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Bell Relinquishes Jets Arena Naming Rights

For the first time in the history of the rink, the home to the NHL Winnipeg Jets won’t carry the name of a telecommunications giant. While Bell Canada announced on June 15 that it had agreed to a multi-year partnership with the Jets to continue as the arena’s official telecommunications provider, True North Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Jets, revealed the same day that the rink would no longer be known as Bell MTS Place. Going forward, the building will be taking on a new life as the Canada Life Centre.

In the recently-completed Stanley Cup playoffs North Division finals, the Jets faced the Montreal Canadiens. Winnipeg was heavily favoured at all of the best Canadian sportsbooks, but Jets backers could’ve used some of that life insurance. They were snuffed out in the minimum four games by the Habs.

The name change will officially take place on Canada Day, July 1. The 10-year sponsorship agreement includes substantial branding, media, hospitality and community assets for Canada Life. Home to both the NHL Jets and the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg’s top farm club, the arena typically hosts more than 140 events each year and is consistently recognized as one of the premier sports and entertainment venues in North America.

The 440,000-square-foot building can house 15,000 fans at a hockey game and more than 16,000 at concerts.

When the MTS Centre opened in 2004, the AHL Moose were the major tenants of the facility. The Jets moved into the building in 2011 after being relocated from Atlanta.

While the name Canada Life Centre is effective July 1, 2021, it will take several weeks to replace the current signage in place throughout the facility. Canada Life estimates that all of the signage will be changed over by September.

While Bell gained its name on the building by purchasing MTS, Canada Life also recently underwent a similar acquisition. Great West Life and London Life were usurped in a merger and are now all part of the Canada Life brand.

Mark Chipman, executive chairman of True North Sports & Entertainment, indicated that the opportunity for this partnership arose just as the Bell MTS agreement was about to come to an end.

“I’ve known Paul and the folks at Canada Life for a long, long time,” Chipman told the Winnipeg Free Press. “Certainly, this was something we were both interested in seeing happen. But more than that, I think the most unique and powerful part of this is that it is a national company that is still very local.”

True North Sports & Entertainment is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“It couldn’t be a better time to embark upon the next 10 years of our journey than with a partner like Canada Life, that shares the same community commitment and passion for our great city and country,” Chipman said.

Chipman noted that with the hopefulness growing that the COVID-19 pandemic is coming under control, that the company has initiated the process of tentatively booking concerts and other events for the fall.

“However, it all depends on the public health orders in place at the time,” Chipman said.

Paul Mahon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Great-West Lifeco, Canada Life’s parent company, noted that they were OK with that prospect and are focusing on a long future of working with True North.

“We’re in this for a big decade of collaboration,” Mahon said. “Even if that means it’ll be a slow start to events because of the pandemic, obviously that’s disappointing to the fans and people wanting to come back to stands, but we’re just excited we get to be there for this journey as a team.”

Brief History With Bell
Known as the MTS Centre when it opened in 2004 at a cost of $133.5 million, the arena was renamed the Bell MTS Place on May 30, 2017, following Bell Canada’s acquisition of Manitoba Telecommunication Services.

While Bell will see its name removed from the Jets arena, the company’s logo will continue to adorn the Jets’ helmets for the next five seasons as part of the telecommunications deal.

Bell still has its name on one significant NHL arena. In 2002, Bell Canada paid $100 million US for the naming rights to the home of the Montreal Canadiens, formerly known as the Molson Centre. A 20-year pact, that deal will also be coming to completion soon. Montreal’s arena will be called the Bell Centre through 2022.

Winnipeg Jets by TheAthletic is licensed under CC BY 3.0

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Blood and Water: Fire & Ice’s Diane Boehme: “We’re going out on a high note. This is our best season ever”

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the television industry—as it has our lives—into disarray. It hit production of Blood and Water: Fire & Ice particularly hard, splitting the Omni drama’s production in two. That extended break of almost a year meant a loss of some actors to other projects, all of the locations to film in and some crew. But, as Blood and Water: Fire & Ice creator and showrunner Diane Boehme tells it, the pandemic was also a creative blessing.

“I had a chance to sit down and say, ‘You know, I think I’d like to see a little more of this character… what would he think about this, what would she think about that,’ and really catch my breath,” Boehme says. “I think that the series is richer for all of that input and the time we had to implement it. This might be our final season, but by god, we’re going out on a high note. This is our best season ever.” Catching her breath meant a massive re-write and a focus on the locations they did have—in Hamilton and Brantford, Ont.—a story that fit and juggling COVID safety protocol costs. The result, from the first two episodes I’ve seen, has made for an even tighter and engaging story.

Back for a final season Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m. ET on Omni, Blood and Water: Fire & Ice‘s final chapter of eight half-hour episodes follows disgraced former Vancouver cop Michelle Chang (Selena Lee)—now a Toronto-based private detective—as she hunts down Norris Pang (Sean Baek), the man who has kidnapped her daughter. Pang is also the mastermind behind a money laundering scheme happening at the Xie family’s casino, where Anna Xie (Elfina Luk) is attempting to expand the family business, much to her father’s chagrin.

Lee, as Michelle, is mesmerizing to watch. Her eyes emote so much of what Michelle is feeling—the pain of getting close to her daughter, only to have her taken away—and she wields a weapon with the best of them.

“She is so focused, a great leader and a lovely person to work with,” Boehme says. “She is a big star in Asia and I’m glad that our show had a chance to repatriate her back to Canada.”

Blood and Water: Fire & Ice airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on Omni.

Images courtesy of Breakthrough Entertainment.

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2021 Rockie Awards International Program Competition winners announced

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Rockie Awards International Program Competition. Hosted by one of Canada’s most popular comedic talents and YouTube personality Jasmeet Raina, the virtual edition of the Rockie Awards was streamed live celebrating excellence in television and digital media content from around the world.

