Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

Corus Studios announces three new docu-series ahead of MIPTV

Today, Corus Studios, a division of Corus Entertainment, introduces three new docu-series for international sale at MIPTV in Cannes. The company continues to grow its slate of distinct original series developed for its portfolio of Lifestyle channels, which feature an array of genres including travel and escape, fashion, automotive, cultural and factual content. New original series available at the international market this year include, Big Rig Warriors (10×30), Rust Valley Restorers (8×60), World Without (9×60) as well as previously announced new original shows Island of Bryan (13×60) and STITCHED (12×60). Additional broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

Newly greenlit original series available at MIPTV are as follows:

Big Rig Warriors (10×30) – Automotive/Docu-series
During the week they earn a living travelling North America’s highways behind the wheels of their big rig trucks. But in their downtime, they meet on tracks where they drive on their own terms – and usually at dangerously fast speeds. Follow five dynamic truckers and the families and friends who support them during the exciting racing season, amid exhaust, roaring engines and burning tires, on their quest to cross the finish line and be crowned the “fastest.” Whether they’re drag racing on the streets of cities or country towns, competing on traditional racing tracks, or going head to head in oval races in Las Vegas, they all share a common obsession: They race big trucks. And they race them fast. Produced by Attraction Images in association with Corus Studios for HISTORY®.

Rust Valley Restorers (8×60) – Automotive/Docu-series
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is one of the most unique car communities in the world, also known as “Rust Valley.” It can’t be missed: acres upon acres of old and abandoned cars; a junkyard as far as the eye can see. And at its heart is a remarkable restoration shop run by a team of colourful and charismatic characters who use their impressive skills and experience to restore, trade and sell classic cars – transforming piles of rust into collectible car treasures. Produced by Mayhem Entertainment in association with Corus Studios for HISTORY®.

World Without (9×60) – Pop History/Docu-series
This mind-bending and innovative series examines the butterfly effect of removing key individuals, ideas, inventions and influences from a given nation’s history in order to highlight what that country has contributed to global culture and human history. In each episode, the series imagines the world without a specific country – the United Kingdom, U.S.A., Italy, China, Germany, France –as their game-changing leaders, innovations and social-political achievements are erased from our shared timeline. What transpires? Global catastrophe, societal upheaval and chaos. Produced by Cream Productions in association with Corus Studios for HISTORY®.

Previously announced greenlit original series starting production this spring include:

Island of Bryan (13×60) – Travel/Renovation/Docu-series
Can two parents with four school-age kids drop out of their busy lives, move to a tropical island paradise for eight months and rebuild and restore a rundown beachfront resort? Contractor Bryan Baeumler and his wife Sarah are about to find out. It’s a huge personal and financial gamble, but they’re ready to take the renovation ride of their lives. After more than 10 years of building a construction empire, Bryan and Sarah are about to embark on an unforgettable family adventure thousands of miles from home. Will they turn a ramshackle resort in the Bahamas into a luxurious boutique retreat and make it a buoyant business venture? Is paradise really all it’s cracked up to be? Produced by Si Entertainment in association with Corus Studios for HGTV Canada.

STITCHED (12×60) – Fashion Competition Series
The deadlines are tight, the expectations are high and the judges are hard to please. STITCHED is a fierce original fashion competition series where a new wave of fashion designers match wits and stitches in an epic fashion throw-down in three rounds. In every high-style-meets-high-stakes episode, four competitors face off in dramatic themed challenges with one designer eliminated each round. Facing the oh-so-sharp resident judges and a new guest judge per episode, designers create ambitious outfits inspired by unique materials and concepts under tight timelines. In the end, one designer rises to the top with a couture-level creation that earns them the $10,000 prize. Fashion model Kim Cloutier hosts alongside style expert Joe Zee and ELLE Canada’s Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Craft. Produced by FORTÉ Entertainment in association with Corus Studios for SLICE™.

At MIPTV, Corus Studios will be represented by Rita Carbone Fleury, who will be overseeing the global sales of Corus’ original content slate.




Preview: Growing Sense adds gardening to AMI’s stable of original programs

Here in Southern Ontario, it appears winter is over. Squirrels are bounding all over the place, birds are waking me up and the crocuses in my front garden are in bloom. With the first day of spring officially arriving on March 20, AMI-tv is marking the occasion with the debut of its latest series, Growing Sense.

