Tag Archives: Industry News

Blink Studios acquires the rights to Canadian author Charlene Carr’s upcoming novel ‘Hold My Girl’ for television series adaptation

From a media release:

In a competitive situation with multiple bidders, BLINK STUDIOS, the recently launched content venture backed by global film and TV studio Endeavor Content, has acquired the rights to “Hold My Girl”, the upcoming novel from emerging Canadian author Charlene Carr. BLINK STUDIOS will serve as the studio for the television adaption, which marks the company’s first project since launching in November 2021. Academy Award® and Emmy® nominated producer Michael London and Shannon Gaulding of Groundswell Productions (Snowfall, The Magicians) will executive produce the series together with Carolyn Newman and Virginia Rankin for BLINK STUDIOS.

“Hold My Girl” is a heart-wrenching, dual narrative women’s fiction novel about two women whose eggs are switched during IVF, only to be revealed over a year later when one of them has been raising the wrong daughter, and the other has been grieving a stillborn child that wasn’t hers. Centred around a moral question, the emotional story features themes of motherhood, racial identity, betrayal and ultimately hope and healing. The premise of the novel was very much inspired by Charlene’s own life – a Black woman who gave birth to a visibly white child via IVF – and stemmed from her own fears of a mix-up, that one day she too would receive a call to say her daughter wasn’t hers. “Hold My Girl” will be published by Welbeck Publishing in the UK and Harper Collins in Canada, set to release in 2023.

“We are committed to working with and discovering great Canadian voices which is why we are delighted to partner with an emerging and brilliant talent like Charlene to help bring her novel to television. Her exceptional storytelling is authentic and universal, while also embracing her Canadian roots,” commented Carolyn Newman, Executive Vice President, Global Scripted and Virginia Rankin, Executive Producer, BLINK STUDIOS. “We’re thrilled to team with Michael and Shannon, who are truly passionate about this material.”

“I am beyond thrilled to have Blink Studios and Groundswell Productions working on the screen adaptation of ‘Hold My Girl’,” commented Carr. “I was blown away by their enthusiasm, emotional connection to the story, and clear desire to keep as true to the book as possible. It is an honour to have such vastly experienced, skilled and passionate producers championing this story!”

“Charlene Carr has written the rare novel that is both a page-turning ride and a moving piece of literature that explores issues of motherhood and race in a hugely relevant way. We’re thrilled that Blink shared our passion for the material and moved so quickly and aggressively on our behalf,” Michael London, Founder/CEO Groundswell Productions.

Charlene Carr is a lover of stories. Pursuing this life-long obsession, she studied literature at university, attaining both a BA and MA in English, including a study program at Oxford. Still craving more, she attained a degree in Journalism. A bit of a nomad, she’s lived in four countries and seven Canadian provinces. After travelling the globe for several years and working as a freelance writer, editor, facilitator, and running her own Communications business, she decided the time had come to focus exclusively on her true love – novel writing. She currently lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, where she splits her time between writing, building relationships with her readers, and trying to keep up with the energy and antics of her young daughter. Recently awarded a writing grant by Arts Nova Scotia, “Hold My Girl” is Carr’s first agented novel.

BLINK STUDIOS is a newly launched content venture with Endeavor Content as its anchor investor and lead strategic partner. Focusing heavily on a creative-first approach, BLINK STUDIOS is dedicated to partnering with best-in-class writers, creators and producers, as well as aggressively pursuing IP in Canada and throughout the world. The indie studio is committed to applying significant resources to support new and diverse Canadian voices.

Charlene Carr is represented by Hayley Steed and the deal was brokered by Hannah Ladds, Dramatic Rights Agent at the Madeleine Milburn, Literary, TV & Film Agency.

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The Banff World Media Festival appoints Bron’s Brenda Gilbert as Vice Chair of the board

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) announced today Brenda Gilbert (above left), President of BRON Media Corp has assumed the role of Vice Chair of the Board. Lionsgate’s Kevin Beggs was recently announced as Board Chair. In addition, Justin Stockman (above, right), Vice President of Content Development and Programming, Bell Media has joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors, while long-standing members of the Board of Directors John Brunton, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Executive Producer Insight Productions Ltd; Ira Levy, Executive Producer, Breakthrough Entertainment; and Blair Miller Managing Partner, TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good are stepping down.

“We’re delighted to welcome BRON’s Brenda Gilbert as Vice Chair of the Board and Bell Media’s Justin Stockman to our BANFF family,” said BANFF Board Chair and Lionsgate Television Group Chair Kevin Beggs. “Brenda leads one of today’s premier production companies and shares our passion for impactful storytelling. Her business expertise and creative vision make her the perfect addition to the Board, and Justin’s strong programming background and relationships will contribute greatly in continuing to make BANFF an amazing event.”

