Tag Archives: Industry News

CBC and Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Zarqa Nawaz reunite for Zarqa

From a media release:

Award-winning Canadian film and television producer, author, journalist, and internationally renowned thought leader for Muslim women in media, Zarqa Nawaz, is delighted to announce the start of production on a new original comedy series for CBC Gem, ZARQA (6×11). Commissioned by CBC and financed by the Bell Fund, the Independent Production Fund (IPF) and Creative Saskatchewan (with the Canada Media Fund and IPF funding the show and trailer development phase), the series films in Regina, Saskatchewan from October 12 to 29 and will premiere on CBC Gem in 2022. International broadcast and streaming partners are yet to be determined.

Nawaz was the creator of the ground-breaking Muslim sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007-2012), which was widely recognized as the world’s first comedy about Muslims living in the West when it launched in 2007. The show premiered on CBC with record-breaking ratings and won awards at home and internationally. The series aired 91 episodes over six seasons, and was broadcast internationally in France, Switzerland, Africa, Israel, UAE, Finland, Turkey and more, and is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Nawaz’s next project is ZARQA; she is the creator, showrunner, and lead actor in the series. ZARQA follows its titular character, a complex, middle-aged Muslim woman (played by Nawaz) who learns on social media that her ex-husband is marrying a white yoga instructor half his age named Bethany. Zarqa impulsively comments that she will attend the wedding with her own cliché: a white brain surgeon named Brian. Now she just has to find him. Watch the trailer here.

The comical chaos continues with the arrival of Zarqa’s former love interest, Yusuf, played by Rizwan Manji. Manji received a 2021 Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Guest Actor for his portrayal of Ray Butani, Emmy-award-winning series Schitt’s Creek’s jack-of-all-trades. He is also well-known for his role as Rajiv Gidwani in the NBC comedy, Outsourced.

ZARQA, a project of Nawaz’s Regina-based production company FUNdamentalist Films, boasts a team of award-winning writers, producers, and directors, several of whom are diverse, and all of whom are women. Show writers – Zarqa Nawaz (Gemini award-winning Little Mosque on the Prairie, Me and the Mosque), Sadiya Durrani (Little Mosque on the Prairie, Overlord and the Underwoods, The Parker Andersons/Amelia Parker) and Claire Ross Dunn (Little Mosque on the Prairie, Degrassi, Falling For Look Lodge, Cupids on Beacon Street) – each wrote two episodes of ZARQA’s first season.

With the exception of Nawaz who is now stepping into acting in addition to a career in television production, all other ZARQA producers started their careers as actors. These include Dunn (producer for DHX’s Make it Pop for Nickelodeon, The Smart Woman Survival Guide for W/Cosmo TV), Dawn Bird (Producer of Beyond the Curve International Film Festival Best Queer Narrative Film Mercy, producer of Canadian International Film Festival’s Rising Star Award Winner Bread Thieves, TV series Why Am I?), and Liz Whitmere (producer of CSA Award-winning CBC Gem series The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island, Late Night in the Studio). ZARQA directors are Whitmere (award-winning shorts Up To Here, Cat’s Got Your Tongue, the original ZARQA trailer, Candy Fox (ahkâmêyimo nitânis / Keep Going, My Daughter, The Other Side) and Iman Zawahry (Emmy-winning short film Tough Crowd, Undercover, award-winning feature film Americanish).

ABOUT ZARQA NAWAZ
Zarqa Nawaz is a Canadian producer for film and television, a published author, public speaker, journalist, and former broadcaster. She created, wrote, directed, and produced episodes for the international CBC comedy series Little Mosque on the Prairie, which won a Gemini Award as well as Best International Television Series and Best Screenplay at the 2007 RomaFictionFest. The television series was inspired by Me and the Mosque, Zarqa’s ground-breaking National Film Board documentary which premiered at the Montreal International Film Festival, examining how patriarchal cultural traditions have become mixed up with theology.

In addition, Nawaz has sold four pilots to ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox Studios, has written a bestselling comedic memoir, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque (published by HarperCollins), was an advice columnist for The Globe & Mail, a broadcast personality for CBC Radio, the host of CBC Saskatchewan’s “The Morning Edition,” and anchored CBC Saskatchewan News at 6.

In addition to launching her new self-titled CBC Gem series in 2022, in which she stars, writes, and produces, Nawaz will also debut her new novel, Jameela Green Ruins Everything (Simon & Schuster Canada in Canada, and Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, in the U.S.). The new book is a satire about a disillusioned American Muslim woman who becomes embroiled in a plot to infiltrate an international terrorist organization and, in the process, reconnects with her loved ones and her faith.