Airing Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on AMI-tv, each of Growing Sense‘s 10 episodes follow novice gardener Milena Khazanavicius and veteran ecological landscaper Rosmarie Lohnes as they build and tend an accessible garden plot in Halifax’s Common Roots Urban Farm. 

“I believe that when we heal the earth, we heal ourselves,” Lohnes says in the show’s opening credits. It’s sage advice. Viewers are first introduced to Khazanavicius, who once worked as a floral designer with dreams of opening her own shop before losing her sight at the age of 22. She and seeing eye dog Lewis hit up a local Halifax flower shop to nab some herbs for her balcony boxes. It’s at this store we learn Khazanavicius’ life story and the pleasure she derives from the smells and textures of flowers and plants. 

Lohnes, meanwhile, outlines her tale. The daughter of a miner who worked in Northern Ontario, childhoods were spent camping in the woods where she developed her “superpower.” Now she’s founded Helping Nature Heal, which restores sustainable ecosystems and connects people with nature.

The pair, introduced months ago, reunite with a bold plan: fill a community garden plot with plants and vegetables designed to reconnect Khazanavicius with her passion for plants while giving her food to augment her fixed income. Khazanavicius’ first challenge? Getting there.

Featuring integrated described video, Growing Sense is a wonderful addition to AMI’s quickly growing stable of original programming that is blind or partially sighted viewers but enjoyable by all.

Growing Sense airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on AMI-tv.

Image courtesy of AMI.




Brojects: Built for the Weekend creates epic items for cottage owners

I’m not a very handy guy. Yeah, I can drill a hole in a wall to hang a picture, re-screen a porch door, patch small-ish holes and paint a room, but that’s pretty much it. So it’s been a ton of fun to watch and marvel at Kevin and Andrew Buckles as they create wild items for their cottage.

After two seasons of the original series Brojects—which saw the siblings making things like a combined dock/bowling alley—and then a season inside with Brojects: In the House as they souped up a former Masonic Lodge, the boys are back making outlandish items for their cottage neighbours.

Bowing Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Cottage Life—the specialty channel is available in a free previewBrojects: Built for the Weekend hits the road for six instalments as the Buckles’ meet up with cottage owners, assess their needs and then build something cool. The challenge? To complete a project within a week … the time between visits by the property owners.

“We had definitely built as much stuff as we could at our family cottage,” Kevin says on the line from Nova Scotia. “But we had talked about it from the very beginning, being able to get out on the road and see cottages.” A Facebook post asked folks to audition their properties for consideration; Andrew says they picked interesting stories and locations that wouldn’t be too challenging for filming. It’s one thing to be in a large city with easy access to power, supplies and facilities. It’s another to be situated on a small lake, relying on generators, a shortage of electrical plugs and weather to contend with.

Rain and wind threatened to wreak havoc in Thursday’s debut as Kevin and Andrew worked to rebuild and trick out a family’s dilapidated deck. Not content to just update what was there, the Buckles’ formulate a unique way for everyone to swim without the threat of leeches, an easier way to load into a canoe, a place to create art and a fishing station. As fascinating as the projects are, what makes Brojects: Built for the Weekend (and their past series) such an entertaining program is the back and forth between Kevin and Andrew. Verbal jabs are the norm, making for a light-hearted and fun franchise. Kevin says the idea for Brojects came about with them sitting around at their own cottage, fixing and improving the endless things that go with it. A partnership with Blue Ant Media soon followed.

“I think the timing was perfect,” Andrew recalls. “I think Blue Ant Media was looking for some Canadian content for Cottage Life and we came on the scene doing DIY projects at our cottage.”

Upcoming episodes of Brojects: Built for the Weekend include a double-decker party raft, a micro A-frame glamping cabin, a floating playground and a boat-themed outdoor kitchen.

“The ideas just kind of evolve,” Kevin says of their inspiration. “I don’t look at something and say, ‘That’s going to have a fishing station on it.’ We did interviews with the families beforehand and asked them what they wanted. That was our guideline, but it just all comes together as it comes together.”

Brojects: Built for the Weekend airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Cottage Life.

