Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

Preview: Documentary Channel delves into a decades-old mystery in SkyMaster Down

I’m fascinated with stories of people and/or things that disappear without a trace. I think it all started back when I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind with my dad in the movie theatre. That lead me to UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle and other mysteries. It’s never stopped, which was why I was intrigued by Skymaster Down.

Debuting Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on documentary Channel, filmmaker Andrew Gregg heads north to uncover a headscratcher case that hasn’t been solved in over 70 years.

Here are the facts. U.S. Air Force Douglas Skymaster #2469 departed Anchorage, Alaska, for Great Falls, Nebraska, on January 26, 1950, with 44 passengers—members of the U.S. military, and a pregnant woman and her child—on board. After checking in with Snag Airport over the radio, it suddenly disappeared over the Yukon without a trace. A massive search—where four rescue planes crashed—ensued, with no results.

Did it hurtle into a lake? Why wasn’t an SOS sent? Did it slam into a mountain? Become buried in a glacier? Gregg and others, like the late Gerry Whitley of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association in Whitehorse, attempt to find out, tracing the route #2469 took—a route still travelled today, it should be noted—and bring closure to the families who were left behind. Gregg is a master storyteller, giving an extensive history of the region at the time, including how and why the route #2469 flew was established in the first place, how an intensive military exercise may have played a part in the disappearance and why reports of an incident by an Indigenous man were ignored.

What sets Skymaster Down apart—aside from buggy visits in the north—from other docs in this vein are the interviews with the families of those lost. These chats paint a picture of the people in the images flashed on-screen, adding another layer of sorrow to an already devastating tale.

Skymaster Down airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on documentary Channel.

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History and Hungry Eyes Media present a groundbreaking exploration of Canada’s Black history in BLK: An Origin Story, premiering February 26

From a media release:

HISTORY® and Hungry Eyes Media Group announce the groundbreaking four-part docuseries, BLK: An Origin Story, premiering Saturday, February 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The limited series, consisting of four 60-minute episodes, reveals the deep historic impact of Black presence in Canada. Executive produced by Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland, BLK: An Origin Story is helmed by Hungry Eyes’ award-winning production team, who takes viewers on a nationwide journey through time to discover the untold story of Black people in Canada and their legacy, which dates back to 1608.

BLK: An Origin Story is steeped in riveting, enduring, and multi-faceted historical Black Canadian narratives. Each episode transports viewers to a different Canadian location, and provides chronologically significant insights into the consequences of Black presence in the areas. Featured outposts include Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. The series also highlights the legacy of Black contributions to the larger story of Canada itself, dating back to when explorer Mathieu de Costa first set foot on shore, more than 400 years ago. BLK: An Origin Story acts as an immersive and informative chapter of Black Canadian history, elevating remarkable Black Canadians previously unacknowledged in mainstream social, academic, and cultural circles, normalizing their unique stories as a matter of general record. 

BLK: An Origin Story elevates the unsung heroes who substantially contributed to Canada’s nation-building and to Black Canadian history. The series shines a spotlight on the origins of diverse and deeply entrenched Black Canadian experiences, which range from being transported, escaped, or freely traveled within Canada. Part history book, part geography lesson, each of the four episodes leverages compelling footage, art, locations, archival materials, and interviews from some of the country’s best known and under known experts of Black Canadian lore, facts, and pedagogy. The list of authors, academics, musicians, historians, community leaders, activists and elders include George Elliot Clarke, Lawrence Hill, Charmaine Nelson, El Jones, May Q Wong, and Stephanie Allen, among others. 

Episode Synopsis:

Episode 1: Three Epic Migrations, One People (NS)
Descendants of The Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons and The Black Refugees represent Canada’s largest Black population today. Their incredible story begins in Nova Scotia in the 1700s and challenges our understanding of what should be considered a distinct society.

Episode 2: John “Daddy” Hall (Owen Sound, ON)
Born free of an Ojibwe father and an escaped-slave mother in Upper Canada, John “Daddy” Hall fought in the war of 1812, was captured and sold into slavery. Thirteen years later he makes a daring escape and finds his way back to Canada.