The Rockie Awards International Program Competition is one of the largest awards programs of its kind, juried by an esteemed panel of 150 international industry professionals and covering all major genres. The Rockie Awards Grand Jury chooses the coveted Grand Jury Prize, selected from the top-scoring programs across the entire field of nominees.

The competition featured 142 nominations from 37 countries including the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, and The Netherlands.

Countries taking home top Rockies honours include:
UK: 11 awards
USA: 10 awards
Canada: 5 awards
Australia & France: 4 awards each

International Program Competition winners include:

Drama Series: English Language
Killing Eve
Sid Gentle Films Limited, BBC America (UK)

Comedy Series: English Language
The Flight Attendant
Berlanti Productions, Yes, Norman Productions, Warner Bros. Television (USA)

Limited Series
I May Destroy You
Various Artists Ltd, FALKNA Ltd, HBO (UK)

Drama Series: Non-English Language
Caliphate (Kalifat)
Filmlance International AB, SVT, Film Capital Stockholm (SWEDEN)

Comedy Series: Non-English Language
El Presidente
Gaumont, Amazon Studios (ARGENTINA, CHILE, USA)

Live Action: Children
First Day
Epic Films, ABC Australia (AUSTRALIA)

Live Action: Youth
War Stories (Oorlog-Stories)
EO Broadcasting, Stepping Stones Productions (THE NETHERLANDS)

Competition Series & Game Shows
Alone
Leftfield Pictures for History (USA)

Docuseries
Filthy Rich & Homeless
Blackfella Films, SBS (AUSTRALIA)

Lifestyle
Love on the Spectrum
Northern Pictures, Netflix (AUSTRALIA)

Podcast: Fiction
Hindsight
Kelly&Kelly, Al Jazeera Podcasts, Audible (CANADA, QATAR, UK)

Podcast: Non-Fiction
Where Is George Gibney?
Second Captains for BBC Sounds (IRELAND, UK, USA)

History & Biography
Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Associated Producers Ltd., Cornelia Street Productions, UppiTV, Anonymous Content, EPIX (CANADA, UK)

Science & Technology
Cosmos: Possible Worlds
Possible Worlds, LLC in association with Fox for National Geographic (USA)

Sports Documentary
The Last Dance
Mandalay Sports Media Production, NBAEntertainment, ESPN Films, Netflix (USA)

TV Movie
Roald & Beatrix, the Tail of the Curious Mouse
Hartswood Films, Sky Studios (UK)

Program of the Year
Winner: It’s a Sin, Red Production Company For Channel 4 and HBO Max in association with All3Media International (UK)

Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content
Winner: Happily Married (C’est comme ça que je t’aime), Cineflix Media, Casablanca Productions, Ici Tou.tv (CANADA)
The $25,000 Rogers Prize is awarded to the highest-scoring Canadian program or property in the Rockies International Program Competition across two rounds of independent jury review.

Francophone Prize
Winner: Brazen (Culottées), Silex Films, France Télévisions (FRANCE)
The Francophone Prize is awarded to the jury’s highest-scoring French-language video submission.

Grand Jury Prize
Winner: I May Destroy You, Various Artists Ltd, FALKNA Ltd, HBO (UK)
The Grand Jury Prize recognizes the “best in show” from all Rockies International Program Competition winning entries.

The full list of Rockie Awards International Program Competition Winners.

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Bell Media announces English and French-language original programming orders and renewals for 2021/22 season

From a media release:

Bell Media confirmed today a robust Canadian content lineup of more than 75 titles for its 2021-22 season, featuring orders of new original series, documentaries, and specials. Fueling English and French-language services across Bell Media properties, and produced in partnership with independent production partners and Bell Media Studios, the new orders and series join a strong roster of award-winning returning shows, and can’t-miss documentaries and specials.

Among today’s announcements:

Veena Sood (CORNER GAS ANIMATED), Dmitry Chepovetsky (KILLJOYS), and Lisa Codrington (LETTERKENNY) join previously announced cast of new CTV Original comedy CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING, created by Emmy® Award-winner Kurt Smeaton (SCHITT’S CREEK), and executive produced by Chuck Tatham (MODERN FAMILY) and Mark Montefiore (LETTERKENNY).

The CTV Original slate also includes a double season order of the English-language adaption ROAST BATTLE CANADA for CTV Comedy Channel, hosted by Ennis Esmer (CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING), and featuring Russell Peters (THE INDIAN DETECTIVE), Sabrina Jalees (CAROL’S SECOND ACT), and K. Trevor Wilson (LETTERKENNY); Mary Berg’s new previously confirmed culinary series MARY MAKES IT EASY for CTV Life Channel; new haunting drama SURREALESTATE starring Tim Rozon (WYNONNA EARP) and Sarah Levy (SCHITT’S CREEK) for CTV Sci-Fi Channel; and previously confirmed new seasons of award-winning hits TRANSPLANT (Season 2) and JANN (Season 3) for CTV, and CORNER GAS ANIMATED (Season 4) for CTV Comedy Channel.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Canada’s most-watched summer series, THE AMAZING RACE CANADA, is heading back on the road in 2022.

