Tag Archives: Citytv

Preview: The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco

When ITV’s The Bletchley Circle premiered in the UK in 2012, it was a clever spin on a British specialty: the period whodunit.

Instead of Sherlock or Father Brown or Detective Foyle outsmarting murderers and villains, we had four female cryptographers who used to work at Bletchley Park. Feeling bored and boxed in by their post-Second World War lives, the women dusted off their code-breaking skills to outwit a London serial killer. Along the way, they also had to outplay many of the men around them—including homicide detectives and their own husbands—who were prevented by secrecy laws from knowing what they did during the war and wanted them to simply go back to who and what they were before the bombs started falling.

Many of those qualities are still present in the new eight-episode, four-mystery spinoff series, The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, which premieres on Friday, Sept. 14, at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv. However, a change of location and some intriguing new characters shake it up enough to make it feel fresh and worthwhile. Set in 1956, three years after the original series ended, sleuthing codebreakers Millie (Rachael Stirling) and Jean (Julie Graham) set off for the Bay Area to investigate a death that has shocking similarities to the murder of a young Bletchley Park colleague in 1942. Once there, they meet up with former American servicemembers Iris (Crystal Balint) and Hailey (Chanelle Peloso) and convince them to help track down who’s responsible for the killings.

Like the women in the original series, Iris and Hailey have struggled to find satisfaction in the post-war era. Jazz pianist and former codebreaker Iris now works in obscurity as a research assistant at Berkeley, while former weapons designer Hailey is desperate to find a new outlet for her mechanical genius. In learning about their lives, viewers also get a look at some of the social issues percolating in 1950s San Francisco. For instance, the first episode, “Presidio”— written by former Bitten executive producer Daegan Fryklind—gives viewers a taste of the historic Fillmore District, an area known both for its bustling jazz scene and for being targeted by various gentrification efforts. In an early scene, Iris’ son sets off to protest a plan to drive African Americans from the neighbourhood, and later, Iris’ former Presidio colleague laments that her Japenese American family was also driven out of the area.

Iris, in particular, breathes new life into the codebreaker conceit of the show, giving viewers a peek into the little-known history of black women in the Signal Intelligence Service. On that front, Calgary-native Balint gives a strong performance as a woman who has much to lose by going along with a couple of Brits who show up in her jazz club one night. Meanwhile, Vancouver-born Peloso is irresistibly plucky as eager go-getter Hailey. And what more can you say about Stirling and Graham? They were great in the first series and they’re great here. Graham is particularly good in a London-set scene where she learns her age and gender mitigate her smarts in the eyes of a young Foreign Service Office agent.

Speaking of London—and of San Francisco, for that matter—this series wasn’t produced in either location. It was filmed in Vancouver. However, there are enough shots of trolleys and Victorian houses to give it a convincing Northern California feel. There’s also a splash more colour and light in the production design when compared to its UK predecessor, highlighting both the change in climate and the contrasting post-war conditions of bomb-riddled London and unscathed San Fransisco.

As for the wisdom of transplanting a British show into an American setting and then shooting it in Canada, showrunner and executive producer Michael MacLennan points out that Canadians are “uniquely qualified” to act as translators of British and American sensibilities. And based on the screeners, he appears to be right. Produced by Omnifilm Entertainment in association with BritBox and World Productions, who made the original, the series retains its British pedigree while shining a light on some infrequently explored—and still painfully relevant—American stories. And it offers up some solid mysteries and compelling female camaraderie along the way.

The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Omnifilm

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Roger Petersen named co-host of Breakfast Television Toronto

From a media release:

Citytv announced today that Roger Petersen has been named co-host of Toronto’s longest-running morning show, Breakfast Television. Starting today, Petersen officially joins co-host Dina Pugliese, along with fellow newcomer Stella Acquisto, and the rest of the celebrated BT family of Frank Ferragine, Winston Sih, Melanie Ng, Tammie Sutherland, and Kerry Prunskus to wake-up the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. Breakfast Television airs weekdays from 5:30 to 9 a.m. ET on Citytv.

Petersen is a familiar face to Citytv audiences having covered some of the largest stories to unfold in his hometown – from the horrific van attack earlier this year to the G20 and G8, SARS and the Papal visit. Petersen joined the Toronto Citytv team in 1999, undertaking a variety of roles including reporter, anchor and host of the car show Autoshop. Petersen then moved to Vancouver to anchor CityNews at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., before moving back to his hometown as a CityNews Toronto reporter and anchor. Petersen began his broadcasting career in radio, having studied Radio & Television at Seneca College.

In addition to his broadcast career, Petersen also volunteers his time to many causes, including Cardiac Health Foundation and Victim Services, and is a proud father to son McKenna.

A member of the Citytv family since 2011, Stella Acquisto also joins the BT Toronto family as the community correspondent. A first-generation Canadian, Acquisto was born in Toronto where she studied Journalism at Seneca College and earned a Political Science and Communications Studies degree from York University.

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Hollywood Suite mourns the death of founder Jay Switzer

From a media release:

Canadian media industry legend and Hollywood Suite co-founder, Jay Switzer, died peacefully in Toronto on January 29, 2018 with his family at his side, after a too short, but courageous battle with brain cancer.

Jay was beloved and respected in both his business and personal life, and a dedicated, loyal, and loving husband, son, son-in-law, brother, and friend to many.

