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TV, Eh? Industry Update – CBC cuts, Last of the Dragons, State of Syn, more

CBC operating budget cut by $115 million

It’s the worst-kept secret in Canadian television. By 2014-15, CBC’s operating budget will shed $115 million, as part of Canada’s 2012 federal budget. In the same timeframe, Telefilm Canada will shed $10.6 million, while the National Film Board of Canada will shed $6.7 million. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is relatively lucky, as a $400,000 funding reduction is on tap for 2013–14.

CBC sent a press release on March 29, 2012. The press release states that its 2015: Everyone, Every way strategy will work around the budget reductions. Lobby groups and unions aren’t quite as sanguine about CBC’s budget cuts, including the Canadian Media Guild, ACTRA, and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies applauds the budget cuts, as the CCPS calls for CBC’s “inevitable privatization.”

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Arctic Air’s director/producer Gary Harvey on moving forward and giving back

Executive producer and director Gary Harvey has just come off a solid first season for Arctic Air — the most-watched debut season for a CBC drama series in 15 years. While he waits on news of a season two, he answered some questions about his career, his unusual role as a director/showrunner, and how giving back to the industry is a survival mechanism.

What do you think it was about that show at this time that caught the attention of an audience?

(Creator) Ian Weir always meant for Arctic Air to be a bit of a throwback to the classic adventure series. Imminent peril is obviously a big theme throughout and we deliver on those types of stories. There is also the environmental dilemma faced by the north and we touch on that through the relationship between Adam Beach’s character Bobby and the Ronnie Dearman character, played wonderfully by Brian Markinson.

We tend not to hang our stories on sex or violence episode to episode, although we don’t shy away from it when appropriate. I have been surprised by some of the audience’s responses describing the show as family viewing. It always seemed a bit darker than that in my mind but perhaps we’re tapping into something that is counter to our expectation of family viewing today.

Having said that, the show is also fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think all those elements have resonated with audiences.

I also think that opening a window on a physical environment few people “south of 60” have experienced vis-à-vis the NWT has been a big piece of the puzzle. The north is a very interesting place, exotic in many ways. During my first trip to Yellowknife I knew how big it was going to be for the audience to experience as much of the world of the NWT as possible. I think we were quite successful delivering on that promise.

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David Barlow on the Toronto Screenwriting Conference & the past and future of Canadian TV


David Barlow (King, The Border, Seeing Things) is one of the speakers at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference on March 31 and April 1. He tells TV, eh? about his early big break, how storytelling has changed over the years, and his wish list for Canadian television.

First, tell me about the Toronto Screenwriting Conference – what do you hope to convey there, and what do you hope to get out of it? What role do conferences like this play in career development?

Bill Mustos, the moderator for our panel on procedurals, has posed the key question: “What distinguishes your series and makes it different from other procedural series?”

It’ll be interesting to hear four different producer/writers respond to this question. It’s really a fundamental consideration when embarking on developing a procedural series, given the deep history of the genre and the competition with the number of procedurals on air.

I’ll talk a bit about The Border and King, two distinctly different procedurals, and how the creators of those shows tried to create fresh and specific personalities for their series. And I’ll probably throw in my two cents worth about what makes for a successful series.

What do I hope to get out of it? Well, selfishly, I usually learn more than I impart at these conferences. The basics of screenwriting are comparatively simple, it’s the execution that’s complex and demanding. No matter what side of the podium I’m sitting on, I always welcome the opportunity to hear how others address the challenges — what methodologies they use, what questions they ask themselves — it’s like taking a refresher course. What’s more, having to describe my own approach forces me to reflect on my own process. A little self-analysis can be a good thing.

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TV, Eh? Industry Roundup – Beywheelz, CRTC, eOne, NSI Canada

Beywheelz debuts in North America

Beywheelz, a spinoff of the Beyblade series, is formally announced by Nelvana. Beywheelz is one of Nelvana’s MIPTV offerings, which include Trucktown, two seasons of Detentionaire, Franklin and Friends‘ second season, and Mr. Young‘s second season.

According to I Miss Bionix, Beyblade: Metal Fury is an English-language adaptation of d-rights’/Nelvana’s Metal Fight Beyblade 4D, which saw its Japanese episode length halved in 2011, after 26 episodes. This was to accommodate Cross Fight B-Daman, leaving Nelvana with 39 half-hour episodes of Beyblade: Metal Fury. Beywheelz combines with Beyblade: Metal Fury, to make a 52-episode order.

In 2002, Nelvana gained wide-ranging North and South American, Oceanian, as well as most European, rights to Beyblade. The Beyblade toy was successfully reintroduced in North America by Nelvana, in 2009.

Beywheelz, by the way, are small “battling” tires. I wish I could sell that concept better, but then, Beyblades are small “battling” tops.

Continue reading TV, Eh? Industry Roundup – Beywheelz, CRTC, eOne, NSI Canada


WGC Nominee Aubrey Nealon on Flashpoint’s “Day Game”

Aubrey Head Shot

Leading up to the Writers Guild of Canada awards on April 23, TV, eh? will be posting a series of interviews with some of nominees. Aubrey Nealon was nominated in the TV Drama category for the “Day Game” episode of Flashpoint — one of four nominations in the category for the series, and his first ever TV script.

Can you describe the episode “Day Game” and how it fit into the Flashpoint season?

In “Day Game,” Team One is confronted by a bitter ex-cop named Gil whose life went off the rails when Parker rejected him from the force’s top unit, the SRU. Determined to prove himself, Gil orchestrates a heist at a stadium so that he can step in and save the day. Naturally things go violently haywire, and as the Team arrives to restore order, Gil gets Parker in his clutches. As the Team scrambles to rescue their boss, Parker is forced into a tense negotiation with a desperate and vengeful Gil. With his life on the line, the usually unflappable Parker erupts in an outpouring of pain and self-doubt that’s been building all season, leaving him questioning his ability to do his job.

What about this episode are you particularly proud of?

This was the first TV script I ever wrote, so I’m pretty proud that it got made at all. Like, someone put it on TV! That’s really cool.

But in terms of the writing itself, I did enjoy creating the character Gil, a guy who is intimately familiar with the SRU’s techniques and tendencies, and holds a deep, personal grudge against Parker. He makes for a fun and formidable opponent, I think — because it’s almost as if he’s watched the show before. He plays with the Team’s expectations about how critical incidents unfold, which allows me to play with the audience’s expectations about how Flashpoint unfolds — all while staying true to the spirit of the show.

What does this recognition mean to you?

A couple years ago I crashed the WGC awards party (paying the full $100 non-union entrance fee!) so that I could corner the Flashpoint showrunners, Mark and Stephanie, and grovel for a job. This year, thanks to this recognition, I’ll get into the party much more cheaply, and Mark and Stephanie will be obliged to talk to me whether I grovel or not.