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marblemedia and Fae Pictures partner to develop an original political drama, Salt

From a media release:

marblemedia and Fae Pictures are excited to announce they are in development on an original, primetime political family drama series Salt, from creator Abdul Malik (NBC’s Transplant, Peace by Chocolate). marblemedia acquired the project earlier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Series Accelerator program.

Salt follows a young man, Mohammad “Mo” Akram, raised by a wealthy Muslim family reeling from a scandal that’s decimated America’s working class. Seeking to make amends for his father’s sins, Mo takes a job as a ‘salt’ and must infiltrate and covertly unionize an opulent international hotel chain in Chicago from the inside, making vulnerable the workers he is seeking to protect and threatening his politically-influential family.

A “salt” is defined as a labour union tactic involving the act of getting a job at a specific workplace with the intent of organizing a union. The person employed to do so is called a “salt”. This series will both entertain and expose the resurgent labour movement currently sweeping America. Today’s modern-day labour awakening will be on full display with this underlying IP as this original series will offer authenticity in a fictional world shaped by Malik’s personal insights working within the labour movement for a decade, within the worlds of salting, organizing, and storytelling.

Recently selected for Playback Magazine’s 10 to Watch, 29-year-old prolific screenwriter Abdul Malik spent a decade on the front lines of labour and environmental movements as a documentarian while he studied film. That led to co-writing the feature film, Peace By Chocolate, which premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. He is now garnering attention as a screenwriter recently having written on NBC’s Transplant; as well as two feature films, Streams Flow from a River and Queen Tut.

“A series like this is really close to my heart. It aims to do nothing less than articulate the thrilling world of labour unions, a world I know intimately while speaking to the urgent issues and incredible uplift we’ve seen working-class people achieve over the last few years by fighting for their rights. The series explores power in all its forms, and knows the moral complexities of its world in a way that makes for rapt television,” shared Abdul Malik, series creator.

“We are thrilled to add Salt to marblemedia’s ever-expanding content slate. After meeting Abdul, hearing his story and reading his voice, we knew this was a project we needed to be a part of. The series is aligned with our mandate to share stories that are rooted in authentic voices that are bold, inspiring and have a positive impact. We are proud to develop IP about topics that provoke conversation and galvanize change, while captivating audiences who covet smart, propulsive entertainment”, says Carrie Paupst Shaughnessy, VP Scripted at marblemedia. Adding, “We are looking to attract top producing partners, international talent and a showrunner who will align with Abdul’s creative vision.”

“On our mission to decolonize Hollywood, Salt comes in as a series that shatters our expectations of a political drama featuring an affluent and influential Muslim family against the backdrop of the struggles of America’s working class,” says Shant Joshi, president of Fae Pictures.

Salt is co-produced by marblemedia and Fae Pictures. Malik is repped by META Talent Agency.


Saloon Media acquires rights to Shaun Hamill’s debut novel A Cosmology of Monsters

From a media release:

Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Media production company, announced today it has acquired the rights to Shaun Hamill’s highly-reviewed, debut novel, A Cosmology of Monsters. The scripted and factual producer will adapt the book into an ongoing one-hour dramatic series (8×60), expanding the company’s growth into scripted development.

A Cosmology of Monsters follows the Turner family as they operate an immersive haunted house experience. While struggling to keep their business afloat, dealing with the challenges of adolescence, and fighting to keep their family united, the Turners begin to realize there is something more sinister at their door … real monsters.

Named one of the best books of 2019 by Esquire, The Nerd Daily and The New York Public Library, Shaun Hamill’s horror debut received critical acclaim with Stephen King’s endorsement: “If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it.”

Serving as Creator and Executive Producer on the series is Caitlin D. Fryers (Wynonna Earp, Endlings, Private Eyes). Fryers is best known for writing on all four seasons of SYFY’s fan favourite Wynonna Earp. She was the first Canadian to win the Sir Peter Ustinov Award for Scriptwriting from the International Emmys. Nominated for two Writers Guild of Canada Awards, Fryers has written for SYFY, Lifetime, Global, CBC, Hulu and Hallmark. Fryers is represented by Meridian Artists. Also serving as Executive Producer are Melissa Williamson and Michael Kot of Saloon Media and author, Shaun Hamill.

Shaun Hamill received his BA in English from the University of Texas at Arlington and his MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut novel, A Cosmology of Monsters, was published in 2019 and his second novel, The Dissonance is forthcoming from Pantheon books. Hamill is represented by Echo Lake on behalf of Kent Wolf of Neon Literary.

Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Media company, is a leading producer of scripted and unscripted content. Based in Toronto, Canada, Saloon Media has an international track record for delivering successful, award-winning programs.


Blink49 Studios partners with Vanguarde Artists Management and Vanguarde Pictures to launch first-of-its-kind joint venture in Canada

From a media release:

Blink49 Studios, backed by FIFTH SEASON (formerly known as Endeavor Content) and Canada’s leading representation company, Vanguarde Artists Management have partnered to launch a joint venture to develop and produce content for the global market.