Jay was born to a life in television, raised with his dear sisters by two loving parents, both of whom were legends in the Canadian TV industry. Jay’s first introduction to the business came when his mother Phyllis asked her 13-year-old son to attend a CRTC hearing in Trois Rivières and bring back a report for her regulatory newsletter. When Phyllis co-founded Citytv in September 1972, 16-year-old Jay’s first full-time job was on the station’s switchboard. This was followed by regular Saturday nights as floor director assembling the boxing ring with his high school classmates on Citytv’s live “Fight Night” broadcasts. The pay was $1.50 an hour but he got to clean George Chuvalo’s spit cup.

After getting his MBA from the University of Western Ontario, Jay returned to Citytv on a full-time basis as Program Manager, the job that was truest to his calling, and one he never really let go of. His passion for great TV and film was contagious, and led to Citytv, and its offspring MuchMusic, Bravo!, FashionTelevision and many other CHUM channels, expanding across Canada and around the world. Jay rose through the ranks at CHUM over the years, ultimately being appointed CEO in 2002.

In 2010, Jay co-founded Hollywood Suite, where he served on the Board of Directors as Chair of the Canadian independent, privately owned broadcasting company.

Jeff Sackman, Hollywood Suite co-founder and current Chair of the Board of Directors says: “Jay defined friendship, loyalty, fairness, selflessness, and basic human decency. He will be proud to know that these traits have been passed on to so many others who will pay it forward, ensuring that Jay’s legacy is intact and the world will be a better place. Thanks for all you did for me! Love!!”

Catherine Tait, Hollywood Suite co-founder and Director says: “Amongst Jay’s many qualities was his unwavering support to women in an industry which has often turned a blind eye. He tirelessly promoted and encouraged so many of us – and we hold him in our hearts forever, in gratitude.”

David Kines, Hollywood Suite co-founder and President says: “On behalf of the staff, directors and investors of Hollywood Suite, we want to express our most heartfelt condolences to Jay’s wife, Ellen Dubin, and the Switzer family. Jay was a supportive and encouraging leader whose commitment and belief in the mission and people of Hollywood Suite never faltered, despite the many headwinds facing the broadcast business. His certainty in our success will be sorely missed by both myself and the staff and our industry.”

Jay’s quiet contributions and commitment to community and country have been recognized with awards including the Friend of Women in Film and Television (Toronto) Award (1994), the Queen’s Jubilee Medal (2002), and the Human Relations Award (2005) from the Canadian Centre for Diversity. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2017.

Jay is recognized by his peers as a media business and cultural leader, leading major broadcasting entities, mentoring emerging talent—both individuals and organizations—and advancing the quality and success of the Canadian broadcasting sector. As a mentor to countless independent producers and creators of Canadian works for the screen, Jay is celebrated as a champion of independent Canadian feature film and television production having supported more than 200 projects throughout his career.

Jay was an active board member serving organizations including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Banff Television Festival, the National Association of Television Program Executives, and the Toronto Film Board. He served as Chair of the board of GlassBOX Television from 2009-2011, and most recently served on the boards of: OUTtv; Shaftesbury Films Inc.; and Comweb Corporation. He was also a long-time supporter of Ryerson University, serving on the Advisory Board for the Faculty of Radio and Television Arts since 2012.

Funeral service details will be available here: http://www.benjaminsparkmemorialchapel.ca/. A public Celebration of Life will take place in the spring. Details will be announced at a later date.

Donations in Jay’s memory may be made to The Canadian Film Centre (http://bit.ly/CFCSwitzer or call 416-445-1446, x227) or to The Phyllis Switzer Memorial fund at Ryerson University (http://bit.ly/RyeUniSwizer or call 416-979-5000, x6516).

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Rogers Media expands CityNews across Canada

From a media release:

Building on its commitment to deliver more local news to even more Canadians, Rogers Media will expand its award-winning news program, CityNews™, across Canada, beginning September 4. Currently seen in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, the expansion ofCityNews will now include local versions of CityNews produced locally and airing daily on City, in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Montreal.

The one-hour newscasts will broadcast seven days a week with CityNews at Six at 6 p.m., and CityNews Tonight at 11 p.m. local time. Newscasts in Edmonton and Winnipeg will debut Monday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. local time. CityNews will expand into the Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary markets in Winter 2018.

Debuting in Toronto in 1975, the multi-award winning CityNews has been globally recognized as a trailblazer for news innovation, earning accolades for its local coverage including the esteemed RTDNA National Bert Cannings Award for Best TV Newscast in a Large Market in 2016. Late last month, CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan won the national RTDNA Adrienne Clarkson Award for Diversity in Reporting for her in-depth series on Danica Rain – a transgender Ontario woman who underwent gender reassignment surgery at a clinic in Bangkok.

Adding regional and national perspectives, complementary stories from Rogers Media’s sister brands such as Maclean’s, Breakfast Television, and Sportsnet will also be featured in the broadcasts. Viewers will also see news content delivered across all platforms, with each CityNews team engaging with audiences through their respective local websites and social media channels.

Additional programming details and on-air news talent will be announced in the coming months.

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Link: Canadian cable TV pioneer Israel “Sruki” Switzer dies at 87

From Etan Vlessing of The Hollywood Reporter:

Link: Canadian cable TV pioneer Israel “Sruki” Switzer dies at 87
Canadian cable pioneer Israel “Sruki” Switzer, who built and consulted on cable systems from the U.S. to Hong Kong and New Zealand during the 1970s and ’80s, died of a heart attack on Wednesday at his winter home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 87. Continue reading. 

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