Episode 3: Hogan’s Alley (Vancouver, BC)
Before Urban Renewal, before displacement, and before dispersal, there was life. For many years Hogan’s Alley was the heart of Vancouver’s Black community. But that community began in the 1850s, when James Douglas, (the father of British Columbia) invited Blacks to settle Vancouver Island in an effort to stave off American annexation.

Episode 4: Little Burgundy (Montreal, QC)
Tucked between Griffintown and St. Henri in Montreal’s Sud Ouest is Little Burgundy, home to a Black population led by Black men who worked in Canada’s railway industry as sleeping car porters. They were the first Black trade union to organize in North America and were among the leaders in the struggle for civil rights.

BLK: An Origin Story is produced by Hungry Eyes Media in association with Corus Studios for HISTORY. Executive Producers are Jen Holness and Sudz Sutherland. For Corus Studios and HISTORY, Kathleen Meek is the Executive in Charge of Production, Rachel Nelson is Vice President of Original Scripted, Factual and Kids Content, and Lisa Godfrey is Senior Vice President of Original Content and Corus Studios.

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Corus Studios unites HGTV’s Scott McGillivray and Bryan Baeumler in new original series Renovation Resort

From a media release:

Corus Studios kicks off the new year with its latest greenlight, Renovation Resort (7×60), bringing together two of HGTV Canada’s biggest names in real estate and construction, Scott McGillivray and Bryan Baeumler, for the first time in one show. The seven-part competition series, produced by McGillivray Entertainment, is slated for production this summer and set to premiere on HGTV Canada in Spring 2023. Corus Studios will distribute the series internationally.     

In Renovation Resort, Scott McGillivray enlists builder and longtime “frenemy” Bryan Baeumler to help get his recently purchased, total wreck of a lakeside resort into shape. Although they won’t be getting their hands dirty this time, instead, they’re calling in four expert contractor/design duos who will battle it out against each other as they bring this forgotten fishing resort back to life in a frenzied, fun, action-packed competition series. Each of these super-skilled teams will design and renovate one of four waterfront cabins in just six weeks, attempting to transform them into gorgeous one-of-a-kind vacation rentals ready to receive flocks of guests. Armed with good advice, and a few quick jokes, Scott and Bryan will oversee the full process, guiding these four teams through the renovation, setting up tricky challenges and, alongside their guest judges, critiquing the results with a critical eye. As the clock ticks down to the big launch for the high season, these teams will go all out to turn their cabin into a complete show-stopper. Only one cabin will be crowned the best and that team will go home with a game-changing reward.

For Corus Studios, Colin Bohm is Executive Vice President of Content and Corporate Strategy, Lisa Godfrey is Senior Vice President of Original Content and Corus Studios, Krista Look is Vice President of Original Lifestyle Content and Debbie Brown is Executive in Charge of Production. For McGillivray Entertainment, Scott McGillivray is CEO, Angela Jennings is President, Jeff Baker is Head of Production and Kelly Wray is Executive Producer.

Renovation Resort is currently looking for experienced contractors and designer duos to participate in the series. For casting details, visit https://renomem.castingcrane.com/

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Fashion Dis, hosted by Ardra Shephard, debuts February 9 on AMI-tv

From a media release:

Finally. An inclusive fashion TV show for people of all abilities. AMI, in partnership with Nikki Ray Media Agency (Fire Masters, Home to Win), is pleased to announce the debut of Fashion Dis —hosted by Ardra Shephard—on Wednesday, February 9, at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv.

Fashion Dis promises to be a game-changer in the makeover space, challenging traditional norms that lack inclusion. Each episode of Fashion Dis celebrates the head-to-toe overhaul of a frustrated style seeker discouraged by an industry that lacks adaptive options.

From innovative clothing design to transformative beauty techniques, our expert team reveals the latest in fashion-forward thinking and shows those ready to rock their best body exactly how to do it.

