Tag Archives: Bell Media

Ben Mulroney announces departure from Your Morning

From a media release:

As announced today on CTV’s YOUR MORNING, Co-Host Ben Mulroney is departing the national morning show to focus on a new career developing scripted and unscripted projects, following a 20-year career with the broadcaster. Mulroney’s last day on YOUR MORNING will be this Friday, October 1 on CTV.

“After 20 years, I have made the difficult decision to leave CTV and YOUR MORNING to pursue a career as a producer, developing unique projects for both Canadian and global audiences,” said Mulroney. “I have had an incredible run at CTV, but it’s time to take the leap and fulfill what has been a life-long dream for me. I look forward to connecting with Canadians in this new way and for the opportunity to develop ideas with Bell Media in the future.”

“Ben is regarded as one of Canada’s premier TV hosts, a broadcaster who helped to put Canada on the map in the world of entertainment news,” said Karine Moses, Senior Vice President, Content Development and News, Bell Media. “As Ben transitions from reporting on stories in front of the camera to telling stories from behind it, we look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with Ben again, and we wish him nothing but the best in his new venture.”

Ben joined CTV as an entertainment reporter for CANADA AM in October 2001, before joining ETALK in its debut season as Co-Host in 2002. Ben was also a member of the broadcast team for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, reporting on entertainment news for CTV, and was the host of CTV’s CANADIAN IDOL for six seasons, which at the time was the most-watched English-language Canadian television show on record. He became Co-Host of YOUR MORNING when it debuted in 2016.

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Jann Arden returns with “Fun, Farcical” third season

Jann Arden is back, and she’s in top form.

“I’ve never felt or looked better, you should see me,” she gushes over the phone when asked how she’s doing.

Arden’s just joking, of course, using her trademark self-deprecating humour to get through a long day of interviews promoting the upcoming third season of her comedy series, Jann. But all banter aside, the singer-songwriter-actor really is at the top of her game. She has a hit TV show, she’s recording a new album, and she’s planning an international tour for 2022—provided the world has “calmed the f–k down by then.” Things are going well for her.

The same can’t be said for Arden’s hilariously self-sabotaging TV alter ego.

In Jann’s Season 3 premiere, airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, we find fictional Jann holed up in her house with her mom Nora (Deborah Grover), surrounded by pizza boxes and enough home spa products to fill an Amazon warehouse. Apparently, the events of last season—firing her manager Cale (Elena Juatco), getting spurned by her girlfriend Cynthia (Sharon Taylor), and inviting Nora to live with her—have caused the singer to embark on a months-long online shopping spree, responsibilities and utility bills be damned.

“Things are kind of falling apart at the seams,” Arden says of TV Jann’s situation. “It’s hard for me to manage my life even when I’m by myself, so add my mother living with me full-time, being newly single, struggling with my career…it’s just a lot of chaos.”

And Jann isn’t the only one spinning out of control. Cale’s attempts to “ground” herself after getting sacked involve sleeping in the woods. She shows up on Jann’s doorstep dishevelled with twigs in her hair, prompting Jann to ironically scream, “How can anyone go so far downhill, so fast?” Meanwhile, Max (Zoie Palmer) and Dave (Patrick Gilmore) are finding it hard to run their household without Nora’s help, resulting in piles of laundry and their kids dressing like “Victorian orphans” for school picture day.

To get her life back on track, Jann hires personal assistant Trey (Tenaj Williams), commits to recording a new album from the heart, and starts dating a younger man (Charlie Kerr). Never mind that she poached Trey from Max and Dave’s nanny interviewees, can’t get funding for her record, and keeps running into Cynthia.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” says Arden. “But that makes it fun. It’s quite farcical.”

We phoned Arden at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver to learn more about Jann’s Season 3 antics.

Season 3 brings some new people into Jann’s life, including Trey, her personal assistant. Is she going to butt heads with him?
Jann Arden: I think Jann butts heads with anybody who tries to come into her life. Jann wants help, but she wants it on her own terms. So I think Trey brings so much fun because he deals with Jann in a very matter-of-fact way. He doesn’t put up with any crap. Plus, he really loves my mother, so they get along like a house on fire, and I’m kind of on the outside looking in. So I think you’ll see that, not unlike Cale, he’s constantly dealing with the complete lack of respect Jann has for the people around her. He and I together are very funny.

