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Jesse Fawcett launches independent production company, Fireworks Media Group

From a media release:

Prolific award-winning television producer Jesse Fawcett has launched Fireworks Media Group, a North American-based production company to develop and produce premium unscripted and scripted content.

Fawcett is well known in the entertainment business as a co-founding partner of global content company Essential Media Group where he helmed North American operations until the company was successfully sold to Kew Media in 2018. In 2020, Fawcett and Greg Quail re-acquired the assets of Essential from Kew and relaunched as EQ Media Group. Now, Fawcett is poised to inaugurate his own venture, Fireworks Media Group, together with a cross-border team of veteran production professionals.

Under the new banner, the company is producing the new original series Pamela Anderson’s Home Reno Project (working title) for HGTV Canada with iconic Baywatch star Pamela Anderson returning to her Canadian roots to rebuild the family home of her dreams. The series is executive produced by Brandon Lee, Fawcett and Firework’s new President of Canada, Robert Hardy. Corus Studios will distribute the series internationally. Pamela Anderson is represented by Chris Smith at ICM Partners. Fireworks Media Group has also secured an exclusive first-look scripted development deal with social media sensation Kris Collins, who has amassed over 32 million followers and 1.4 billion likes.

In addition, Fireworks Media Group is currently in production on sophomore seasons of the real estate unscripted series Selling the Big Easy for HGTV in the US as well as Corus Studios’ Big Timber which airs on HISTORY in Canada and Netflix in the US and internationally. A top performer on HISTORY and Netflix, Big Timber. follows the high-stakes work of logger and sawmill owner Kevin Wenstob as he and his crew go to extremes to keep the family sawmill, and their way of life, alive.

Some of the other successful shows completed during Fawcett’s tenure at EQ Media Group include No Demo Reno which recently launched on HGTV as the #1 cable premiere in the Thursday 8-9pm timeslot, multi-season hit series Restored airing on Discovery+, the paranormal reality series Ghost Loop for Travel Channel and 165 episodes of Texas Flip N’ Move, perennial #1 series on DIY Network.

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CBC/Radio-Canada and Super Channel partner with the BBC on UK/Canada co-production The North Water, from See-Saw Films and Rhombus Media

From a media release:

CBC/Radio-Canada and Super Channel are partnering with the BBC to bring five-part Arctic nautical adventure THE NORTH WATER to Canadian audiences across the country. Commissioned by the BBC and CBC/Radio-Canada in association with Super Channel, THE NORTH WATER is a UK/Canada treaty co-production from Canada’s Rhombus Media and the UK’s See-Saw Films. Based on the critically acclaimed, best-selling novel by Ian McGuire, the immersive drama is adapted and directed by Andrew Haigh (45 Years, Looking) and stars BAFTA-winner Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, Godless), Golden Globe®-winning actor Colin Farrell (In Bruges, True Detective), and SAG Award-winner Stephen Graham (Line of Duty, Boardwalk Empire), together with an incredible ensemble cast that includes renowned Inuit actor Natar Ungalaaq (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner).

THE NORTH WATER will make its first Canadian debut on Super Channel Fuse on Sunday, September 19 at 9 p.m. ET with each episode available on Super Channel On Demand the day following its weekly linear broadcast, followed by wide release on CBC TV, CBC Gem, ICI TÉLÉ and ICI TOU.TV in fall 2022. Super Channel is available via most cable providers across the country, as well as Amazon Prime Video channels and the Apple TV app. THE NORTH WATER will premiere in the UK on BBC Two this fall, and is streaming on AMC+ in the U.S. this summer.

Set in the UK and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s, the series tells the story of Patrick Sumner (O’Connell), a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as the ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. But the ferocity of the elements is matched by the violence of his crew mates, including Drax (Farrell), a harpooner and distinctly brutal force of nature. As the true purpose of the expedition becomes clear, confrontation between the two men erupts, taking them on a journey far from solid ground and way beyond the safe moorings of civilization.

THE NORTH WATER was filmed primarily in Budapest and on the frozen seas north of the Svalbard Archipelago. The cast and production team sailed as far as 81 degrees north to film sequences in the pack ice, which is believed to be the furthest north a scripted drama series has ever filmed. While plans to shoot in Nunavut had to be curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a smaller local unit in Iqaluit stepped in to properly represent and authentically capture the vastness of the Canadian Arctic.

In July 2019, the BBC and CBC/Radio-Canada announced a commitment to collaborate across a range of different areas.