“BANFF continually raises the bar in fostering creativity and business development throughout the industry,” said Gilbert. “I am incredibly honored to have been appointed Vice Chair of the Board and look forward to working with Kevin and the team to further enrich and diversify the global marketplace.”

“It is my distinct honour to join the esteemed Banff World Media Festival Board of Directors,” said Justin Stockman, Vice-President, Content Development and Programming, Bell Media. “I look forward to collaborating with Kevin, and my fellow board members as we expand the conversation around content creation and diversification and look toward to shaping the future of our industry in Canada and around the world.”

Additional members of the Banff Television Festival Foundation’s Board of Director’s include:

Kevin Beggs
Chair, Lionsgate Television Group, Lionsgate

Colin Bohm
EVP, Content and Corporate Strategy, Corus Entertainment Inc

Sally Catto
General Manager, Entertainment, Factual and Sports, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Sean Cohan
Chief Growth Officer and President, International, Nielsen Company

Tom Cox
Executive Producer, SEVEN24 Films

Valerie Creighton
President & CEO, Canada Media Fund

Sandra Dewey
Most Recently President, Business Operations and Productions HBO Max, TNT, TBS & truTV

Scott Henderson
Communications Executive

Jeniffer Kim
Senior Vice President, International Originals, HBO Max

Stephen MacDonald
President, Global Content Licensing & International, A+E Networks

Lisa Meeches
Founder and Executive Producer, Eagle Vision

Robin Mirsky
Executive Director, Rogers Group of Funds, Rogers Communications Inc.

About Brenda Gilbert
Brenda Gilbert is the President of BRON Media Corp, a company she co-founded and leads with her husband, Aaron L. Gilbert. The Vancouver based parent company has offices in Los Angeles, New York, London and Toronto. BRON Media Corp. is the parent company to operating units BRON Studios, BRON Releasing, BRON Digital, and BRON Ventures (holds an interest in a portfolio of 10 content companies). The BRON group of companies are industry leaders in production, finance and the sales and marketing of film, series television and animation.

Brenda has a special focus on BRON’s non-scripted arm BRON Life, and is currently an Executive Producer on several projects, including the Untitled Nicki Minaj series with HBO Max. Over her 20+ years in the media space, Brenda has produced, or executive produced more than two-dozen projects, including the recent animated film The Willoughbys, which premiered on Netflix in 2020.

Founded in 2010, BRON has been behind more than 100 productions and is proud to have been part of 27 Academy Award nominations and 6 Academy Award wins for the films: Fences, Joker, Pieces of a Woman, Greyhound, Bombshell, Roman J. Israel Esq., and Judas and The Black Messiah.

In addition to her role on BRON’s Board of Directors, Brenda sits on the board of Film Independent, she was the track chair for mentoring initiatives with Woman in Animation, is an Advisor to the Vancouver Film School and La Salle College, plus has volunteered her time with Vancouver Community College.

About Justin Stockman
As VP, Content Development & Programming, Justin Stockman is responsible for English TV programming including CTV, Crave, and Bell Media’s English-language specialty channels Discovery, MTV, E!, Much, CTV Drama, CTV Life, CTV Comedy, CTV Sci-Fi with a focus on developing groundbreaking new content.

Stockman’s role includes the ongoing negotiation and development of Bell Media’s Original Production programming content for all platforms with local producers and international studios.

Stockman also leads Bell Media’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, both internally as a member of the organization’s Diversity Leadership Council and with external partners like HireBIPOC, the definitive and ubiquitous industry-wide roster of Canadian BIPOC creatives and crew working in screen-based industries.

Formerly Vice-President, Brand Partnerships and Client Strategy on the Bell Media Sales team, Stockman role included oversight of the Sales team in leveraging Bell Media’s competitive advantage in content, production, data and platforms with clients, agencies, and internal stakeholders while driving new revenue opportunities through strategic brand integrations and data-driven client strategies.

Previously Vice-President, Premium SVOD and OTT, Bell Media, Stockman was responsible for strategy, management, programming, content licensing, merchandising, and marketing partnerships for Bell Media’s premium subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, Crave, Crave + Movies + HBO, and STARZ as well as driving direct-to-consumer revenue including customer acquisition and retention. Additionally, Stockman’s portfolio included oversight of English and French customer care centres for Crave, and Bell Media’s over-the-top (OTT) services including TSN Direct, RDS Direct, and STARZ, as well as Much Studios

Prior to this, Stockman worked as Vice-President, Specialty Channels, where he oversaw all brands and day-to-day activities affecting Entertainment Specialty Channels Much, MTV, Gusto, E!, Bravo, Space, The Comedy Network, and their complimentary digital networks, as well as Pay channels TMN and HBO Canada.