Speaking of Cale, it looks like getting fired has really sent her into a tailspin! I didn’t expect that.
JA: Well, she’s never been fired in her life, so she was probably raised by a Tiger Mother, perfectionism the whole way across. She’s not used to not getting her way, she’s not used to any kind of failure. It’s an unacceptable outcome to do anything in her life without it turning out exactly the way it was in her head. And what she finds, as a lot of people do in life, is that’s not how it goes. You have to face obstacles, you have to change, you have to face adversity and challenges, and Cale is Failure 101. She’s going down a road where she needs to figure out really what life’s about, and I love getting to explore a character like hers because like you said, no one expects to see Cale go on a journey of self-discovery and trying different things.

Cynthia turned down Jann’s marriage proposal at the end of Season 2, and Jann bounces back by dating a younger man later this season. I love the nonchalant way the show approaches her fluid sexuality.
JA: It is what it is. It’s a fluidity, it’s a person who absolutely dates whoever she wants and does what she wants and has no labels. And, you know, some people probably in the LGBTQ community would disagree with how we’ve approached it, but this is completely my doing, this is how I wanted to approach it and not ever make it into an issue for anyone.

On the contrary, Nora is quite taken aback that I’m dating a man. She’s like, ‘I thought you were done with men,’ she’s almost discouraging me from having a boyfriend, which is kind of the antithesis of what you think our society sort of tells us we should be doing. So my mother’s very much on Cynthia’s team. She would love to see us get back together. But I really find myself in sort of a throuple this year—I always think that word is so funny—but I’m literally playing two people, and I think that I can get away with it.

Nora’s storyline is very personal to you. What is going to happen with her this season?
JA: You know, the reason that obviously Nora is a character with Alzheimer’s is because of my own mother. Even before we started the show, I said that’s just a storyline that we need to tackle. Of course, my mother’s Alzheimer’s stretched over a 10-year period, and it was a very slow decline, it wasn’t rapid. So we feel that we have lots of time to uncover how dementia works, that it’s definitely varying degrees. No, a person can’t live by themselves, they can’t really be left alone. Nora has moments obviously where she’s there and she’s funny, but she also has moments when she doesn’t know where she is, she doesn’t know why she’s doing things, and that is the very frustrating part of memory loss.

[Having a loved one with Alzheimer’s] is not an easy thing, but it’s doable, it’s survivable. You’re never going to win against Alzheimer’s, you’re not gonna win the narrative, you’re not gonna win the fight, they’re not gonna get better. And that’s hard for people to admit to. And that’s why those control issues come in all the time, and my character’s always dealing with that because I think I can control the outcome of what’s coming, and I won’t be able to. It’s gonna be really interesting to see that unfold.

You’re very active on Twitter and frequently tweet about issues that are important to you. Are your followers ever shocked at how socially aware you are compared to TV Jann, who is so overtly self-involved?
JA: I don’t think so. I think that people who have followed along with my career the last 30 years, certainly the last 10 years or so of being on social media, know what I’m all about. Thank God I’m not TV Jann, her decision-making drives me crazy. She always makes terrible decisions, but that’s what makes it funny.

In my life, I’m not going to be one of those people sitting on my hands waiting for other people to do the heavy lifting, whether that’s in women’s health issues or animal welfare issues or voting or being vaccinated and worrying about the people around you and not just yourself. I don’t care. I block so many people every day, you have no idea. I don’t care what other people think, but I do care about how they feel. And that is two different things. So I’ll always be outspoken. I’m gonna kick my clogs someday, and I’m just not gonna go and leave this world quietly. At all.

Jann airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and CTV app.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Award-winner Mary Berg is back on TV with Mary Makes it Easy

There’s a reason Mary Berg has resonated with audiences and judges, first on MasterChef Canada and then with Mary’s Kitchen Crush. What you see is what you get with Berg, and you can’t help but cheer her on.

The two-time Canadian Screen award winner is back with her latest series for Bell Media, helming Mary Makes it Easy. Debuting Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CTV Life Channel, Berg brings viewers into her real-life kitchen for easy-to-make (and equally easy to tweak) recipes, delivered with her trademark smile and humour.

We spoke to Mary Berg about Mary Makes it Easy, what viewers can expect from Season 1 and what it’s like to be an award winner.

How did Mary Makes it Easy come about? Is this something that you pitched to Bell or was this a collaboration?
Mary Berg: I think it was a bit of both, to be honest. We definitely pitched it to Bell. It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a straight-ahead cooking show, in the kitchen, showing you how to make something, walking you through it, cooking show. And we definitely did that in Mary’s Kitchen Crush. With Kitchen Crush, it was about the end result. It was about the people coming over and making dishes inspired by people who you’re going to meet at the end, that was the payoff. In Mary Makes it Easy I think we did a good job at conveying this is it’s all about you and me in the kitchen together, because that is the biggest hurdle for most people. 

