Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

T+E’s haunting new original series Hotel Paranormal debuts May 15

From a media release:

T+E’s new original 10-part documentary series Hotel Paranormal (10×60’), produced by Toronto-based Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company, follows the terrifying, true stories of those who have come face-to-face with otherworldly hotel guests. Narrated by Canadian icon, Dan Aykroyd, who is no stranger to the unexplained, each episode features spine-tingling stories of paranormal encounters told from stays at grand hotels, highway motels and short-term rentals around the world. From hotel workers and guests witnessing objects flying across the room to uncovering trapped ancient spirits and experiencing demonic possession, Hotel Paranormal brings to life terrifying encounters with dramatic recreations and paranormal expert insights. The world broadcast premiere of Hotel Paranormal airs Friday, May 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on T+E.

Hotel Paranormal reminds audiences they are never truly alone when staying in a hotel. Every year, millions of people spend the night in an unfamiliar space and most are unaware that hotels could hold dark secrets connected to a tragic past. Get shivers as guests and staff alike recall their bone-chilling revelations as they detail their unexplained encounters with the paranormal.

Hotel Paranormal airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT, starting May 15, 2020, exclusively on T+E. The channel recently extended its nationwide free preview on Rogers running now until June 1st.

The first two episodes include:

  • Episode 1 – Paranormal Predator
    May 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

The series opener gives viewers a terrifying taste of what is in store when they check into Hotel Paranormal. A demonic spirit takes possession of a travelling businessman in a Texas motel, a dark force is unleashed by high school students in an Italian guest house and an evil entity attacks a news reporter in a New England B&B.

  • Episode 2 –  A Dark History
    May 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

In this episode, poltergeist activity plagues the staff and guests in a historic Minnesota hotel. We then travel to Alabama where a young chef endures the violent assaults of a former guest seeking vengeance. Across the pond in the UK, a little boy falls ill after a predatory phantom pays an unwanted visit during a family vacation.

Hotel Paranormal is an original Canadian series produced by Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company. Sarah Zammit is the Series Producer. Michael Kot and Betty Orr serve as Executive Producers. Dave Tebby and Mick Grogan are Directors and Josh Pelham is the Co-Director.

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Hope For Wildlife warms hearts and homes with its 10th season on Cottage Life

From a media release:

The highly-anticipated 10th season of Hope for Wildlife (10×60’) offers Canadians the perfect indoor distraction during self-isolation, with heart-warming stories, tears and plenty of happy endings. Cottage Life’s fan-favourite program follows nature advocate Hope Swinimer and her team as they rescue animals at her Halifax-based wildlife refuge and release them back into the wild. The world broadcast premiere of Hope For Wildlife airs Friday, April 24 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT on Cottage Life, during the channel’s nationwide free preview event running until May 3 across 10 million Canadian households.

When wildlife collides with the human world, Hope and her team spring into action to restore the natural order. In this brand new season, there are more animals than ever – seals, beavers, foxes, fawns, eagles and owls. Hope battles government red tape to save a black bear and a Category 2 hurricane slams straight into Hope For Wildlife, putting hundreds of wild lives in danger.

The first two episodes include:

  • Episode 1 – Frozen Hope
    April 24 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
    The rehab is flooded with orphaned seals and surrounded by solid ice following a brutal bone-chilling winter, providing an additional challenge to the team. Then, a Mountie saves a beaver, with Hope’s help, in what could be the most Canadian wildlife rescue ever. 

  • Episode 2 – Lila The Bear
    May 1 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
    When an orphaned black bear cub needs help, Hope puts everything on the line to save it and two bobcats are ready for release, but they don’t leave easily.

Hope For Wildlife is a Cottage Life original series, produced by Arcadia Entertainment. Overseeing the series for Cottage Life is Sam Linton, Head of Original Content for Blue Ant Media. Blue Ant International oversees international licensing for Hope For Wildlife.

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Take a four-hour tour with TVO’s Tripping the Rideau Canal

Honestly, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. With Canadians—and the world—being encouraged to stay inside as much as possible, Tripping the Rideau Canal comes along to fill a goodly chunk of time for those abiding by the rules and hunkering down.

Debuting Friday at 7 p.m. on TVO (and available to stream on TVO.org) the four-hour documentary—yes, you read that right—plops viewers into a seat in a 1948 mahogany Shepard runabout and takes them on a real-time ride on a 27-kilometre stretch of the canal into Ottawa. The doc is the brainchild of executive producer, writer and director Mitch Azaria, whose Good Earth Productions has made series like Canada: A Magnificient Journey, Great Canadian Parks and Great Canadian Lakes.