In addition to a strong roster of original documentaries, Crave confirmed orders for new and innovative scripted comedy DU ME A FAVOR starring 4YE Original’s Jermaine Richards and Trevaunn Richards; six-part, limited dramatic series LITTLE BIRD, created by Jennifer Podemski (UNSETTLED), who also serves as executive producer, and Hannah Moscovitch (X COMPANY), with Jeremy Podeswa (GAME OF THRONES) and Rezolution Pictures/Original Pictures as executive producers; and gripping investigative series THUNDER BAY, produced and hosted by Anishinaabe journalist and award-winning writer Ryan McMahon, who works to uncover the truth in the recent deaths of multiple Indigenous people in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Crave also adds 10-part comedy PILLOW TALK, an adaptation of the French-language Noovo series, ENTRE DEUX DRAPS, set entirely in people’s bedrooms; and drag queen and CANADA’S DRAG RACE judge Brooke Lynn Hytes hosts new eight-part series 1 QUEEN 5 QUEERS, an update to MTV Canada hit 1 GIRL 5 GAYS, which ran from 2009 to 2014. Plus, as previously announced, CANADA’S DRAG RACE returns for its sophomore season.

As production begins on Seasons 10 and 11 of acclaimed series LETTERKENNY, Crave confirms upcoming LETTERKENNY spin-off series SHORESY.

New French programming on Crave this season includes docuseries QUI A TUÉ MARIE-JOSÉE?, which follows the murky case of Marie-Josée Saint-Antoine to find out what happened to the Quebec model. Plus, Crave’s first French original production, POUR TOUJOURS, PLUS UN JOUR, is back for a second season.

Discovery Networks adds MOTHER TRUCKERS about a female led trucking company’s treacherous hauls to the North; chainsaw-wielding competition series A CUT ABOVE; and unlocks centuries-old mysteries of hidden artifacts, infrastructure, and Underground Railroad and railroad routes in the new four-part series UNDERGROUND RAILROAD SECRETS (working title). MUD MOUNTAIN HAULERS, HIGHWAY THRU HELL, and HEAVY RESCUE: 401 are also set to return for new seasons.

Bell Media confirms new documentaries including OSCAR PETERSON about the jazz legend; a look at a Canadian rock-trio in TRIUMPH: ROCK & ROLL MACHINE; NAKED, a documentary that follows individuals and communities, experts and artists around the globe who are radically and joyfully redefining gender as we know it; and WILFRED BUCK, which follows one Cree elder’s dedication to unearthing and sharing Indigenous star knowledge by weaving together his harrowing past and present life.

Bell Media Studios delivers new seasons of YOUR MORNING, THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW, THE SOCIAL, and ETALK – which celebrates its milestone 20th season, and 11 years as Canada’s most-watched entertainment news program.

This fall, Noovo once again relies on top-quality Quebec programming, including new drama series VIRAGE, …MOI NON PLUS!, and L’HOMME QUI AIMAIT TROP. Returning this fall are LA FAMILLE GROULX for Canal Vie, and hit series CORDE RAIDE for Z, with additional titles to be announced for 2022 in the coming months.

Bell Media’s New English and French-Language Primetime Original Entertainment Productions Slate from Independent Producers Includes the Following.

New English-Language Series:

1 QUEEN 5 QUEERS – Crave
Drag queen and CANADA’S DRAG RACE judge Brooke Lynn Hytes, our Queen of the North, is here and ready to lead fierce and fiery discussions about all things queer in the new eight-part series 1 QUEEN 5 QUEERS. The show, an update to MTV Canada hit 1 GIRL 5 GAYS that ran from 2009 to 2014, offers a platform for a broad range of queer voices and reflects the awareness and values of a new generation of viewers. Led by Brooke Lynn herself, each episode is focused on a single topic and brings together a panel of diverse voices to speak openly and honestly through fast-paced, no-holds-barred conversations. It is chaotic and raw, quick and unfiltered, engaging, possibly enraging…but always inspiring. (Bell Media Studios)

A CUT ABOVE – Discovery
From the producers of BLOWN AWAY, this brand new cutting-edge competition series features twelve of the best chainsaw wielding carvers form across North America turning ordinary logs into intricate works of art. In each episode, the carvers face two time sensitive challenges to test their skills and creativity: a Quick Carve that tests their technique and the functionality of the carved piece followed by an elaborate, high-stakes themed Main Challenge to help decide who advances and who goes home. Throughout the series, competitors are mentored and judged by a panel of highly respected Master Carvers. In the end, there can only be one winner who will take home the cash prize and be named A Cut Above the rest? (marblemedia)

CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING – CTV
Created by Emmy® Award-winner Kurt Smeaton (SCHITT’S CREEK), CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING follows a set of parents, as they raise their two young children and struggle to hold on to their pre-kid life. But can one be a parent and have the strong desire to live a beautiful, easy, cool, not-covered-in-snot life? In CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING, Astrid and James struggle with this paradox, as they try to maintain sanity in the face of their young children. The series chronicles their war of identity – one conceded battle at a time – that illustrates the hilarious and varied ways kids can wreck happiness, annihilate goals and dreams, and re-invent lives. It explores how sometimes, if parents are very lucky, their re-invented life is sort of okay, too. Nowhere near as good as that old, really great life. But still kinda nice. The eight-episode, half-hour series stars Meaghan Rath (HAWAII FIVE-0) and Aaron Abrams (HANNIBAL), with Ennis Esmer (BLINDSPOT), Nazneen Contractor (RANSOM), and introducing Logan Nicholson and Mikayla SwamiNathan. Veena Sood (CORNER GAS ANIMATED), Dmitry Chepovetsky (KILLJOYS), and Lisa Codrington (LETTERKENNY) join the cast in supporting roles. (New Metric Media in association with CTV)

DU ME A FAVOR – Crave
Jae and Trey’s DU ME A FAVOR is a half-hour loosely scripted series following wannabe fashion moguls, Jermaine Richards and Trevaunn Richards. The durag, a thin headscarf that has been vilified and misunderstood for years, is now the focus of their mission of redemption, de-stigmatization, and monetization. Jermaine Richards and Trevaunn Richards serve as executive producers alongside Mark Montefiore. (New Metric Media)