It’s not necessarily having someone over. It’s how do you make something for friends, or even just your family that you live with or even just yourself? It is a hard thing to do when there are so many other options. This is about you and me, the person who doesn’t want to be pulling their hair out at the end of it when their guests arrive. It is just about prepping and making delicious food and making it as confident-filled and comfortable as possible for everybody.

You’ve always made it very accessible with your ingredients. Has that always been something that’s been important to you? Just keeping it easy for the home cook? 
MB: Totally. When I write recipes, I want someone who’s experienced in the kitchen to not think, ‘Oh, this is an easy recipe,’ but I want someone who isn’t also to feel like I’m there with them walking them through. With ingredients, especially over the last year and a half, my cooking style changed kind of completely. I don’t go to the grocery store every day anymore. I go once every two weeks, pretty much still like I’m still on that kind of schedule and it’s totally changed the way I cook. This show has a lot more options for substitutions. There are a lot more suggestions for if you don’t have this or you don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not going to ruin the recipe. Make it yours because it’s about you.

How do you develop recipes?
I love recipe development and I love food science. Basically, I have this Nancy Drew-style notebook, a composition book that I write my ideas in. I write what I think is going to work. I write estimated measurements and I just think about flavours that I think would go well together. It’s summertime right now, so obviously, everything I do has peaches and tomatoes in it because both of those things go so well together. So taking cues from what’s at the market, what’s at the grocery store, even what’s on sale, and then trying to figure out ways to do it in exciting but accessible and accomplishable ways.

You film Mary Makes it Easy in your actual kitchen. Was that always the plan?
MB: This show was always going to be in my kitchen. I think I wanted to have people in my house [because] there’s a comfort level there that I think you can’t convey in a set in the same way. So having that and giving this whole show more of a comfortable, tight-knit, cozy, homey vibe, it feels a little more like you’re just hanging out at my, at my breakfast bar pretty much the whole time. 

I enjoyed the bloopers at the end of the first episode.
MB: Thanks, man! I wanted, throughout the show and throughout the episodes, to keep flubs in too. We kept things in where something goes wrong because that’s how it works. No one is perfect. In my world, in the kitchen, there’s no failing. You’re just like trying something and it might not work, but that means you learned how to make it not work. Sometimes things go wrong and you just roll with the punches and keep going.

Can you give me a hint about some of the upcoming episodes? The first is chicken.
MB: We’ve got 25 episodes, and it was really fun coming up with the ideas for each episode because we wanted to think of common issues in the kitchen. For instance, chicken. It’s a great staple, so we wanted to do one that with 100 percent all on chicken. The next episode is date night. The thing with date night is no, you shouldn’t make like a souffle. That is an insane thing to do when you’re trying to impress someone because it’s going to go wrong. You need to do things that are quick, really impressive, but also still look like you aren’t sweaty and you just had a crying fit on the floor before your date arrived. There’s get ahead recipes, there’s one-pot there are lunches, there’s baking, baking recipes for like real beginners. Like if you want to make bread, I’ve got the bread for you as a beginner and you want to make a cheesecake, I got the cheesecake for you.

You recently won a second Canadian Screen Award. How does that feel? 
MB: It’s one thing to put something out there and think that you really like it and that the folks at Bell Media really like it, but it’s another when people vote and you find out that the Academy really likes you too. So how does that feel? Um, mindboggling. Oatmeal brain is what I call it. The fact that the show also won is so huge because so many people worked so hard on it. I know everyone says this, but I truly did not expect it either time.

I was a participation ribbon kid. I was the kid who you’re playing soccer and I’d be like, ‘No, I’m going to sit down and find a four leaf clover.’ It is really exciting and thrilling to work so hard on something and have that peer and Academy-based recognition.

Mary Makes it Easy airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV Life Channel.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Production begins on the new Crave original series Pillow Talk

From a media release:

Crave, in association with KOTV Productions, announced today that production has begun in Montréal on the 10-part Crave Original series, PILLOW TALK. PILLOW TALK is an adaptation of Noovo’s hit French-language series ENTRE DEUX DRAPS, which is currently available on Crave.

Additionally, KOTV and Crave revealed today the full cast which consists of four, real-life couples who play fictionalized versions of themselves:

  • Nicola Correia-Damude (SHADOWHUNTERS, BURDEN OF PROOF) and Carlos Gonzalez-Vio (THE EXPANSE, ORPHAN BLACK);
  • Adam DiMarco (THE ORDER, THE MAGICIANS) and Sydney Scotia (LIMITED EDITION, REBOOT: THE GUARDIAN CODE);
  • Andrew Wheeler (SUPERNATURAL, Best in Show) and Sharon Crandall (The Kid Detective, Welcome to Marwen); and
  • Paolo Santalucia (KIM’S CONVENIENCE) and Gregory Prest (Angels in America).
  • Additional cast members who play a set of roommates include Chris Robinson (WORKIN’ MOMS, Odd Squad) and Kwasi Thomas (SNOWPIERCER, Altered Carbon).