And if four hours aboard a boat seems boring, it’s not. Tripping the Rideau Canal is equal parts boat ride and history lesson, as facts about the canal and the area surrounding it flit on-screen every few minutes.

We chatted with Mitch Azaria about the show’s seeds and the challenges he faced filming a four-hour, non-stop production.

I’ve driven parallel to the Rideau Canal for years, so this really opened my eyes to it. How did you end up doing this for TVO?
Mitch Azaria: Ironically I’d actually made a doc about the Rideau Canal a long time ago, but it was so long ago that I’d forgotten about it. I went to Ottawa University, so I always thought that the Rideau Canal went from Carleton University to downtown. I didn’t realize that it’s over 200 kilometres long, it goes from Kingston to Ottawa, when it was built or why. I didn’t know any of that.

We were talking with TVO and they kept saying, ‘We’d like to do something that’s in real-time and we don’t have commercials so we can just put something on for a really long time.’ And we thought, ‘What broadcaster says that to an independent producer? It’s the greatest thing you can do.’ We figured out pretty quickly it would have to be some kind of journey where the viewer feels like they’re taking a trip. It couldn’t be static, it would have to be in motion. We had a list of 10 places in Ontario that we thought would be interesting and that ranged from train trips to highway trips to boat trips. We’d got it down to the Welland Canal and the Rideau Canal and we went with a small camera, shot footage of both and presented it to TVO. We knew already that we liked the Rideau Canal, but we didn’t want to influence them. And they picked the Rideau Canal too. So there we were.

It’s very relaxing and part of the fun is the history lesson.
MA: It’s the oldest continuously operated canal in North America. There’s a lot of interesting parts about the history, but what I find the coolest is that you get to a lock. The men and women that are working the lock, they’re Parks Canada people, because the Rideau Canal is under Parks Canada.

The cranks that they’re turning and the operation that they’re running is the same one that’s been in operation for almost 200 years. The actual handle that they’re hand cranking, everything other than the doors, all the metal works, all the internal work, even the stones that the canals are made out of. Because it’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, they have to go and get the stones from the quarries that are now 150 years closed. They have to go and find those old quarries and take the stone out of those old quarries, so they match the stone that was put there 200 years ago.

Let’s talk about some logistics. I guess it was natural for you to start at the dam at the beginning rather than further up the chain?
MA: John Morrison was the director, and he and I spent a crazy amount of time on the canal trying to figure out all of these things, including a starting point that would be exactly four hours from the end. We weren’t smart enough to figure out anything more than, let’s go four hours back and start.

What about motor noise? Was that ever going to be an issue?
MA: It was going to be a real issue, and we had two sound men that all they did was try and figure out how to avoid that. So, they had everything pointed forward and they had figured out a way to keep everything in front of us.

What are some issues you came across during filming?
MA: We thought we asked every question and every technical issue to make sure that we could run for four hours. And one of the things that came up as we’re running and sort of live, we’re shooting, is the boat operator said, ‘Geez, we’re probably going to have to stop a few times because of these weeds.’ And we went, ‘What do you mean weeds?’ We thought we asked every question. Can the batteries last long enough? Will the camera run long enough? Are the cards long enough that we’re recording on? Do we have enough gas? That’s the one question. So yeah, there were a couple of little hitches that we didn’t count on, but that’s the way it goes.

Get some extra behind-the-scenes footage on filming on the show’s website.

Tripping the Rideau Canal airs Friday at 7 p.m. on TVO.

Images courtesy of the TVO original, Tripping the Rideau Canal

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Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters returns April 16

From a media release:

Food Network Canada heats up spring with the sizzling return of Corus Studios’ original series, Fire Masters (15x60min). Professional chef Dylan Benoit returns as host, joined by a rotating panel of expert judges and notable culinary personalities. Each episode will challenge three chefs to show off their grilling talents and creativity in two culinary challenges, cooking up mouth-watering dishes that will be assessed by the judges. Two chefs will be eliminated, and the last one standing will go head-to-head with a renowned judge in the third and final round, vying for a $10,000 cash prize and the title of Fire Masters Champion. Fire Masters returns Thursday, April 16 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

Hailing from across North America including Toronto, Ont. to Miami, Fla., Kelowna, B.C. to New York City, NY. and beyond, Fire Masters’ competitors represent the continent’s most talented grill masters and chefs. In the premiere episode “Let the Flames Begin,” the “Wildfire” round heats up fast with three executive chefs, each looking to smoke out the competition with their signature dishes that are judged on presentation, creativity and taste. In the “Crossfire” round, the chefs bring the heat, competing for a spot in the final round. Finally, in the “Feast of Fire” round, the final competitor remaining goes head-to-head against a Fire Masters judge and must showcase their culinary skills across a whole menu. Both chefs have a sous-chef to help them grill up a ‘Breakfast for Dinner’ feast that will determine the winner. For the full list of competitors, please visit foodnetwork.ca.