LITTLE BIRD – Crave
LITTLE BIRD is a premium, six-part limited dramatic series about an Indigenous woman on a journey to find her birth family and uncover the hidden truth of her past. Bezhig Little Bird was adopted into a Jewish family at the age of five, becoming Esther Rosenblum. Now in her 20s, Bezhig longs for the family she lost and is willing to sacrifice everything to find them. Her quest lands her in the Canadian prairies, worlds apart from everything she knows, where she begins unravel the mystery behind her adoption forcing her to question everything she believed to be true. When she discovers that she was one of the generation of children forcibly apprehended by the Canadian government through a policy, later coined The 60s Scoop, Bezhig’s pursuit to reconnect her family intensifies. This groundbreaking new series explores themes of trauma and loss while reminding us of the power and resilience of the human spirit, holding a mirror up to who we are and who we hope to become. Bell Media is in partnership with APTN for LITTLE BIRD. The series will launch simultaneously on Crave and APTN lumi. Further details to be announced. Created by Jennifer Podemski and Hannah Moscovitch. Directors include Zoe Hopkins. Executive producers are Podemski, Moskovitch, and Jeremy Podeswa. Catherine Bainbridge, Christina Fon, Linda Ludwick, and Ernest Webb serve as executive producers for Rezolution Pictures, and Kim Todd and Nicholas Hirst serve as executive producers for Original Pictures. (Rezolution Pictures, Original Pictures)

MARY MAKES IT EASY – CTV Life Channel
The kitchen is Mary Berg’s happy place, and she wants it to be yours too – whether you’re bored of your repertoire, or scared to try something new. On MARY MAKES IT EASY, join Berg as she takes you step-by-step through recipes guaranteed to impress without the stress. Filmed in Toronto at her home kitchen, the series follows Berg as she shares tips, tricks, and recipes to solve every day cooking conundrums. From ideas on what to make with a fridge full of leftovers, to lackluster chicken emergencies, Berg’s thoughtful solutions for viewers leaves them with a newfound confidence to overcome any challenges they encounter on their culinary journey. The series is hosted by Canadian Screen Award-winner Mary Berg (MARY’S KITCHEN CRUSH). (Boat Rocker Studios, Unscripted through Proper Television)

MOTHER TRUCKERS – Discovery
The frozen north: home to dozens of remote communities that are inaccessible by conventional roads or railways. Above the tree line, lakes, rivers, and spongy, low-lying bogs, called muskeg, cover the landscape. For eight short weeks, from early February to late March, the ice is thick enough to support an 80,000-pound truck filled with supplies. The winter roads are the lifeblood for thousands of people living in the North. Building supplies and medical equipment, construction vehicles, fuel, and food all have a short window for delivery. It is simply too expensive to get heavy goods in by air. So the winter roads trucking season is essential. And slammed Geraldine Horbas runs the first trucking company to haul loads to the frozen North. Geraldine is calling on the legendary Lisa Kelly (Ice Road Truckers), and friends to haul double and triple the loads they normally carry on the most treacherous ice roads ever. These MOTHER TRUCKERS will do whatever it takes to bring communities the supplies they need to survive the winter and make it home alive. MOTHER TRUCKERS is produced by Prospero Pictures and Eagle Vision and represented in the US and globally by Rive Gauche Television, an Aftershock Media Company. (Prospero Pictures and Eagle Vision)

PILLOW TALK – Crave
An adaptation of the French-language Noovo series, ENTRE DEUX DRAPS, PILLOW TALK is a 10-part comedy that takes place entirely in bedrooms. The series mainly revolves around five twosomes of completely different ages and backgrounds. With a realistic tone, the dramatic comedy explores in a raw and disarming way all the various scenarios experienced in the intimacy of the bedroom. Louis Morissette, Louis-Philippe Drolet, Alain Chicoine, and Mélanie Viau are exclusive producers. (KOTV Productions)

ROAST BATTLE CANADA – CTV Comedy Channel
The previously announced ROAST BATTLE CANADA has been renewed for a second season in advance of its series debut. Based on the format from ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution, the eight, half-hour episode series builds on the success of Bell Media’s French-language version, ROAST BATTLE: LE GRAND DUEL, which is consistently a top-ranking series for Z. The English-language adaption, ROAST BATTLE CANADA, sees two pairs of Canadian comics faceoff in each episode, hurling ruthless jokes at each other in hopes of coming out unscathed and crowned the victor by a distinguished panel of judges. Presiding over each episode are megastar comedian Russell Peters; writer, producer, actor, and all-around funny person, Sabrina Jalees (CAROL’S SECOND ACT); and Season 1 ROAST BATTLE semi-finalist K. Trevor Wilson (LETTERKENNY). Actor and comedian Ennis Esmer (CHILDREN RUIN EVERYTHING) serves as host. (Just For Laughs and Counterfeit Pictures)

SHORESY – Crave
From the team behind the smash-hit series LETTERKENNY comes its first official spin-off, SHORESY. Created by, written by, and starring Jared Keeso, directed by Jacob Tierney, and produced by New Metric Media in partnership with WildBrain and Play Fun Games, in this new series, Shoresy joins a senior triple hockey AAA team in Northern Ontario on a quest to never lose again. (New Metric Media)

SURREALESTATE – CTV Sci-Fi Chanel
One-hour drama SURREALESTATE is about a team of real estate specialists who investigate, discover, and correct unconventional problems that make certain properties difficult to sell. Tim Rozon (WYNONNA EARP) is Luke Roman, of The Roman Agency; an agency with the talent for flipping “metaphysically engaged” properties – a.k.a haunted houses. (Blue Ice Pictures)