In a first-of-its-kind deal in Canada, the joint venture brings together Vanguarde’s access to creative talent and IP to develop and produce original projects with Blink49’s world-class studio, production and distribution infrastructure. Under the joint venture, Blink49 will also provide development funding to build a slate of projects with Vanguarde and its clients. Blink49 and Vanguarde will serve as co-producers on all projects developed and produced through the deal, with FIFTH SEASON having a first look on international distribution rights.

The announcement comes after Vanguarde recently tapped award-winning playwright and television creator/showrunner Adam Pettle as in-house Executive Producer of its newly formed content label Vanguarde Pictures. Alongside Co-Heads Tina Horwitz and Jay Horwitz, Pettle will develop scripted content for podcast, broadcast, cable, premium cable, and streaming services under the new banner.

“We’re so thrilled to be embarking on this exciting venture with Tina and Jay and the team at Vanguarde,” said John Morayniss, CEO, Blink49 Studios. “With a stellar client roster and a thoughtful, strategic and creative approach to supporting their clients, Vanguarde is the perfect partner for this joint venture that will provide development funding and studio support for a slate of projects that we will bring to a global market. And, with the launch of Vanguarde Pictures with Adam Pettle joining as an executive producer, this joint venture is set up to be prolific.”

“We are very excited to be working with John and the incredible team at Blink49 in this new venture. From our initial discussions to now, we’ve found a common cause in our approach and desire to establish and support opportunities for Canadian creative talent on a larger platform,” said Tina Horwitz and Jay Horwitz, Co-Heads of Vanguarde Artists Management. “This partnership enables us access to Blink49’s considerable studio infrastructure as well as the wealth of knowledge and global reach that John and his team bring to the table. Of course, we’ll continue to work with our key third-party producers and production company collaborators to always seek the best-aligned opportunities for our clients and their projects.”

Blink49 Studios is a content venture with FIFTH SEASON as its anchor investor and lead strategic partner. Focusing heavily on a creative-first approach, Blink49 Studios is dedicated to partnering with best-in-class writers, creators and producers, as well as actively pursuing IP in Canada and throughout the world. The indie studio is committed to applying significant resources to support new and diverse Canadian voices.

Co-founded in 2021 by industry veterans CEO John Morayniss, Non-Executive Vice Chair Patrice Theroux, COO Jeff Lynas and CFO Nelson Kuo-Lee, Blink49 Studios is a full-service indie studio focused on the development, production, and monetization of premium scripted and unscripted content for a global market. Headquartered in Toronto with offices in Los Angeles, Blink49 Studios was formed in partnership with its anchor investor and lead strategic partner FIFTH SEASON (formerly Endeavor Content). With a combined experience of innovative deal-making and strong relationships in the creative community, Blink49 Studios takes a content-first approach by partnering with best-in-class writers, creators, producers, and talent as well as supporting new and diverse voices.

Tina Horwitz (Co-Head/Manager) founded Vanguarde in 2002 and has established a tradition among the company’s representatives including Jay Horwitz (Co-Head/Manager), Amy Stulberg (SVP/Manager), Adam Pettle (Executive Producer) and Nikki Kipp (Agent) of thoughtful, caring, and intelligent representation of Canada’s most sought-after showrunners, screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, line producers, editors, production designers, and composers. With a select roster, extensive producer and broadcaster relationships across Canada, and strategic alliances internationally, Vanguarde is uniquely positioned to build, grow, and individually shape each of their clients’ careers. The Vanguarde team prides itself on representing artists at all stages of their career from emerging to veteran and everything in between.

FIFTH SEASON is a global leader in the creation, production, and distribution of feature films and premium television series. Known for producing and distributing award-winning content that engages audiences and moves culture, the studio’s film titles include the multi-Oscar-nominated THE LOST DAUGHTER from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Bay’s AMBULANCE, Destin Daniel Cretton’s JUST MERCY, the BOOK CLUB franchise, and recent Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH. The studio produces premium TV series, including the 14 Emmy-nominated Severance, See and Truth Be Told for Apple TV+, Wolf Like Me for Peacock, Life & Beth, Nine Perfect Strangers, and McCartney 3, 2, 1 for Hulu, Tokyo Vice for HBO Max, and Scenes From A Marriage for HBO. FIFTH SEASON also handles global distribution for dozens of hit series in addition to its own studio productions, including Killing Eve, The Morning Show, Normal People, and The Night Manager.


Comedy veteran Zoe Rabnett joins Counterfeit Pictures as Director of Talent and Comedy Development

From a media release:

Counterfeit Pictures is thrilled to announce today that the Toronto-based production company specializing in scripted and non-scripted television comedy projects has hired Zoe Rabnett as Director of Talent and Comedy Development, effective immediately. Rabnett, a mainstay of Canada’s comedy scene, recently wrapped up her long-held position with Montreal’s Just For Laughs as Director of Canadian and International Programming. She previously held positions at Diamondfield Entertainment, where she produced and booked the Rivoli’s famed ALTdot COMedy Lounge for 10 years.