Host and chef Dylan Benoit returns to oversee the fiery battles and brings with him some serious credentials: extensive culinary experience working in prestigious restaurants and vast world travel and culinary tourism. Dylan is joined by a rotating panel of renowned, flame-fanatic judges, who will determine which competitors have what it takes to earn the title of Fire Masters Champion.

A roster of new and returning sponsors enter the Fire Masters arena this season. In every episode the competitors will have top-of-the-line grilling stations provided by returning sponsor, Napoleon. As the series’ exclusive provider of grilling appliances and equipment, the fully outfitted Fire Masters arena boasts the latest, cutting-edge tools from Napoleon. Additionally, as the competition heats up, the winner of each second round is awarded a Napoleon Travel portable grill. Certified Angus Beef ® brand returns as the exclusive beef provider for the series, stocking the fridge with their premium high-quality beef. The Certified Angus Beef ® brand is also showcased a “Crossfire” challenge, where competitors feature a dry-aged bone-in ribeye or short ribs as the star ingredient in their dish, as well as during a “Feast of Fire” challenge, where the chefs must elevate the tried-and-true meat and potatoes dinner. Tourism PEI comes on board for an integrated “Feast of Fire” challenge, where the chefs will create a “Down East Feast”, celebrating the beauty and bounty of Prince Edward Island and using ingredients sourced from the area. Miller Lite joins for an integrated “Feast of Fire” challenge, tasking the chefs to create a family-style spread of flame-kissed dishes perfect for game day. Host Dylan Benoit will also appear in Miller Lite’s digital calendar, sharing his favourite Campfire Queso Fundito recipe.

Fire Masters is produced by Architect Films in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada. For Architect Films, Tanya Linton and Mike Sheerin are Executive Producers and Jennifer Pratt is Series Producer.

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Young chefs showcase their culinary skills in Food Network Canada’s Junior Chef Showdown

From a media release:

Ready, set, showdown! This April, young Canadian chefs showcase extraordinary talent in the new Corus Studios original show, Junior Chef Showdown (8x60min). The series features 14 exceptionally skilled cooks with a passion for culinary creations between the ages of nine and 13. Every week, they are mentored and judged on each challenge and dish by three Food Network Canada celebrity chefs: television personality and best-selling cookbook author Anna Olson; chef and owner of Toronto’s Ruby Watchco, The Hearth, and award-winning cookbook author, Lynn Crawford; and owner of New York City’s Flip Sigi and television personality, Jordan Andino. The contestants are competing for the title of Junior Chef Showdown champion, a $25,000 cash prize and a sunny family vacation courtesy of Air Transat. The competition kicks off on April 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

The young Canadian cooks set to showcase their culinary skills in the junior chef kitchen are:

  • Audrey, 11
  • Cesar, 13
  • Cristian, 10
  • Elijah, 10
  • Imal, 10
  • Kaitlin, 10
  • Katie, 11
  • Kinza, 10
  • Matthew, 10
  • Mia-Rose, 10
  • Noah, 11
  • Nyasia, 9
  • Patrick, 10
  • Sophia, 10

In each fun-filled episode, the junior chefs face a Skills Test and a Cooking Challenge to determine who leaves the kitchen and who continues in the competition. The kids amaze and astound the judge mentors with their ingenuity and technique as they tackle each challenge, all while cheering on and supporting one another. Throughout the season, the fearless cooks are tasked with creating everything from fresh pasta to hand-whipped meringue, and eggs benedict in limited time. In the series premiere “Ready, Set, Showdown!” airing on Sunday, April 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, 14 junior chefs enter the kitchen for their first Skills Test, where they hit the griddle to see who can make the highest stack of pancakes. The best stacks may earn them safety from the upcoming Cooking Challenge. The remaining junior chefs are then tasked to create a chicken dish with three different colourful vegetables from the pantry in 40 minutes. Only those with the best dishes will impress the judges, and earn another week in the competition.

The kid-friendly, culinary creativity continues on foodnetwork.ca as viewers can take a closer look at the judge mentors and junior chefs with full biographies, galleries, videos and recipes.

Junior Chef Showdown will also deliver the culinary excitement to Corus Entertainment’s powerhouse kids network YTV, airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET starting April 22.

Junior Chef Showdown is produced by Proper Television in association with Corus Studios for Food Network Canada. For Proper Television, Cathie James and Lesia Capone are Executive Producers and Jessica Capobianco is Series Producer.

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