PILLOW TALK is a 10-part comedy that takes place entirely in bedrooms. The series revolves around four couples, and one set of roommates, of varying ages and backgrounds. With a realistic tone, the dramatic comedy explores in a raw and unexpected way the drama and hilarity experienced by couples in the intimacy of the bedroom.

After a successful first season where it was one of the Top 10 performing series on Noovo, ENTRE DEUX DRAPS was renewed for a second season which premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 15 on Noovo and Noovo.ca.

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Season 3 of CTV’s hit original comedy Jann premieres Sept. 20

From a media release:

A heartwarming comedy about fame, fortune, and a diva in denial, CTV Original comedy series JANN returns for its third season Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app, beginning Sept. 20. Set and filmed in Calgary and featuring co-creator and star Jann Arden as a fictionalized version of herself, Season 3 consists of eight half-hour episodes.

A star that’s fading and a family in need of help, Season 3 of JANN is a period of new beginnings as Jann (Arden) takes her life, career, and relationships into her own hands – but will the same old antics ensue? After months without a manager and letting everything in her life (including paying the power bill) slide, she hires a personal assistant, commits to making a new album from the heart, and after her girlfriend refused her marriage proposal, starts dating someone new…a younger man.

Confirmed to guest star on the series’ third season is Grammy® Award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Michael Bublé as himself. Season 3 also features cameos from JUNO Award-winning Canadian indie pop band Tegan and Sara and Canadian singer-songwriter Bif Naked.

As previously announced, joining the cast of JANN in leading roles this season are Canadian actors Tenaj Williams (BIG SKY, WYNONNA EARP) and Charlie Kerr (SUPERNATURAL, THE MAGICIANS). Williams stars as Trey, Jann’s new personal assistant; while Kerr plays Nate, who finds himself in a love triangle with Jann and her ex-girlfriend Cynthia.

Also returning alongside Arden this season are Zoie Palmer (PURE, Spiral) as Jann’s sister Max; Deborah Grover (My Next Door Nightmare, THE SURREALTOR, GOODWITCH) as Jann’s mom Nora; Patrick Gilmore (Travelers; You, Me, Her) as Jann’s brother-in-law Dave; Elena Juatco (Escape the Field, SCHITT’S CREEK) as Jann’s fired manager Cale; Jason Blicker (UMBRELLA ACADEMY, Finding Hannah) as Jann’s former manager Todd; Sharon Taylor (BIG SKY, Bad Blood) as Jann’s ex-girlfriend Cynthia; Alexa Rose Steele (Friends Who Kill, Vicious Fun) as Jann’s eldest niece Charley; Ceilidh MacDonald as Jann’s niece Sam; and Keaira Pliva as Jann’s niece Frankie.

On the Season 3 premiere of JANN, titled “Help Wanted” (Monday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV), after months without a manager, Jann (Jann Arden) realizes she needs to take control of both her life and career – starting with hiring a personal assistant. But instead of advertising for one, she sits in on her sister Max’s (Zoie Palmer) nanny interviews to poach the best one for herself. Meanwhile, Jann’s ex-manager Cale (Elena Juatco) shows up and it’s clear being fired by Jann has broken her.

Seasons 1 and 2 of JANN are currently available for streaming on CTV.ca, the CTV app, and Crave, and in the United States on Hulu, in anticipation of the Season 3 premiere.

To date, the series has received seven Canadian Screen Award nominations, including a nomination for Best Comedy Series. JANN continues to be led in Season 3 by Emmy® Award-winning producer Andrew Barnsley (SCHITT’S CREEK); Ben Murray, President of Project 10; Tom Cox and Jordy Randall of Playback’s Production Company of the Year: SEVEN24 Films (HEARTLAND, WYNONNA EARP), and Randy Lennox. Season 3 is directed by Ron Murphy. JANN Co-creators are Jann Arden, Jennica Harper, and Leah Gauthier. Jann Arden and showrunner Jennica Harper are the recipients of a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award for Best Comedy Series.

JANN was co-developed by Bell Media and Project 10 Productions, and is produced in association with Project 10 Productions, and SEVEN24 Films.

JANN is created by Jann Arden, Leah Gauthier, and Jennica Harper who also serve as Executive Producers with Jennica Harper Showrunning.

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