While at Just For Laughs, Rabnett was responsible for finding and booking comedy talent from Canada and around the world for the prestigious festival, as well as for the organization’s tours and TV specials. It was in this capacity that she first collaborated with the Counterfeit Pictures team, acting as a producer on Counterfeit/Just For Laughs co-productions of Roast Battle Canada (CTV Comedy), Comedy Night With Rick Mercer (CBC), The Stand Up Show (CTV Comedy), and a variety of stand up specials for Crave.

Counterfeit Pictures was established in 2013 by partners Anton Leo, Shane Corkery, and Dan Bennett, who rallied together around the goal of amplifying and creating platforms for Canadian comic talent. The company’s past projects include the award-winning Sunnyside (CityTV/FX Canada), Dark Cargo (YouTube Premium) and the mockumentary Decoys (CBC Gem). Counterfeit is also currently in post- production on the new scripted half-hour comedy SHELVED for CTV, created by award-winning showrunner Anthony Q. Farrell (Overlord and the Underwoods, The Office) and slated to premiere in 2023.

About Zoe Rabnett
Zoe knows and loves Canadian comedy. As a junior agent right out of university at Diamondfield Entertainment, she learned about representing comedians for commercial, television and film work. At the same time, she began producing live shows, booking, and running the weekly ALTdot COMedy Lounge at The Rivoli in Toronto for 10 years. Prior to Counterfeit, in her position as Director of Canadian & International Programming at Just For Laughs, Zoe was responsible for finding and booking the best comedy talents from across Canada and from around the world. Scouting talent year-round, Zoe programmed countless festivals, tours, and TV productions. The scope of her scouting was enormous, and included cross-Canada showcases yearly as well as internationally, at the Edinburgh Fringe and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In the past two years, she assembled and worked with hundreds of comedians to create more than 25 audio albums under the Just For Laughs Originals label. She has been a producer on the Counterfeit / Just For Laughs co-productions of Roast Battle Canada (CTV Comedy), Comedy Night with Rick Mercer (CBC), The Stand Up Show (CTV Comedy) and a variety of stand-up specials for Crave. Zoe’s passion and enthusiasm for Canadian comedy is her focus as she seeks out unique and funny voices to collaborate with.

About Counterfeit Pictures
Counterfeit Pictures was established by Anton Leo, Shane Corkery and Dan Bennett. Their credits include the award-winning Sunnyside (CityTV/FX Canada), Dark Cargo (YouTube Premium) and the mockumentary Decoys (CBC Gem). They have also produced, in association with Just For Laughs, six stand-up comedy specials, including Mark Forward Wins All the Awards and Debra Digiovanni: Here’s the Thing (Crave). Most recently, they co-produced a new season of The Stand-up Show with Jon Dore (CTV Comedy), three seasons of Roast Battle Canada (CTV Comedy) and Comedy Night with Rick Mercer (CBC). They are currently in post-production on Shelved from creator Anthony Q Farrell (CTV).


Award-winning journalist Vassy Kapelos joins CTV News as host of flagship political series Power Play and Question Period

From a media release:

CTV News announced today that award-winning journalist Vassy Kapelos has been named Chief Political Correspondent, and is set to host CTV News Channel’s marquee daily political program POWER PLAY, as well as QUESTION PERIOD, CTV’s weekly political program of record, effective December 1.

Additionally, Kapelos hosts the all-new radio program THE VASSY KAPELOS SHOW, airing weekday afternoons from 12 – 2 p.m. ET across iHeartRadio Canada Talk Network stations, including CJAD 800 Montréal, 580 CFRA Ottawa, NEWSTALK 1010 Toronto, 610 CKTB St. Catharines, 1290 CJBK London, AM800 CKLW Windsor, AM1150 Kelowna, CFAX 1070 Victoria. All iHeartRadio Canada stations are available across the country via live stream on iHeartRadio.ca and the iHeartRadio Canada app.

Kapelos has extensive experience covering federal and provincial politics in Canada. Prior to joining CTV News, Kapelos was host of CBC’s POWER & POLITICS. Previously, she was Global News’ Ottawa Bureau Chief and host of THE WEST BLOCK. Before working in Ottawa, Vassy covered provincial politics in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Kapelos is a two-time Canadian Screen Award winner for Best Live Production, Social Media (2020), for CBC’s coverage of the B.C. by-election that saw Jagmeet Singh win his seat in Parliament, and Best Talk Program or Series (2021), for POWER & POLITICS.

She also received the 2021 Leitch Lecture Award from the University of Alberta and University of Calgary’s faculties of Law after delivering a lecture on the political effect of the COVID-19 health crisis in Canada.

Born in Toronto, Kapelos graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then from Dalhousie University with a Master of Arts.

POWER PLAY airs weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on CTV News Channel, CTVNews.ca, and the CTV News app. QUESTION PERIOD airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on CTV, CTV News Channel, CTV.ca, CTVNews.ca, and the CTV and CTV News apps (visit CTVNews.ca/QP for the program’s podcast and detailed listings on encore presentations). A radio broadcast of QUESTION PERIOD airs on iHeartRadio Canada Talk Network stations across the country (check local listings).