A frequent public speaker on Islam and comedy, Nawaz received a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Saskatchewan for her interfaith work in the community. In recognition of her contribution to the world of arts, she received The Brampton Walk of Fame in 2019. Nawaz lives in Regina with her loving but long-suffering family and is the proud mother of four children.

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Canadian Academy announces participants selected for the inaugural edition of Women in Post

From a media release:

Today, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (The Canadian Academy) announced the six participants selected for the inaugural cohort of Women in Post, a program designed to address the barriers to entry and advancement for women in the post-production industry.

The Women in Post program provides industry access and professional development for emerging to mid-level creatives who identify as women or non-binary working in all areas of post-production. Participants will have the opportunity to develop their technical, creative, and leadership skills through strategic learning modules led by industry experts, and a hands-on mentorship at a post-production company in Canada that aligns with their area of expertise. The program participants will also receive a $2,500 honorarium; a complimentary one-year voting membership to the Canadian Academy; and invitations to attend Canadian Screen Week 2022 and the Canadian Cinema Editors’ EditCon 2022.

“We are honoured to welcome these talented professionals into the Canadian Academy family,” said Beth Janson, CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. “We are confident that this program will provide meaningful career advancement and opportunities for them, and are grateful to our partners for understanding the importance and power of having a diversity of voices and perspectives contributing in all aspects of our industry.”

The creators chosen for the first edition of Women in Post bring with them a range of experience from across the creative spectrum and were selected by a jury of industry professionals led by Nafisa Murji, Director of Talent Development at the Canadian Academy. The participants are:

  • Brittany Lewis (BC), Editing/ VFX Editing
  • Elian Mikkola (SK), Editing
  • Daniela Pinto (ON), Post Production Audio
  • Ariana Saadat (BC), VFX Supervision
  • Set Shuter (ON), Post Production Supervision
  • Penelope Walcott (ON), Post Production Audio

Company 3’s VP of Sales (Vancouver) Lindsay Elizabeth Donovan comments “Diversity in creativity is crucial for our industry and programs such as Women in Post are vital in helping correct inequities in the voices we hear and stories we tell. We are incredibly proud to be the lead post house partner for this program as we understand that opportunities to gain first-hand experience and develop skills through strong mentorship are necessities for creatives to build their careers.”

Women in Post is presented by Netflix and is supported by lead post house partner, Company 3, and supporting partners, Rocket Science VFX and Urban Prairie Post.

The Canadian Academy strives to foster industry growth, knowledge, inclusion, and mentorship through a series of talent development programs aimed at creating a more equitable and diverse Canadian screen-based industry. In addition to the Women in Post program, programs include the WarnerMedia Access x Canadian Academy Writers Program, a talent activation initiative focused on experienced Canadian writers from underrepresented communities, and the Canadian Academy Directors Program for Women, a professional development program intended to advance the careers of Canadian directors in the media industry. Additional talent development programs will be announced in the coming months.

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CTV Comedy Channel orders original comedy series, Acting Good

From a media release:

As announced today from Content Canada’s Digital Summit, CTV Comedy Channel has ordered the all-new original scripted comedy, ACTING GOOD, loosely based on the life of stand up comedian Paul Rabliauskas (THE STAND UP SHOW WITH JON DORE). Produced by Kistikan Pictures Inc., the series was co-created by Rabliauskas, who is also set to star in the series, Amber-Sekowan Daniels (DIGGSTOWN), Eric Toth (STILL STANDING), and Pat Thornton (FILTH CITY). The hilarious 10-part, half-hour comedy follows self-conscious and gullible Paul (Rabliauskas), who falls flat on his face in the big city and tries to slip back into life on his fly-in rez as if nothing happened. But his eccentric family is having none of it. ACTING GOOD is set to shoot on location in Manitoba early next year, with production and additional casting details to be announced in the coming months.

ACTING GOOD is set in the fictional fly-in reserve of Grouse Lake First Nation in Northern Manitoba, a community that lives by its own set of rules. The series is inspired by Paul Rabliauskas’ own isolated reserve of Poplar River First Nation, and the family and friends that inhabit the community. Pat Thornton, Amber-Sekowan Daniels, and Eric Toth are co-writers for the series along with Rabliauskas.

This all-new comedy series joins Bell Media’s robust 2021/22 development and production slate that includes drama series SULLIVAN’S CROSSING and LITTLE BIRD, as well as scripted comedy series DU ME A FAVOR and LETTERKENNY spinoff series, SHORSEY.

