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Radio One’s Because News brings laughs to primetime TV

When it came to creating Because News, Gavin Crawford looked across the pond.

“When we were first figuring out what will it be and what will we do, I was like, ‘Let’s steal the British ideas,’ because those are the shows I like,” Crawford recalls. Created by Crawford, Elizabeth Bowie and David Carroll, the long-running Radio One program recently made the jump to a new platform.

Airing Sundays at 7 p.m. on  CBC (and Saturdays at 11 a.m. on Radio One), Because News features host Crawford and a rotating panel of comedians, sketch performers and funny people who make games out of the week’s news.

Last week’s radio and TV episode welcomed Andrew Phung (Kim’s Convenience), Jennifer Whalen (Baroness Von Sketch Show) and comedian Martha Chaves, and poked fun at Halloween amid the pandemic, COVID-19 itself and the U.S. election. Best known for his work on The Hour Has 22 Minutes and  The Gavin Crawford Show on The Comedy Network, we spoke to the Second City alum and Gemini Award-winner about adding TV cameras to Because News, how the show is written and tight-turnaround times.

Did you always hope Because News would become a television show?
Gavin Crawford: When we first started doing the show, I always thought there was a possibility if it worked out it could translate, just simply because there are so many British ones that fulfill those same things. When we were first figuring out what will it be, what will we do, I was like, ‘Let’s steal the British ideas,’ because those are the shows I enjoy watching. And so we always tried to model it that way, that it would be modular. Then, I guess, partly because it’s me and I like to do voices and characters, we would end up making things like fake movie trailers. But I guess I always had in the back of my mind, if CBC ever wants to do cross-platform stuff, it’s something they could actually manage to do.

Was it you and Elizabeth Bowie who developed the show together?
GC: Yeah. Basically, Liz and David Carroll came to me and said, ‘We’ve got a green light to make a pilot of a news quiz, and we think you’d be a good host for that. Is that something you’d want to do?’ Once we had established, ‘OK, it’s going to be me,’ we tried to figure out what we wanted to do. In my experience of watching those shows, I wanted it to be about the comradery of the panellists.  wanted us to be able to tease each other. I don’t want the answers to be necessarily that hard or important. I don’t want to try and solve a refugee crisis. We want to take the ball of news that everyone has and have fun with it where we can and make fun of the people in power. But, in a weird way, they are less game shows than they are talk shows.

I always tell the panellists, ‘You don’t have to get the right answer. You can say wet socks and a cat, for all I care. Let’s be able to take the time to riff with each other and take up ideas and improvise, the way that a lot of the people on the show are improvisers and comedians.’ So that’s what we like to do and to try and make sure that there’s enough space for that.

How difficult was it to take this show that’s made for the radio and translate it to TV? 
GC: There are definitely difficulties that you don’t have on radio. But it wasn’t too hard, because we made a conscious decision not to reinvent the wheel. I like the show the way it is, and if it was on TV, I still want it to be that. The hardest thing was how do we get people in a studio together, with the pandemic, knowing that we have to space everybody eight feet apart?

There are little technical things like how do you just keep a comradery going when you know they’re going to cut to a wide shot, and it’s going to look very wide. Those are things that you have to think of. And then there are weird technical things. If you show a graphic or TV, everything has to be triply sourced and thrust through legal. The hardest thing is clearing everything from the team of lawyers, and being like, ‘We need this clip of Trump saying this funny thing.’ Whereas on the radio, that’s a five-minute job. And on TV it’s a day and a half.

I listened to the most recent episode on the radio and noted there were a few segments there that weren’t on the TV episode.
GC: The radio is always five minutes longer, so just from a time standpoint, there’s always going to be an extra round or something on the radio that doesn’t make it to the TV. I don’t actually mind, because it gives you a reason to see things on different platforms, as opposed to a show that would be the same from one to the other, and you just pick and choose where you listen to it.

You record and film the show on Thursday, and then you’re turning this around to be ready for television broadcast on a Sunday. 
GC: It’s a very quick turnaround. That’s why those British panel shows look like that because they’re very quick. You don’t get a lot of time to edit it and things like that. There’s a number of things that I’d love to be able to do that we just can’t do time-wise. So, we try to filter in what we can do. But it’s tricky because sometimes the news doesn’t even set itself until Wednesday night. And you’re pulling graphics on a Tuesday afternoon. And of course, everybody wants the most heads up they can get on everything.