THUNDER BAY – Crave
THUNDER BAY is a four-part Crave Original documentary series based on the groundbreaking podcast from CANADALAND, Thunder Bay. The gripping investigative series is produced and also hosted by Anishinaabe journalist and award-winning writer, Ryan McMahon, who is on a quest to uncover the truth in the recent deaths of multiple Indigenous people in Thunder Bay, Ontario – a city known as the homicide and hate crime capital of Canada. McMahon’s investigation sheds light on the history of racism in Thunder Bay, and examines the failings and the injustices of its social systems and institutions. The series unravels the country’s complicated relationship with colonialism, examining the consequences of the broken system in which some can thrive, while many others, disproportionally struggle to survive. Produced, written, and hosted by Ryan McMahon. Directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. (Series is also produced by eOne)

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD SECRETS (working title) – Discovery
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD SECRETS (working title) is a ground-breaking, four-part, factual documentary series using modern archeological tools, techniques, and innovative science to unlock centuries-old mysteries and immerse viewers deep within the secret Underground Railroad routes that spanned North America. (Attraction)

UP THE DISH – CTV Life Channel
UP THE DISH features multiple, high-caliber chefs reworking classic recipes and presenting a variation of each iconic dish. Each half-hour episode starts with a classic version of the featured dish, followed by an alternate version, a vegan or vegetarian option, and culminating in an over-the-top, show-stopping final version, such as a five-star presentation or a tasty dessert. (Gusto Worldwide Media)

WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! – Crave
Previously confirmed WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! is a smart, playful six-part documentary series about the end of the world. Drawing together science, psychology, pop culture, and philosophy, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! meets our fascination with the apocalypse head-on. Stuart Henderson and Gordon Henderson are executive producers. (90th Parallel Productions)

New English-Language Documentaries and Specials:

A.RTIFICIAL I.MMORTALITY – Crave Original Documentary
Directed by award-winning Canadian filmmaker Ann Shin, A.RTIFICIAL I.MMORTALITY was selected as the Opening Night film at the 2021 Hot Docs Festival, and explores the latest technological advancements in AI, robotics, and biotech to pose the tempting question: if you could live forever through AI, would you? Inspired by the transhumanist movement and facing the reality of death as her father suffers from dementia, Shin begins an investigation into the complex world of digital cloning through AI. The film explores these questions with visionaries including: Nick Bostrom, author of Superintelligence; Hiroshi Ishiguro, developer of his own uncannily realistic clone Geminoid; Douglas Rushkoff, author of Team Human; Ben Goertzel, founder of Singularity.net who coined the term Artificial General Intelligence; and Deepak Chopra, who is creating his own A.I. mind twin. (Fathom Film Group)

BAM BAM: THE STORY OF SISTER NANCY – Crave Original Documentary
BAM BAM: THE STORY OF SISTER NANCY is a feature music documentary that explores the wild story behind how Sister Nancy’s hit song “Bam Bam” became the most sampled reggae vocal of all time, and uncovers a decades-long deception. From Nancy’s unprecedented entry into the male-dominated 80s Dancehall scene in Kingston, Jamaica, to her courageous fight to control her music, Sister Nancy’s story is not only one of resilience but also one of celebration. Ultimately, this is an inspirational music documentary about a woman dusting herself off after being held back by an industry known for silencing female artists and hell-bent on empowering others – with her music and knowledge to make a difference. Proving to all that good music, no matter what can’t be stopped! Directed by Alison Duke. Produced by OYA Media with Ngardy Conteh George and Alison Duke serving as producers. Executive Producer is Moss Raxlen. (OYA Media Group)

THE BONES – Crave Original Documentary
THE BONES is a stunning, cinematic exploration of the high stakes business of dinosaur bone trading, where obsessive collectors compete with museums, scientists, and high-end auction houses to own a piece of the past. It’s a story of intrigue; an illicit caper at the collision of science and commerce. Directed by Jeremy Xido. Produced by Ina Fichman, Intuitive Pictures. Co-Producer, Stefan Pannen, Berlin Producers. Executive Producers are Ina Fichman, Thomas Campbell Jackson, and Jared Moshe. (Intuitive Pictures)

BUFFY SAINTE MARIE: POWER IN THE BLOOD – CTV and Crave Original Documentary
For more than 50 years, Buffy Sainte-Marie has been a star. Her songs are legendary, her impact undeniable. One of Canada’s most-respected Indigenous leaders, she’s a pioneer of music and activism, and has left an indelible mark on the world. The film tells Buffy’s incredible story through exclusive access, rare archives, insightful interviews, and great music. The 90-min documentary BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: POWER IN THE BLOOD celebrates Buffy’s extraordinary achievements, dispels myths, sets the record straight, and illustrates that in a time of chaos and division, we’ve never needed Buffy more than now. (White Pine Pictures & Eagle Vision, developed in association with Wolfwalker)

FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK – Crave Original Documentary
Sometime in the 1960s, in sunny Sacramento, two Filipina-American sisters got together with other teenage girls to play music. Little did they know their garage band would evolve into the legendary rock group Fanny, the first all-women band to release an LP with a major record label (Warner/Reprise, 1970). Despite releasing five critically-acclaimed albums over five years, touring with famed bands from Slade to Chicago, and amassing a dedicated fan base of music legends including David Bowie, Fanny’s groundbreaking impact in music was written out of history…until bandmates reunite 50 years later with a new rock record deal. With incredible archival footage of the band’s rocking past intercut with its next chapter releasing a new LP today, the film includes interviews with a large cadre of music icons, including Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Bonnie Raitt, The Go-Go’s Kathy Valentine, Todd Rundgren, The Runaways’ Cherie Currie, Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, and The B52’s Kate Pierson. Fighting early barriers of race, gender, and sexuality in the music industry, and now ageism, the incredible women of Fanny are ready to claim their hallowed place in the halls of rock ‘n’ roll fame. FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK recently had its World Premiere at the 2021 Hot Docs Festival, where it took home the coveted Audience Choice Award. Directed by Bobbi Jo Hart. (Adobe Productions International Inc.)