Images courtesy of Blue Ant Media.




Preview: Season 6 of Hit the Ice skates on to APTN

Last month, APTN debuted an excellent new documentary series from Nish Media called Skindigenous. Now Nish returns to APTN with the sixth season of Hit the Ice.

This 15-episode season of Hit the Ice, returning Saturday at noon ET on APTN, once again focuses on Indigenous midget and junior hockey players from across the country. The goal of these 16- to 18-year-olds? To showcase their skills in front of scouts from the Canadian Hockey League and U.S. universities in hopes of landing a spot on one of those teams. The squad’s head coach? Ex-NHL coach and player John Chabot—a member of the Kitigan Zibi First Nation—who played with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, coached and assistant-coached for the New York Islanders and coached in the QMJHL.

Saturday’s return catches up with players as they undertake the first of a gruelling 14-day training camp at the Jonathan Toews Community Centre in Winnipeg. The open tryouts attract boys from across the country, including Tobias Commanda-Odjick, Cody Savey, Taylor Redmond and Corbin Mariash.

As for Chabot and his team of coaches, their aim is to get the players out of their comfort zone and see how they react. What’s supposed to be a light skate gets serious pretty quickly as the coaches lay down ground rules that set the tone for the rest of the day.

Hit the Ice is not only an opportunity for Indigenous youths to snag a place on a Canadian Hockey League team or at a U.S. university but the chance for viewers to gain some real insight into what it takes to be a hockey player in this country. It was a real education for this former summer soccer player to see the extensive drills, long hours and off-ice conditioning needed to break into an elite team. Kudos to the producers for including the office discussion between the coaches; their explanation and breakdown of not only the practices themselves but individual players’ strengths made for one heck of a great first of 15 episodes.

Hit the Ice airs Saturdays at noon ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of Jeff Griffin.




Amazing Race Canada’s Julie and Lowell inspire in AMI’s Mind Set Go

The mind is a powerful thing. It can inspire you to seek the most powerful and healthy version of yourself or propel on to a downward slide of negativity.

Debuting Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv, Mind Set Go takes the latter and aims for the former with help from The Amazing Race Canada finalists Julie and Lowell Taylor and Canadian Paralympians. The eight-episode season features everyday folks struggling to overcome the negative thoughts that lead to obesity via a three-month system of diet, exercise and support to get them on the path to health and personal wellness. Serving as certified health and fitness coaches and confidantes are the Taylors, who millions saw competing in Season 4 of The Amazing Race Canada; Lowell is legally blind due to retinitis pigmentosa. The pair plays an integral part in helping the contestants shed weight and negative thoughts.

Gio strives to reach his goal

“AMI was very interested in our story,” Julie says on the line from Lethbridge, Alta. “Our relationship, our teamwork and the fact that Lowell is visually impaired worked. We realized that we have something special that can reach a broader audience.” The journey begins with Gio. One of the original members of The Canadian Tenors, Gio stopped singing professionally over a decade ago and fell into a depression he fed with food. Now he’s ready to get healthy. It’s not easy. After a pep talk and weigh-in with Julie and Lowell, Gio begins his transformative journey.

The road to self-worth includes a bike ride with Michelle Salt. The one-time fitness model lost her right leg in a motorcycle accident but found drive and a zest for life as part of Canada’s Paralympic Snowboard Team. Salt listens to Gio before putting him on a bike and challenging him to keep up and pedals away. As she says, the only thing holding Gio back from success is his mind.

AMI This Week’s Victoria Nolan

“We often talk to people who are patients about this,” Lowell says. “If you believe you can’t you’re right. If you believe you can, you’re also right. If we let those bully voices inside of our head, that becomes the limiting belief. That becomes the thing that pulls us away, to withdraw, to stop living.”

“I don’t even think people identify that that is what’s holding them back,” Julie continues. “It becomes so internalized that they haven’t even identified that. Bringing it to light is so important.” Future episodes of Mind Set Go showcase Canadian Paralympians and athletes in Maya Jonas, Josh Cassidy, Summer Mortimer, Ness Murby, Greg Westlake and AMI This Week co-host Victoria Nolan.

Mind Set Go airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on AMI-tv.

Images courtesy of AMI.