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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

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.

ABOUT BLINK49 STUDIOS
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.

ABOUT VANGUARDE ARTISTS MANAGEMENT
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.

ABOUT FIFTH SEASON
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.

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Links: Sort Of, Season 2

From Tobin Ng of Broadview:

Link: Sort Of star Bilal Baig on what fans can look forward to in Season 2
Sabi (Bilal Baig) and their best friend, 7ven (Amanda Cordner), are standing in the alley by Sabi’s apartment. Sabi’s on the phone, half speaking to the caller, half distracted by 7ven’s enthusiastic questions. It’s the fourth time Baig has run through the scene for Sort Of’s new season, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from their composure. Continue reading.

From Emma Teitel of the Toronto Star:

Link: Queer family relationships are complicated. But Bilal Baig’s hit show ‘Sort of’ gets it
Like the 28-year-old actor and writer who co-created the show and is its star, Sabi uses they/them pronouns, wears their hair long, dresses femme and sports manicures and bangles. This fact plagues Sabi’s well-meaning, conservative dad, Imran, so much so he mostly ignores it. “You’re really handy,” he says leaning on the ladder as Sabi, a former electrician, works the wires above. “You’re going to make a very good husband to a nice lady someday.” Continue reading.

From Soraya Roberts of Maclean’s:

Link: The Uncertain Stardom of Bilal Baig
The first time Bilal Baig discussed gender with their parents was last fall, a week before the premiere of Sort Of, the CBC series inspired in part by Baig’s life. Yes, they know they should have done it earlier. Or at least before network promos began beaming Baig’s face into homes across the country. Continue reading.

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All-new original competition series Cross Country Cake Off decorates CTV’s schedule beginning December 4

From a media release:

It’s cake time! CTV announced today that its all-new cake competition series, CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF, is set to make its debut December 4 with four holiday-themed episodes. Hosted by cookbook author and multiple Canadian Screen Award-winner Mary Berg and introducing celebrated pastry chef Andrew Han, the CTV Original series airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app, and features the country’s best cake makers as they bake to claim the $50,000 prize, and the title of CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF Champion.

Throughout four holiday-themed episodes, hosts Berg and Han judge the homemade cakes of 24 bakers from across Canada. During three regional qualifying rounds, eight bakers in each of the host cities – Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax – present their creations to the judges. Four cake makers from each qualifier then move forward to compete in the CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF kitchen in a festive cake challenge. The Top 2 bakers representing each region move on to compete in the finale.

In a special two-night event beginning Sunday, Dec. 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app, the third and final qualifying round concludes leaving six cake makers to face off in two holiday challenges. The winner takes home the top prize of $50,000 and the title of CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF Champion during the finale on Monday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app.

Following the four-episode holiday season, CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF returns to CTV in spring 2023 with six all-new episodes featuring a new crop of 40 Canadian bakers vying for the top prize.

Viewers can stream new episodes of CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF on CTV.ca and the CTV app, which is also home to bonus content including exclusive video content and behind-the-scenes extras. In addition, viewers can follow @CTV’s social channels all season long for highlights, bonus content, and more.

About Mary Berg
Mary Berg is a three-time Canadian Screen Award-winner for Best Host, Lifestyle for her shows MARY MAKES IT EASY (2022) and MARY’S KITCHEN CRUSH (2020-21). MARY MAKES IT EASY was also named Best Lifestyle Program or Series at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards, following back-to-back wins for MARY’S KITCHEN CRUSH in 2020 and 2021. Berg is the Season 3 winner of CTV’s MASTERCHEF CANADA, as well as a cooking expert on CTV YOUR MORNING, THE SOCIAL, and THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW. Berg is the best-selling author of Kitchen Party: Effortless Recipes for Every Occasion, and Berg’s newest book Well Seasoned: A Year’s Worth of Delicious Recipes.