THE GRIZZLIE TRUTH – Crave Original Documentary
From the team behind Finding Big Country and The Carter Effect, THE GRIZZLIE TRUTH follows basketball superfan (and the film’s director) Kat Jayme on a quest for truth and redemption for her hometown NBA team, the Vancouver Grizzlies…who mysteriously disappeared after just six seasons. Through Kat’s unwavering devotion, this documentary explores the unique and remarkable story of how Vancouver won an NBA franchise against all odds, only to lose the team in record time. This is the untold story of the gone, but far from forgotten, Vancouver Grizzlies. Full of heart and humour, THE GRIZZLIE TRUTH is much more than a sports story; it’s a mystery, a comedy of errors, and an underdog epic. (Grizz Films in partnership with Uninterrupted)

JUST FOR LAUGHS STAND-UP – CTV Comedy Channel and Crave
CTV Comedy Channel and Crave are back in Montréal this summer for the triumphant return of the Just For Laughs Festival, shooting six stand-up specials that feature a diverse mix of comedy’s “who’s who” and future stars. (Just For Laughs)

KINGS OF COKE – Crave Original Documentary
People often think about Miami when it comes to cocaine, but Montréal may have been the biggest drug kingdom of them all. By the 70s, Montréal, the infamous party town, was engulfed in mayhem. The city had become known as the bank robbery capital of North America with more heists than New York or Los Angeles. Then, a brazen group of thieves moved into the drug trade, smuggling cocaine on a global scale. This 90-minute, true crime documentary chronicles the path to power of one of Montréal’s most influential and violent gangs, the infamous West End Gang, and the cops and journalists who pursued its three leaders. It’s an unlikely rise and inevitable fall, but more importantly, it’s a largely forgotten and underreported story, even for the most seasoned of true crime fans. KINGS OF COKE is produced by Michael Kronish and directed by Julian Sher. (Connect 3, Urbania Media)

NAKED – Crave Original Documentary
A documentary feature film about the gender binary. What is it, how does it manifest itself in our minds and our lives – and how can we go beyond? NAKED follows individuals and communities, experts, and artists around the globe who right now are radically and joyfully redefining gender as we know it. Together, we explore their vision of a future beyond the gender binary. Directed by Stephanie Weimar. Executive Producer is Michael McMahon. Producers are Kevin McMahon and Felicity Justrabo. (Primitive Entertainment)

ONE BIG RECIPE HOLIDAY SPECIAL – CTV Life Channel
ONE BIG RECIPE is all about cooking for family and friends and so are the holidays! Chef Kimberly Lallouz offers her take on holiday favourites in this seasonal one-hour special episode. Her first course is a Moroccan spiced beet latke with lightly dressed greens and crème fraiche. Next, whole fennel is braised tender, gratinéed and spiked with apple chutney. Entrees include a one-of-a-king turkey breast ‘buche de Noel’ roulade and a juicy, beefy espresso-red wine spiked brisket roast. Along with her main course come her unique, single-serving stuffin’ muffins, two sauces, sugar snap peas and watermelon radishes. Viewers won’t want to leave without seeing her sweet hostess gifts – white chocolate brittle-bark and perfect sugar cookies. (Gusto Worldwide Media)

OSCAR PETERSON – CTV and Crave Original Documentary
There are very few other musical artists that have had reverential and lauded careers that have sustained over six decades, and still remain top of mind as a giant and legend amongst jazz musicians. Oscar Peterson, or simply “O.P” by his friends, or “the King of inside swing,” is easily considered one of the greatest and most prolific jazz pianists, featuring a career that included thousands of worldwide concerts and the mentoring of hundreds of protégées. The documentary features exclusive interviews with Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Ramsey Lewis, and is directed by acclaimed director Barry Avrich (DAVID FOSTER: OFF THE RECORD). (Melbar Entertainment Group)

PAR-LAY – THE FRED VANVLEET STORY – TSN
An original documentary profiling the inspiring story of the Toronto Raptors star, this feature biopic charts VanVleet’s rise to prominence as a basketball star, and the unwavering belief in himself, as he blazes his own unique path to becoming an NBA Champion. Set to premiere on Canada’s Sports Leader TSN in the fall of 2021. (UNINTERRUPTED Canada, Par-Lay Content)

RESIDENT ORCA – Crave Original Documentary
In the summer of 2018 killer whale Tahlequah makes international news headlines, when she carries her dead calf for more than 17 days and 1000 miles in an unprecedented show of mourning. What would make a mother whale go to such lengths? RESIDENT ORCA tells the story of the mysterious decline of Tahlequah’s clan, the Southern Resident Killer Whales, and the team of scientists working to uncover not only what is killing them, but also how to prevent their imminent extinction. Co-directed and co-produced by Simon Schneider and Sarah Sharkey Pearce. (Everyday Films)

TRIUMPH: ROCK & ROLL MACHINE – CTV and Crave Original Documentary
Known simply as Triumph, this rock-trio dominated radio and MTV in the 80s, and were the envy of the touring business with even Michael Jackson taking a page out of their live show book. But despite being one of the world’s biggest rock bands, the trio split at the height of their fame and seemingly disappeared without explanation to their fans or media. Set to a mesmerizing visual backdrop of spandex, 80s hair, and explosive pyro, TRIUMPH: ROCK & ROLL MACHINE reveals a deeper story about fame and the human condition as the band reunites for what might be the very last time they play music together. Directed by Sam Dunn and Marc Ricciardelli. (Banger Films in association with Revolver)