ACTING GOOD is produced by CTV Comedy, in association with Kistikan Pictures Inc. Producers are Tina Keeper (Kistikan Pictures) and Jennifer Beasley (Buffalo Gal Pictures) with Phyllis Laing (Buffalo Gal Pictures) as Executive Producer. Amber-Sekowan Daniels, Pat Thornton, and Eric Toth serve as co-showrunners.

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AMI announces production is underway on new documentary series Fashion Dis, hosted by Ardra Shephard

From a media release:

AMI, in partnership with Nikki Ray Media Agency (Fire Masters, Home to Win), is pleased to announce that principal photography has started on six Season One episodes of AMI-tv’s Fashion Dis in Toronto.

Fashion Dis promises to be a game-changer in the makeover space, challenging traditional norms that lack inclusion. Each episode of Fashion Dis celebrates the head-to-toe overhaul of a frustrated style seeker discouraged by an industry that lacks adaptive options.

From innovative clothing design to transformative beauty techniques, our expert team reveals the latest in fashion-forward thinking and shows those ready to rock their best body exactly how to do it.

“We’re thrilled cameras are rolling on Fashion Dis,” says John Melville, Vice-President, Content Development & Programming, AMI-audio/AMI-tv. “A program like this is long overdue and we’re proud to bring it to our viewers.”

Meet the experts

Ardra Shephard, host
Ardra is an influential Canadian blogger, speaker and leader in the Multiple Sclerosis community.

Bella Strange, makeup artist
Bella is a makeup artist catering to the LGBTQ+, disability and special effects communities.

Susan Shipley, hair stylist
Susan is a master stylist with extensive experience in accessible hair care services.

Izzy Camilleri, style expert
Izzy is one of Canada’s leading fashion designers and a pioneer in adaptive clothing.

Melonie Lawrence, art director
Melonie is a fashion stylist who believes great style can be achieved regardless of size, colour, creed or cash flow.

KC Armstrong, photographer
KC is an award-winning advertising, editorial and portrait photographer.

In keeping with AMI’s mandate of making accessible media for all Canadians, Season one of Fashion Is features Integrated Described Video (IDV) making it accessible to individuals who are blind or partially sighted.

Season One of Fashion Dis is being filmed under strict local COVID-19 protocols.

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CBC and Paramount+ order new scripted medical adventure series Skymed

From a media release:

Piazza Entertainment announced today production is underway on the new original drama series SKYMED for CBC and Paramount+, the streaming service for ViacomCBS. Created by Julie Puckrin, the serialized character-driven series features an ensemble cast of young talent including Natasha Calis (Nurses), Ace (Aason) Nadjiwon (Batwoman), Morgan Holmstrom (Siberia), Praneet Akilla (Nancy Drew), Thomas Elms (The Order), Mercedes Morris (Between), Kheon Clarke (Riverdale), Rebecca Kwan (Taken), Braeden Clarke (Outlander), and Aaron Ashmore (Killjoys). The series is now in production, filming in Manitoba and Ontario. SKYMED, produced by Piazza Entertainment in association with Paramount+, CBS Studios and CBC, will premiere in 2022-23.

Life, death, and drama at 20,000 feet, SKYMED weaves together intense character journeys and high stakes medical rescues as we follow the triumphs, heartbreaks and tribulations of budding nurses and pilots flying air ambulances in remote Northern Canada. They’re all in over their heads, and on their own, with no one to rely on but each other.

“This show was inspired by the real-life experiences of my sister and brother-in-law, who met flying air ambulances in the north,” says Puckrin. “Together with a talented team of writers, we created relatable characters full of hope, compassion, and resilience. I am thrilled to be working with such an incredible and diverse cast to bring these exciting, emotional stories to life.”

“Julie has brilliantly imagined these characters who are not only dealing with demanding, high-pressure circumstances, they’re also dealing with the ups and downs of their lives as they come into their own,” said Vanessa Piazza, Executive Producer, Piazza Entertainment. “We are proud to partner with Paramount+, CBS Studios and CBC and look forward to introducing these characters to audiences.”

SKYMED is produced by Piazza Entertainment. The series is created by Julie Puckrin who also serves as Executive Producer along with Vanessa Piazza and Ron Murphy. Steve Adelson serves as pilot director. From Manitoba, Kyle Irving and Lisa Meeches serve as Executive Producers for Eagle Vision. Jennica Harper and Nikolijne Troubetzkoy serve as Co-Executive Producers. Outside of Canada, the series will be distributed internationally by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.

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