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Writers Guild of Canada ratifies new agreement

From a media release:

Canadian screenwriters and producers have a new collective agreement governing English-language screenwriting in Canada. The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) announced today their members have ratified the new Independent Production Agreement (IPA), which will come into effect on May 22, 2024. This agreement sets the terms, conditions, and rates for writers, story editors, and story consultants until January 31, 2027.

As part of the newly ratified agreement, live action script fees will increase by 5 per cent, 4 per cent, and 3.5 per cent over the next three years. Animation script fees will increase by 5 per cent, 11.5 per cent, and 3.6 per cent over the same period. A minimum staffing provision was negotiated, requiring two Story Editors to be engaged during the bulk of principal photography on productions commencing on or after January 1, 2025, for one-hour productions with budgets over $2.5M per episode and half-hour productions with budgets over $1.5M per episode. Artificial Intelligence (AI) protections were also negotiated, requiring producers to disclose and contract under the IPA when providing writers with AI-generated materials, as well as no reduction in existing writer credit or compensation. Expanded protections against discrimination and harassment in the workplace were also negotiated.

“We are pleased to have negotiated meaningful protections and fee increases for our members,” says WGC Executive Director Victoria Shen. “These achievements would not have been possible without the solidarity demonstrated by our membership. Special thanks to the Negotiating Committee, who volunteered months of their time, passionately represented the interests of screenwriters, and stood their ground to reach this deal.”

“Bargaining this agreement was extremely challenging but it has resulted in a more united and engaged membership,” says Bruce Smith, President of the WGC. “Our work will continue on many fronts, including fighting for equal compensation and protections for animation writers, advocating for a better funding system to address the needs of feature film writers, and ensuring our industry can flourish.”


TSN mourns the passing of Darren Dutchyshen

From a media release:

Following the passing of beloved Canadian broadcaster and longtime host of TSN’s SPORTSCENTRE Darren Dutchyshen, TSN has released the following statement:

“Darren Dutchyshen was a legend of Canadian sports broadcasting, a great teammate, and an essential part of TSN for the last three decades,” said Stewart Johnston, Senior Vice President, Sales & Sports, Bell Media. “A larger-than-life personality, Darren’s incredible sense of humour and magnetic energy made him a natural broadcaster who connected easily with viewers. His enthusiasm reminded us every day of why we love sports. Most significantly, Darren was a friend to all of us at TSN, and we will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with his loved ones.”

“He passed as he was surrounded by his closest loved ones,” the Dutchyshen family said. “His sharp wit remained until his final moments, classically delivering plenty of jokes – most of them pretty good and all of them inappropriate.”

One of Canada’s most popular and engaging sports personalities, Dutchyshen began his TSN career in 1995, hosting weekend editions of SportsDesk and CFL Live.

Dutchyshen became a beloved mainstay on TSN’s flagship news program over the next three decades, often hosting late-night editions of SPORTSCENTRE alongside co-anchor Rod Smith and later with Jennifer Hedger.

Dutchyshen played a key role in the Kraft Celebration Tour, taking SPORTSCENTRE on the road across the country for several consecutive summers, and was the co-host of the boxing show In This Corner with Canadian trainer and cut man Russ Anber. He also hosted Olympic Prime Time on TSN during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Born in Regina and raised in Porcupine Plain, Sask., Dutchyshen’s first job as a sportscaster was with STV in Saskatoon, followed by a stint with IMTV in Dauphin, Man. He also spent seven years as the host of ITV’s Sports Night in Edmonton.

Viewers can watch TSN’s tribute to Darren Dutchyshen at TSN.ca.

Tonight (Thursday, May 16) in SPORTSCENTRE at 6 p.m. ET, TSN features a series of tributes to Dutchyshen, including a discussion of memories from some of his closest colleagues.


Canadian screenwriters and independent producers reach terms on new Independent Production Agreement

From a media release:

Today, the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) and the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) jointly announced the successful conclusion of negotiations, resulting in an agreement in principle on the terms for a new Independent Production Agreement. The CMPA-WGC Independent Production Agreement establishes the terms, conditions, and rates for writers, story editors, and story consultants.

“We are pleased to have reached a fair agreement with the CMPA that will protect the livelihoods of our screenwriter members and maintain stability in the Canadian film and television industry,” said Victoria Shen, WGC Executive Director. “We feel the new agreement includes important protections for Canadian screenwriters and balances the concerns of our producer partners.”

“We are proud to have come to terms on an agreement that truly values the important alliance that exists between Canadian screenwriters and independent producers,” said Sean Porter, the CMPA’s Vice-President of National Industrial Relations and Counsel. “I want to thank the individuals on both sides of the bargaining table for their commitment to finding solutions that serve to benefit the future of our sector and Canadian storytelling on screen.”