WILFRED BUCK – Crave Original Documentary
WILFRED BUCK is a hybrid feature documentary centering on a Cree elder who’s dedicated his life to unearthing and sharing Indigenous star knowledge. Weaving together his harrowing past and his present life with sky stories, this cinematic film explores colonization’s attempts to extinguish Indigenous ways of knowing, the values of interrelationship that shape Indigenous science, and how this worldview paves a healthier path forward for our planet. Directed by Lisa Jackson. Executive producers are David Christensen, Nicholas de Pencier, and Jennifer Baichwal. (Door Number 3 in association with the National Film Board)

New French-Language Series:

The following new series will come to Noovo, Canal Vie, Z, Canal D, Crave, and Vrak in Fall 2021 and early 2022, with additional titles to be announced for 2022 in the coming months.

BIENVENUE À LA SHOP! – Z
This documentary series immerses viewers in the fascinating world of custom classic car restoration. It follows a dedicated team that works on fixing up cars from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, as well as boats and appliances. BIENVENUE À LA SHOP! introduces viewers to a tight-knit clan with no shortage of business. (Anémone Films)

CAMPUS – VRAK
This fall, VRAK presents a new series for young adults. Following a tragic incident, seven students try to get through the ordeal by sticking together: Alex, Cédric, and Yasmine, a polyamorous trio; Yandou, a recently arrived immigrant from Senegal; Béthanie, a free-spirited young woman with a secret; Myriam, a social justice warrior; and Taylor, who is haunted by past mistakes. They form close bonds, like a family of choice. Their daily lives are marked by a sense of togetherness but also by stress from their post-secondary studies, along with multiple love affairs and their efforts to speak out against abuse. Through thick and thin, these young adults strive to keep their close-knit gang together. (Duo Productions)

CLUB SOLY – Noovo
Arnaud Soly brings his unique brand of comedy to Noovo. The Discovery of the Year at the most recent Gala Les Olivier, and his accomplices Katherine Levac, Virginie Fortin, Pierre-Yves Roy-Desmarais, Julien Corriveau, Richardson Zéphyr, and Anas Hassouna, review the latest news stories and media trends while examining the ways we respond to and comment on them. They will also be joined by celebrity guests. Led by Rafaële Germain, the writing team includes Arnaud Soly, Julien Corriveau, LeLouis Courchesne, and Suzie Bouchard. (Encore Télévision)

COUPLES À BOUTTE – Canal Vie
Following the hits MÈRES À BOUTTE and CÉLIBATAIRES À BOUTTE, this series chronicles the journeys of people who are going through relationship difficulties, or have decided to break up. All couples face problems, for a wide variety of reasons: money, domestic chores, infidelity, children’s education, communication, or sexuality. Nevertheless, being in a relationship is still viewed as the ultimate success symbol. Featuring Kim Rusk and Marie-Ève Piché (Maman Caféine). (Sphère Média)

ESCOUADE POILUE – Canal Vie
A few years ago, Anne-Caroline Coutu decided to quit her job as a sales clerk to pursue a career in animal entertainment for people who need it at schools, daycares, and long-term care centres. Her animals, including a miniature pony, all live in her home and help her bring joy to those around her. (Productions ToRoS)

QUI A TUÉ MARIE-JOSÉE? – Crave
Marie-Josée Saint-Antoine, a Quebec model living in New York, was stabbed in her Manhattan apartment on June 18, 1982. The New York Police had few clues. One name cropped up repeatedly: Alain Montpetit, a major TV and disco star in Quebec. Although he was never accused, he put a halt to his career and then died of a drug overdose. Forty years later, a team revisits the evidence in this murky case to find out what happened to Marie-Josée. (Attraction Images)

LE JOUR J – Canal Vie
In this eye-opening magazine show, Julie Snyder offers a rare glimpse inside her private world. After raising her two kids in a huge hundred-year-old house, the host and producer is preparing to box up 15 years of her life. She has to renovate her large heritage house in Outremont, decorate her new condo to better suit her lifestyle, and dispose of treasures she has collected over the years. With the help of real estate agent Georges Bardagi and designers Jacinthe Piotte and Nicola Tardif-Bourdages, Julie will downsize from 10,000 to 2,500 square feet! (Productions ToRoS)

LE PUNCH CLUB – Z
Z presents a new improv competition showcasing some of Quebec’s most popular comedic stars. Inspired by the league of the same name, this improv show combines the energy of a rap performance with the excitement of a wrestling match. Richardson Zéphir and Ève Côté serve as the commentary team, while Tammy Verge conducts interviews with the performers. Featuring Marie-Soleil Dion, Virginie Fortin, Mehdi Bousaidan, André Robitaille, LeLouis Courchesne, Marie-Ève Morency, Michelle Desrochers, and Vincent Bolduc. (St Laurent TV)

LES SŒURS DUFOUR-LAPOINTE: D’UN RÊVE À L’AUTRE – Canal Vie
This documentary series explores the daily lives of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, three exceptional athletes dealing with the doubts and challenges that all of us have to face at some point. During the year of filming, the three women experienced some exciting developments that left them with some tough decisions to make. (KOTV)

L’HOMME QUI AIMAIT TROP – Noovo
This winter, viewers will be introduced to a new drama by Anne Boyer and Michel d’Astous, with a cast that includes Patrice Godin, Hélène Florent, Fanny Malette, and Nadia Kounds. The series tells the story of Marc-Alexandre, who suffers a terrible accident. In the hospital, while hovering between life and death, those close to him discover a disturbing secret: unknown to all, Marc-André is leading a double life with another wife and family. He even has a young lover. How could this be possible? And what if it wasn’t an accident at all? (Duo Productions)