Stockman was previously Executive Director, Marketing, Specialty Channels, where he oversaw all brand-positioning, consumer and trade marketing, social media marketing, and social media communities for Bell Media’s Specialty properties.

Stockman has worked at Bell Media for more than a decade in various capacities including creative services and production as creative director, supervising producer, producer, writer, editor, and web designer.

In 2015, Stockman was recognized with the 2015 Digital Play of the Year by Playback.

Stockman graduated in 1996 from York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with Specialized Honours in Visual Arts Studio. In 2009 he earned his MBA through a joint program at Cornell University in New York and Queen’s University in Kingston.

Located in Banff, Alberta, Canada, BANFF is a premium marketplace and conference, an intimate space where unparalleled access, creative inspiration and expert insight combine to launch fresh content and new business strategies. Celebrating its upcoming 43rd year in 2022, the festival has grown into a must-attend annual event where media moguls, producers, creatives and industry stakeholders along with broadcasters and digital media companies tackle issues and trends, forge relationships and nurture partnerships in one of the world’s most stunning landscapes.

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Crave serves a third season of Canada’s Drag Race

From a media release:

Crave confirmed today that it has ordered a third season of its hit original series, which continues to be the top-performing Canadian title on Crave*. CANADA’S DRAG RACE is available to audiences in Canada in both English and French, and is produced by Blue Ant Studios in association with Crave and World of Wonder.

Canadian drag artists looking to show off their distinct brand of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent, can now submit their applications at www.crave.ca/canadasdragrace. Applicants must be 19 years of age by November 8, 2021, to apply, and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

Additional details about the new season will be announced at a later date.

In association with Crave, Season 3 of CANADA’S DRAG RACE will be produced by Blue Ant Studios. Executive Producers for World of Wonder are Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, and Tom Campbell. RuPaul serves as Executive Producer. Executive Producers for Blue Ant Studios are Michael Kot, Betty Orr, Michelle Mama (SHINE TRUE for VICE, Fuse, and OUTtv; and IN THE MAKING for CBC) and Laura Michalchyshyn. Trevor Boris (BIG BROTHER CANADA for Global TV; and PARADISE HOTEL for FOX) is Executive Producer/Showrunner. 

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Brooke Lynn Hytes presides over a panel of her queers in the Crave Original Series 1 Queen 5 Queers

From a media release:

All tea, no shade! CANADA’S DRAG RACE judge and the Queen of the North, Brooke Lynn Hytes, leads open, honest, and no-holds-barred conversations about all things queer in the new Crave Original series, 1 QUEEN 5 QUEERS. The eight-part series, which is also available to French audiences with subtitles, premieres with two episodes on Thursday, Dec. 9, with subsequent new episodes dropping Thursdays on Crave.

An update to the MTV Canada hit 1 GIRL 5 GAYS, which ran from 2009 to 2014, the new series presents fierce, fiery, and uncensored discussions about sex, relationships, pop culture, challenges facing the LGBTQ2S+ community, and more. Led by Hytes who moderates a panel that represents a variety of sexualities and identities, each half-hour episode of 1 QUEEN 5 QUEERS is focused on a single topic, and reflects the awareness and values of a new generation of viewers.

Segments featured on the series include: “Let’s Have a Kiki,” which invites queer people from around the world to share their opinions about the topics covered on the show; “Secret’s Out,” where a secret about one of the cast members is revealed and the others must guess who it’s about; “Come Again,” where the panelists are invited to discuss pivotal moments in their lives; and “Quick Shooter,” where one cast member must answer as many questions as they can, in one minute.

Some of the panelists joining Hytes on 1 QUEEN 5 QUEERS include: CANADA’S DRAG RACE guest judge and choreographer Hollywood Jade; Award-winning queer comedian Tricia Black; actor and retired professional hockey player Harrison Browne; model, activist, and multidisciplinary performer Ivory Conover; and lifestyle blogger Myles Sexton. Celebrity guests include: fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi; the first transgender woman to be cast in a transgender role on a daytime soap opera (GENERAL HOSPITAL) Cassandra James; and Peabody and American Film Institute Award-winner Our Lady J; a transgender woman whose credits include producer/writer on series such as TRANSPARENT and POSE.

In association with Crave, 1 QUEEN 5 QUEERS is produced by Bell Media Studios and distributed by Bell Media Distribution. Brooke Lynn Hytes serves as Executive Producer and Host.