The terms for the new three-year Independent Production Agreement will be sent to the CMPA’s Board of Directors, and distributed by the WGC, for ratification. The current agreement expired on December 31, 2023.


Writers vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike authorization

From a media release:

Today the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) announced that its members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of authorizing strike action if there is no resolution in its negotiations with the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA). An unprecedented 96.5 per cent voted in favour of a strike mandate during a week-long voting period, which also marked the highest voter turnout in Guild history at 70.2 per cent of eligible voters.

“This strike authorization vote, a first in the Guild’s 33-year history, represents a pivotal moment for Canadian screenwriters,” said WGC Executive Director Victoria Shen. “It underscores our members’ commitment to securing fair compensation and meaningful AI protections in an ever-evolving industry.

“While a strong strike mandate does not necessarily mean we will strike, it tells the producers we are ready to defend ourselves if necessary. We remain committed to negotiating a fair agreement for our members.”

The strike authorization vote came after nearly six months of negotiations aimed at renewing the Independent Production Agreement (IPA) between the WGC and the CMPA. WGC members have been working without a new contract since December 31, 2023.

The WGC has been fighting for an agreement that will protect the livelihoods of its members and preserve a future for screenwriters in Canada. To date, the parties have not been able to negotiate meaningful protections for both live action and animation writers against AI, reasonable compensation for animation writers, or secure minimum participation of screenwriters during production of television series.

“Our members understand what’s at stake in these negotiations, and I am proud of the strength of their support in this vote,” said Alex Levine, President of the WGC. “We cannot let producers devalue us and our work. We are standing strong and together to secure a future for Canadian screenwriters.”

The WGC remains committed to reaching a fair agreement with producers and keeping the industry working. Currently, the Guild is confirming dates when all parties can get back to addressing the outstanding issues.


The Squeaky Wheel: Canada set to debut June 24 on AMI-tv and AMI+

From a media release:

Be Loud. Be Disabled. Be Squeaky. AMI is pleased to announce that Season 1 of The Squeaky Wheel: Canada will debut Monday, June 24, at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv and AMI+.

Based on Steven Verdile’s popular web publication The Squeaky Wheel and produced by Hitsby Entertainment, The Squeaky Wheel: Canada is an eight-episode satirical, half-hour news format which pokes fun at the ableist society people with disabilities face every day.

Directed by Lucy Belgum and Tobi Abdul, the series stars Graham Kent and Gaitrie Persaud as lead anchors Grant Gewürztraminer and Arianna Salara. The ensemble cast of Margaret Rose, Samantha Wyss, Sivert Das, Wesley Magee-Saxton and Yousef Kadoura are on the scene, ready to take on absurd situations and characters, including flipping the script and embodying obnoxious able-bodied/neurotypical personalities.

Rounding out the troupe is stand-up comedian Courtney Gilmour (Canada’s Got Talent) as the cantankerous January Knougho from Organizational Operations Practices and Standards (a.k.a. O.O.P.S.) to give Arianna and Grant the what’s what from the control room.

Each week, Canadian guest stars from the disability community make a splash, including social media influencers Taylor Lindsay-Noel (Mind Your Own Business), who portrays a pivotal witness to a porch pirate theft; Madison Tevlin (Champions, Who Do You Think I Am?), playing a frustrated marketing executive; and Lil’ Gabi D (Fashion Dis) as a winner of “Little in Public Bingo,” setting a record for most ableist experiences in a day.

Additionally, AMI’s own Kelly MacDonald, co-host of Kelly & Ramya, appears in two Season 1 sketches. In the first, he appears in an action film trailer spoof—alongside stand-up comedian and writer Daniel Barra-Berger—as one of two men who cross paths, and canes, as white cane users. In the second, Kelly puts his voice skills to use as a home buyer in a sketch that pokes fun at adding described video to adult movies.

As previously announced, the series is presented by Canada’s top writers and performers from the disability community. The Squeaky Wheel: Canada’s irreverent perspective flips tropes and clichés upside down by showcasing disability in a humorous way. Its clever blend of social commentary and provocative humour will leave audiences laughing hysterically and feeling pleasurably guilty about it.

The eight-episode series introduces a fresh perspective to the entertainment landscape with its disability-led creative team, fronted by series producer Michelle Asgarali.

The writing team includes D. Cole, Daniel Barra-Berger, Jenny Lee-Gilmore and Sierra Haynes, and many story contributors with diverse perspectives across the disability community.

The Squeaky Wheel: Canada debuts Monday, June 24, at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv and available for streaming on AMI+.