…MOI NON PLUS! – Noovo
Catherine-Anne Toupin and Vincent Leclerc stars in this comedy-drama set in the world of Quebec media and politics. The pair play Sarah, a down-on-her-luck politician, and Christian, a commentator viewed as her biggest critic, who co-host a radio show. Through their fiery debates, they develop an attraction for each other, which throws a wrench in their life and career plans. The cast also includes Pierre Curzi, Christiane Pasquier, Frédéric Pierre, Alice Pascual, Shelby Jean-Baptiste, Sarah-Maxine Racicot, and Dylan Walsh. The series is based on an original idea by Catherine-Anne Toupin, who scripted it along with Karina Goma. (Encore Télévision)

MONTRÉAL SOUS SURVEILLANCE – Canal D
This new documentary series takes viewers behind-the-scenes of public security. Starting from the security operations centre, it explores various Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal CIUSSS service points, ranging from a hospital to a vaccination clinic, as well as youth centres and emergency services available to the public. Viewers will witness the human dramas that the centre’s agents deal with on a daily basis. (Attraction Images)

PEUR DE RIEN! – Z
Accompanied by a celebrity guest, Babu heads for a town in Quebec in search of the province’s greatest daredevils. Together, they identify three candidates, who will do everything in their power to impress the judges. However, only one will mount the top of the podium and be crowned “the town’s greatest daredevil!” (Attraction Images)

PRÉSUMÉ INNOCENT: L’AFFAIRE MICHELLE PERRON – Canal D
Marie-Claude Savard and Sébastien Trudel launch a new investigation into a legal case that gripped Quebec in 1987. Michelle Perron was found dead in her car near her workplace, her body brutally stabbed. Her husband, director Gilles Perron, was on the scene. He was accused then found innocent of the murder. The killer’s identity remains a mystery 33 years later. Marie-Claude and Sébastien revisit this murky case in the hope of revealing the truth behind the gruesome murder. (Trinome & Filles)

PROCHAIN STAND-UP: CLASSE DE MAÎTRE – Z
A dozen promising participants from the first season of Noovo’s hit show PROCHAIN STAND-UP pursue their stand-up apprenticeship under the watchful eye of P-A Méthot. Each comic will be asked to take part in two different shows, where they perform an original routine based on a specific instruction devised by their mentor. At the end of the show, the audience will choose their favourite comedian. (Juste pour rire TV)

QUI SAIT CHANTER? – Noovo
Hosted by comedian Phil Roy, QUI SAIT CHANTER? is the Quebec version of the world’s most popular musical gameshow, I CAN SEE YOUR VOICE. Each week, Roy accompanies contestants through every round of this exciting, variety-style gameshow. QUI SAIT CHANTER? is the only show where you can win by discovering people with and without talent! Canadian singer Roxane Bruneau and Rita Baga (CANADA’S DRAG RACE and BIG BROTHER CELEBRITÉS) serve as regular panellists. The series has been adapted in 16 markets around the world. (Productions ToRoS)

SYNDICS – Noovo
This documentary series provides a rare glimpse behind-the-scenes of a fascinating but little-known profession: bankruptcy trustees. Each story of debt featured on the show shines a light on human nature and our relationship with money through the trustee offices and their advisors, the personal lives of the people involved, and the real-life situations that unfold. With its highly authentic and intimate approach, the show makes it impossible to remain indifferent to these deeply affecting accounts. (PIXCOM)

VIRAGE – Noovo
Noovo’s first drama series, VIRAGE, showcases a standout cast including Charlotte Aubin, Émile Schneider, Marie-Thérèse Fortin, and Sylvain Marcel. It tells the story of a three-time Olympic medallist who retires and breaks up with her boyfriend at the same time. Left with nothing, the athlete discovers that life is not a race whose outcome you can control, and must get used to living without striving to win. The series draws inspiration from the true story of Marianne St-Gelais—who serves as series consultant—and several Olympians. It is scripted by Kim Lévesque-Lizotte and Marie-Hélène Lebeau-Taschereau, with additional contributions by Louis Morissette. (KOTV)

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Preview: Food Network’s Cheese: A Love Story is a tasty treat

Cheese and I have been involved in our own love story since high school. It was then that I graduated from cheese slices—which I still highly enjoy, by the way—to gooey brie, stinky blue and nutty Swiss. Since then, I’ve enjoyed countless kinds of cheese and I love them all.

Afrim Pristine knows exactly how I—and so, so many others—feel. Heck, he’s made a career out of it. Now Afrim, the world’s youngest Maître Fromager (cheese master) and owner of Toronto’s Cheese Boutique, is delving deep into the world of cheese in Cheese: A Love Story.

Debuting on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Food Network Canada, the six-part documentary kicks off in Switzerland, where Afrim does a deep dive into how land, animals and their milk create something wonderful. Once there, Afrim meets with chefs, cheesemakers and vendors to learn the fine art of aging. In the area of the world known for Gruyère, raclette, fondue and the famous Swiss Emmental, Afrim discovers how these classic cheeses stand the test of time and discovers the modern approaches the Swiss have innovated in the world of cheesemaking.

Afrim is an affable host, equally at home serving as the viewers’ guide and as the student learning from the masters. He expounds on the history of cheesemaking in Gruyère and offers tips on amping up your mac and cheese or burger (hint: Gruyère). Then it’s on to Verbier, where Afrim gets a crash course in raclette and the strict rules surrounding its aging and sale, and gets his hands dirty milking a cow.

Future episodes follow Afrim on his culinary journey to France and Greece, Toronto, Quebec and British Columbia.

Cheese: A Love Story airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Food Network Canada.

Image courtesy of Food Network Canada.

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