You’re having to keep on top of things happening in Canada and around the world for the show. Do you ever just feel overwhelmed?
GC: Oh yeah. I call it Bad Mood Tuesday, where after a weekend of combing through what’s going on to see what we’ll have the next week, I’m always in a bad mood on Tuesday. Then we try and lift ourselves out of it. ‘OK, what will put us in a good mood?’ And then we get to joke around about things, and the other writers come in, and then we’re like, great. I feel that’s maybe how the audience also feels. Our job is to be like, ‘OK, well, here’s your good news,’ Sunday night or Saturday morning when all these things you’ve been hearing about all week. Here’s the way you can hear about them that maybe doesn’t make you want to hide in the woods.

Because News airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. on Radio One and Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Link: ‘Baroness Von Sketch Show’ Season 5 review: IFC’s feminist Canadian comedy still rules

From Jude Dry of IndieWire:

Link: ‘Baroness Von Sketch Show’ Season 5 review: IFC’s feminist Canadian comedy still rules
Whether it’s the absurdist escalation of Red Wine Ladies’ Night, or the anti-misogynist virtue signaling of a Queer Theory Reading Group, “Baroness Von Sketch Show” took advantage of under-explored scenarios to produce hilarity that resonated with the everywoman. Continue reading. 

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2020 Rockie Awards International Program Competition winners announced

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 Rockie Awards International Program Competition. Hosted by Aurora Browne, Carolyn Taylor and Jennifer Whalen of the award-winning Canadian sketch comedy Baroness von Sketch Show, the virtual edition of the Rockie Awards International Program Competition was streamed live celebrating excellence in television and digital media content from around the world.

One of the largest awards programs of its kind and juried by an esteemed panel of 150 international industry professionals, the Rockie Awards International Program Competition presented awards in twenty-six (26) categories spanning Documentary & Factual, Arts & Entertainment, Children & Youth, Scripted and Podcast. In addition, special gala awards were presented including Innovative Producer Award, A+E Inclusion Award, Canadian Award of Distinction, Francophone Prize, $25,000 Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content and the Grand Jury Prize.

The competition featured 128 nominations from 35 countries including the UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, China and Switzerland.

International Program Competition winners include:

Drama Series: English Language
Gentleman Jack
BBC, HBO, Lookout Point
UK, USA

Comedy Series: English Language
Fleabag
all3media, BBC Three, Two Brothers Pictures
UK

Limited Series
Chernobyl
HBO, Sister, Sky Atlantic, The Mighty Mint, Word Games
Lithuania, UK, Ukraine, USA

Drama Series: Non-English Language
Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame)
BBC Two, Netflix, Sister
Japan, UK

Comedy Series: Non-English Language
Mytho
ARTE France, Netflix
France

Children & Youth Fiction Series
Hardball
ABC iview, ABC ME, Australian Children’s Foundation, Northern Pictures
Australia, UK

Lifestyle Program
Employable Me
Accessible Media Inc., all3media, Thomas Howe Associates Inc.
Canada

Comedy & Variety Program
Baroness von Sketch Show
CBC, Frantic Films
Canada

Science & Technology Program
Science Fair
Muck Media, National Geographic, Univision
USA

History & Biography Program
Free Solo
Image Nation, Itinerant Media, Little Monster Films, National Geographic, Parkes+MacDonald
USA

Docusoap & Docuseries
Who Are You Calling Fat?
BBC, Love Productions
UK

Sci-Fi & Genre-Based Series
His Dark Materials
Bad Wolf, BBC, HBO
Canada, UK, USA

Podcast of the Year
This Sounds Serious
Castbox, Kelly&Kelly
Canada, USA

Innovative Producer Award
Winner: Wattpad Studios
The Innovative Producer Award recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media.

A+ E Inclusion Award
Winner: Niecy Nash
The A+E Inclusion Award is presented in recognition of visionary work in media that champions and reflects the diversity of the world in which we live.

Canadian Award of Distinction
Winner: Aurora Browne, Carolyn Taylor, Jennifer Whalen & Meredith MacNeill of Baroness von Sketch Show
For the first time, this year the award is presented to a group whose body of work exemplifies outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry.

Francophone Prize
Winner: MAMMOUTH 2019
The Francophone Prize is awarded to the jury’s highest-scoring French-language video submission.

Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content
Winner: Baroness von Sketch Show 
The $25,000 Rogers Prize is awarded to the highest-scoring Canadian program or property in the Rockies International Program Competition across two rounds of independent jury review.

Grand Jury Prize 
Winner: Fleabag
The Grand Jury Prize recognizes the “best in show” from all Rockies International Program Competition winning entries.