“It’s exciting to be part of something that’s never been done before,” says show creator and host Ardra Shephard. “I want the disabled style-seekers who watch Fashion Dis to feel seen, to feel elevated. I hope this show challenges what people think about disability. And in our own little way, I think Fashion Dis can be culture changing.”

“Fashion Dis is a series that is long overdue,” says John Melville, Vice-President, Content Development & Programming, AMI-audio/AMI-tv. “We can’t wait for our viewers to meet Ardra, the experts and participants, and the companies that offer adaptive options to Canadians of all abilities.”

Host Ardra Shephard
Ardra Shephard is the influential Canadian writer behind the award-winning blog, Tripping on Air. With an international reach and reputation, Ardra is a leader in the chronic illness community. Ardra is the host of AMI-tv’s ground-breaking new television series Fashion Dis and is a Healthline columnist (Ask Ardra Anything).

Ardra regularly writes for international publications and was recently featured on the cover of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Momentum Magazine, the largest MS-related publication in the world (winter 2020). She has contributed to FASHION, InStyle, WebMD, Everyday Health and others. Ardra was named one of the top MS bloggers “in the universe” by feedspot.com, and Yahoo Lifestyle reported that “@ms_trippingonair is the number one chronic illness account to follow on Instagram.”

Ardra is a leader in the MS community who is on a mission to change minds about what it means to live with serious illness and to have disability positively reflected as part of a diverse society, while empowering those with chronic illness to stake their place in the world.

The experts
Bella Strange, makeup artist
Bella is a makeup artist catering to the LGBTQ+, disability and special effects communities.

Susan Shipley, hair stylist
Susan is a master stylist with extensive experience in accessible hair care services.

Izzy Camilleri, style expert
Izzy is one of Canada’s leading fashion designers and a pioneer in adaptive clothing.

Melonie Lawrence, art director
Melonie is a fashion stylist who believes great style can be achieved regardless of size, colour, creed or cash flow.

KC Armstrong, photographer
KC is an award-winning advertising, editorial and portrait photographer.

In keeping with AMI’s mandate of making accessible media for all Canadians, Season one of Fashion Dis features Integrated Described Video (IDV) making it accessible to individuals who are blind or partially sighted. Season One of Fashion Dis was filmed under strict local COVID-19 protocols.

Fashion Dis debuts Wednesday, February 9, at 8 p.m. Eastern on AMI-tv. Episodes can be streamed on demand on AMI.ca and the AMI-tv App for Apple and Android.

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Preview: Mary Berg gifts us treats in holiday-themed Mary Makes it Easy

Now that the world has returned to some sort of order—at least, as much as it can—many of us will face that all too familiar dread surrounding the holidays: the Christmas meal.

A too-dry turkey, gluey mashed potatoes (of which I have been guilty) and watery pumpkin pie are just three of many mishaps that can occur when folks congregate during the holidays.

But Mary Berg has got your (and my) back this year.

Debuting Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CTV Life Channel with a special episode of Mary Makes it Easy called “Mary Makes it Merry,” the MasterChef Canada winner, cookbook author, celebrity chef and culinary coach aptly guides you through an easy as pie (see what I did there) bunch of recipes designed to keep you organized when family descends.

“It breaks my heart to hear that the worst part of the holidays for a lot of people is making the holiday meal. By the time you shop for the food and make the standard feast you’ve spent so long prepping, it’s no wonder you’re overwhelmed,” Mary says in a media release promoting the instalment. “With my shortcuts and time-saving strategies, I’m going to make the holidays so easy.”

It all kicks off with perhaps the easiest bread dish I’ve ever seen. I’ve struggled with making cinnamon buns in the past, eventually giving up and buying them from bakers. No more, thanks to Mary’s Cinnamon Roll Bread, which looks so simple even I could master it. The same goes for the Stuffed Turkey Roulade she tackles as the main dish. Once Mary completes a couple of sides, including dead easy cranberry sauce, I was convinced. I can, and will, do all of that for my family and more, over the holidays.

Mary Makes it Easy, “Mary Makes it Merry,” airs Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CTV Life Channel.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

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