About Andrew Han
Chef Andrew Han is the owner and executive chef of the award-winning Kouign Café, located in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. Chef Han discovered a love of cooking early on in life and received training in classical French and Italian culinary and pastry arts at the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He began his career as executive pastry chef at several notable Vancouver restaurants and bakeries, merging his Korean-Vietnamese-Canadian upbringing with his passion for food to then create his whimsical and other-worldly creations at Kouign Café. While Chef Han is known for his masterful execution of combining sweet and savoury ingredients and his special selection of Kouign Amann, his most well-known menu item is the White Rabbit Cookie. This cookie went viral when he participated in a one-time Chinatown pop-up, drawing daily lineups of hungry foodies craving culinary nostalgia.

With just the right amount of authenticity, innovation, and imagination, Chef Han elevates the humble foods of his Chinatown upbringing and takes his guests to a magical place where he shares his childhood and heritage through unique and delectable bites.

CROSS COUNTRY CAKE OFF is developed and produced by Boat Rocker’s Proper Television, in association with Bell Media. Cathie James and Lesia Capone are Executive Producers and David Donohue and Meredith Veats are Series Producers.

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TV, Eh? Podcast Episode 255: More Canada’s Drag Race and Lilly Singh hosting for CTV

Welcome back to another bi-weekly (ish) chat about the latest news in Canadian TV! First, Greg and Amy go through debuts and returns on the Canadian TV calendar.

Then, we cover the latest Canadian TV news, which includes The Porter, Sort Of and The Hardy Boys winning DGC Awards, Lilly Singh hosting Battle of the Generations for CTV and Crave ordering Season 4 of Canada’s Drag Race.

This podcast brought to you by Little Giant Adelaide Hills Chardonnay and Chateau Saint-Florin Bordeaux.

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Preview: History’s Our War combines genealogy with war veteran stories

I’m a huge fan of genealogy series. Whether it’s Who Do You Think You Are? or Finding Your Roots, I can’t get enough of the tales of family from peoples’ pasts. I was excited to learn more about Lark Productions’ latest, Our War, which follows the descendants of Canadian war veterans as they learn what their family members did during the First and Second World Wars. Many stories have been forgotten; even more, have never been told.

Debuting Friday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History Channel, the four-part Our War is a real-life genealogical investigation that reveals the past through a younger generation.

In the first installment, we follow Stephanie Watts, who is on a mission to learn more about her great-great-grandfather Samuel. Other than some scant information about him serving as an Army band member in the First World War and some photos, his life, and his role in the war are a blank. The quest begins in Calgary, where Stephanie, who is Caucasian, reflects on learning, as a child, that Samuel was Black. Then it’s off to learn more about a missing Memorial Plaque, also known as a “Death Penny,” in his name and given to families of those killed in the First World War. With help from Militaria Auctioneer Linda Baggaley and War Memorabilia dealer Marvin Taylor, Stephanie learns the story of the Death Penny and how rare they are.

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Chris Black is looking for some answers of his own. His grandfather, Edward Walter Drost, was injured in Anzio while fighting in Italy during the Second World War. One of Chris’ last conversations with his grandfather has led Chris on a quest to learn more about a word Edward uttered: Camino.

Then it’s back to Stephanie, who learns Samuel’s birthplace, and the circumstances he grew up in before coming to Canada on the promise of land in the Prairies from history teacher Christian Mbanza (above right, with Stephanie). It’s fascinating to learn about Canada circa 1907, when Samuel arrived in small-town Alberta, determined to make a go of it and to see Stephanie’s reaction when she’s presented with documents she’s never seen.

In the second episode, airing Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT, a teenage descendant of legendary Onondaga runner Tom Longboat learns of his ancestor’s valiant, yet little-known, actions during the First World War.

Our War is an incredible, and exciting way, of telling the stories of these Canadian heroes. Fingers crossed there is another season of Our War to come next year.

Our War airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History Channel.

Image courtesy of Lark Productions.

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