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Cardinal, Kim’s Convenience and Schitt’s Creek win during Night 3 of the 2020 Canadian Screen Awards Virtual Presentations

Cardinal, Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek and Baroness Von Sketch Show were among those who captured trophies during Night 2 of 2020 Canadian Screen Awards Virtual Presentations.

The Canadian Screen Awards, originally scheduled to air in March, moved online and was streamed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wednesday’s online ceremony celebrated Crafts in Scripted Programs, narrated by Evany Rosen and Kayla Lorette, and Scripted Programs and Performance, presented by Eric McCormack.

Here are the winners in Wednesday’s key categories:

Best Writing, Web Program or Series
Wendy Litner, How to Buy a Baby

Best Writing, TV Movie
Christina Welsh, Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Best Writing, Variety or Sketch Comedy
Baroness Von Sketch Show

Best Writing, Comedy
Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney, Letterkenny

Best Writing, Drama Series
Patrick Tarr, Noelle Carbone and Aaron Bala, Cardinal

Best Guest Performance, Drama Series
Dalmar Abuzeid, Anne with an E

Best Guest Performance, Comedy
Amanda Brugel, Kim’s Convenience

Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Kristen Thomson, Cardinal

Best Supporting Actor, Drama
Thom Allison, Killjoys

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy
Emily Hampshire, Schitt’s Creek

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy
Andrew Phung, Kim’s Convenience

Best Supporting Performance, Web Program or Series
Emma Hunter, How to Buy a Baby

Best Lead Performance, Web Program or Series
Emily Hampshire, Save Me

Best Web Program or Series, Fiction
Save Me

Best Lead Performance, TV Movie
Kate Drummond, Nowhere to Be Found

Best Lead Actress, Drama Series
Karine Vanasse, Cardinal

Best Lead Actor, Drama Series
Billy Campbell, Cardinal

Best Lead Actress, Comedy
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Best Lead Actor, Comedy
Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Golden Screen Award for TV Drama or Comedy
Murdoch Mysteries and Private Eyes

Best Sketch Comedy Show & Ensemble Performance
Baroness Von Sketch Show

Best TV Movie
Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Best Comedy Series
Schitt’s Creek

Best Drama Series
Cardinal

For the complete list of winners, visit the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television website.

Virtual Presentation Schedule:

Thursday, May 28, 2020

7 PM ET: Canadian Screen Awards for Cinematic Arts (Narrator: Théodore Pellerin)

Watch the Virtual Presentations on  Academy.ca, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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Baroness Von Sketch Show c-creators announce show’s fifth and final season

From a media release:

BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW co-creators Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen, today announced that their acclaimed CBC original sketch comedy series will return for its fifth and final season in Fall 2020. The series finale season (8×30) was filmed in Toronto last fall.

The Baronesses shared the following statement regarding their decision:

After five fantastic years, we have decided that Season 5 of Baroness von Sketch Show will be our last. We are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to share our deepest embarrassments, existential angst and daily observations with you, our fans. 

We hope you’ll enjoy Season 5 of Baroness von Sketch Show. 

Love, 

Carolyn, Meredith, Aurora and Jennifer.

BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW is currently nominated for five Canadian Screen Awards including Best Sketch Comedy Show & Ensemble Performance, Best Direction and Best Writing. Winners for these categories will be announced virtually on Wednesday, May 27 beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The virtual presentation will be live-streamed on the Canadian Academy Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels, as well as at academy.ca.

Canadians looking to revisit Seasons 1-4 of BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW before the premiere of the fifth and final season this fall can watch on the free CBC Gem streaming service.

Fast paced and irreverent, BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW celebrates the absurd, mines the embarrassing and satirizes our daily lives. Shot entirely on location, this single-camera comedy series takes a fresh look at our navel-gazing, contemporary culture. From marriage equality to screen addiction, Airbnbs to ultrasounds, this satirical sketch show captures the banalities and absurdities of modern life.

A CBC original series, BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW is developed and produced by Frantic Films. Drawing on 16 years of comedy experience and multiple collaborations, the award-winning, talented team of Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen are the writers, stars and executive producers. For Frantic Films, Jamie Brown is CEO & Executive Producer. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager of Entertainment, Factual and Sports; Trish Williams is Executive Director, Scripted Content; Michelle Daly is Senior Director, Comedy, Scripted Content; Greig Dymond and Karen Tsang are the Executives in Charge of Production.

The series is also broadcast on IFC in the U.S.

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