A BBC and CBC/Radio-Canada original series in association with Super Channel, THE NORTH WATER is produced by See-Saw Films and Rhombus Media and distributed internationally by BBC Studios.

Executive producers on the series are Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman for See-Saw Films, Niv Fichman for Rhombus Media, Jo McClellan for the BBC and writer/director Andrew Haigh. In addition, Rhombus Media’s Fraser Ash and Kevin Krikst are co-executive producers and Claude Paiement is co-producer on behalf of Montreal’s N63 Films. THE NORTH WATER is produced in association with the Canada Media Fund.

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Headspinner Productions has begun production on re-imagining of classic Canadian TV series Hilarious House of Frightenstein entitled Happy House of Frightenstein!

From a media release:

Headspinner Productions announces they have started production on the preschool animated series HAPPY HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN based on the beloved characters from the 1971 Canadian Classic series Hilarious House of Frightenstein. Timed with the 50th anniversary of the original series, 10 x 3 minute episodes will launch this fall for Halloween on the marbleKids YouTube channel, with the Canadian linear broadcast announcement to follow.

Headspinner principals Michelle Melanson (The Next Step, Fangbone!) and Ken Cuperus (Hudson and Rex, The Stanley Dynamic) will produce the series alongside creative partner Sandy Jobin-Bevans (Just Like Mom and Dad, The Parker-Andersons/Amelia Parker). Also on board as executive producer is original series producer and actor, Mitch Markowitz. Writers on the series include Diana Moore, Nisha Khan, Jan Caruana and Kara Harun. Original Art Design by Aaron Hong and Animation Services by Keyframe Digital Studios in St. Catharines, Ontario. Happy House of Frightenstein follows the misadventures of COUNT JR., WOLFIE, IGGY, AND GRIZ – the beloved characters from the original Hilarious House of Frightenstein, reimagined as wee children of the night – as they play, laugh, and grow together in the Happy House of Frightenstein, a giant castle-like play structure located in the charmingly spooky backyard of the iconic Castle Frightenstein.

The series was made possible with funding from the Canada Media Fund and the Shaw Rocket Fund through the CMF-SRF Kids Digital Animated Series program and support from marbleKids YouTube Channel and Distribution360, who will handle global distribution.

130 x 60 min episodes of Hilarious House of Frightenstein were produced in 1971 by brothers Riff and Mitch Markowitz in Hamilton, Ontario. It went on to be one of the longest running children’s shows in history, airing on CHCH, YTV, Showcase, Space and Drive In Classics in Canada alone. It currently airs on CRAVE in Canada. It also aired throughout the US and many European countries. Popular character actor, Billy Van, played most of the characters in the original, and legendary horror icon, Vincent Price, was also a major part of the original series.

Where to watch HAPPY HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN: marbleKids YouTube Channel.

marbleKids is an entertainment channel dedicated to delivering a variety of premium kids content.

Headspinner Productions is a full-service production company based in Toronto, Ontario helmed by award winning creator/writer/producers Ken Cuperus and Michelle Melanson.

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Morwyn Brebner and Andrew Akman launch Husk Media in partnership with Cineflix Media

From a media release:

Cineflix Media is teaming up with award-winning showrunner Morwyn Brebner and TV executive Andrew Akman to launch Husk Media, a new television production company.

Toronto-based Husk Media will develop and produce programming for broadcasters and streamers worldwide. With Brebner spearheading creative efforts and Akman leading commercial affairs, the company will focus on projects created by Brebner, as well as projects in partnership with emerging and established writers and showrunners.

Cineflix will provide Husk Media with start-up financing and operating support, and has a first-look to distribute the shingle’s content internationally. The new production company joins Cineflix’s growing joint venture lineup which includes Mirage producer Connect3 Media and International Emmy® Award-winning Marcella producer Buccaneer Media.

Most recently honoured as 2021 Showrunner of the Year by the Writers Guild of Canada, Morwyn Brebner has produced premium scripted television for networks and platforms around the world, and is behind some of the longest-running, most successful dramas ever produced in Canada. Brebner’s credits include creating global hit Coroner (CBC/The CW Network/NBCUniversal International Networks), as well as co-creating supernatural medical series Saving Hope (CTV/ION) and police drama Rookie Blue (ABC/Global Television).

Andrew Akman brings more than 20 years of experience in production, distribution, and broadcasting. He has held senior management positions at some of Canada’s largest media and entertainment companies and will be transitioning out of his current role as COO at Cineflix Media.

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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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