadie Sparks weekdays at 4:15 p.m. ET/PT; episodes of Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese continuing weekdays at 4:30 p.m. ET/PT; and popular movie titles like The Peanuts Movie, Kung Fu Panda, Charlotte’s Web, Over the Hedge, Open Season, Despicable Me and Shrek.

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