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Former Entertainment One executives launch new Canadian-based content indie Blink Studios with Endeavor Content as lead strategic investor

From a media release:

Veteran executives John Morayniss (above), Patrice Theroux, Jeff Lynas and Nelson Kuo-Lee have reunited to launch a new content venture, BLINK STUDIOS with Endeavor Content as its anchor investor and lead strategic partner. Headquartered in Toronto with offices in Los Angeles, BLINK STUDIOS will operate as a full-service indie studio focused on the development, production and monetization of premium scripted and unscripted content for a global market. As part of Endeavor Content’s strategic relationship with BLINK STUDIOS, Endeavor Content will be BLINK STUDIOS’ priority distribution partner on a worldwide basis.

With its Canadian base of operations, BLINK STUDIOS will be deploying a significant portion of its capital to make investments in Canadian production companies focusing on both scripted and unscripted programming in all genres and formats. In addition, BLINK STUDIOS will put in place strategic deals with best-in-class writers, creators, producers and other related content enterprises, as well as aggressively pursue IP in Canada and throughout the world. As well, BLINK STUDIOS will apply significant resources to support new and diverse Canadian voices and will utilize its expertise, capital and extensive relationships to give diverse, unique and compelling stories an opportunity to reach a worldwide market.

“I am beyond delighted and energized to be partnering with my former colleagues, Patrice, Jeff and Nelson, in this new media enterprise,” said Morayniss. “And, of course, we couldn’t be more excited about launching Blink Studios with the commitment and support of Endeavor Content as our lead strategic investor. When we first began our discussions with Chris and Graham, we felt that there was an immediate understanding and alignment as to why we were so passionate about building a world-class Canadian indie and how we were going to achieve success with a new and improved creative-first approach and strategy. And, with Kirstine and Chris joining our board, we have some of the best strategic minds in the business. We can’t wait to get going!”

“We are thrilled to be in business with such a phenomenal team and to help support building a business that leans heavily into Canadian talent. Blink is set up to invest in both the most established producers and the incredibly exciting emerging voices coming from Canada – where huge opportunity exists,” said Chris Rice & Graham Taylor, Co-Presidents of Endeavor Content.

BLINK STUDIOS is in the process of assembling its creative and production team and will be announcing key hires in the coming weeks.

John Morayniss co-founded Canadian indie Blueprint Entertainment in 2002, and as CEO rolled up Blueprint with several other Canadian based media businesses that were then acquired by eOne in 2008 to launch eOne’s television business. John then led eOne TV, as its CEO, for a decade. Under his leadership, eOne established an unparalleled network of global television partnerships, delivered acclaimed scripted and unscripted series and grew its global sales operation to be among the best in the industry. Some of the most notable productions during his tenure include global hit series from The Mark Gordon Company The Rookie, created by Alexi Hawley; starring Nathan Fillion for ABC and Designated Survivor created by David Guggenheim starring Kiefer Sutherland for ABC and Netflix; as well as HBO’s Sharp Objects written/created by Marti Noxon, starring Amy Adams; Hell On Wheels, with Anson Mount for AMC; from Ilana Frank’s ICF Films Burden of Truth created by Brad Simpson, starring Kristin Kreuk for The CW and CBC as well as police procedural Rookie Blue created by Morwyn Brebner, Tassie Cameron and Ellen Vanstone for Corus and ABC; and non-scripted series including Naked and Afraid for Discovery; Siesta Keys for MTV; LA Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later for A&E; and worldwide distribution for AMC’s The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. His innovative deal-making, leadership and relationships worldwide resulted in the exponential growth of eOne’s television business in Canada and around the globe. Prior to Blueprint Entertainment, Morayniss was head of television at Alliance Atlantis, where he oversaw all development, production and co-production activities for the television division, including the mega-hit series franchise, CSI.

Patrice Theroux is one of the industry’s most respected film and television executives having built major distribution and production organizations for more than 30 years including Alliance Films, where he was Chief Executive Officer and Entertainment One where he served as President of Film and Television from 2007 to 2014 and guided the entry and growth of the company in all of its content initiatives. Having also produced more than 45 films and television programs, he is a member of the Producers Guild Association (PGA), the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

Jeff Lynas was responsible for all of the day-to-day operations for eOne Television on a global basis before leaving the company after a decade. He also led business development for the division, establishing and structuring new business relationships across production, distribution, and digital media. Lynas supported the growth of eOne’s U.S. non-scripted business, worked on transformative deals including the initial acquisition of The Mark Gordon Company and a multi-series output deal with AMC networks. Lynas joined eOne in September 2008 when the company acquired Blueprint Entertainment, where he served as senior VP. Before the acquisition, he played a key role in establishing Blueprint’s business in the U.S. and building relationships with producers and broadcasters.

Nelson Kuo-Lee served as Executive Vice-President of eOne’s Film and Television business and also held positions of COO and CFO before departing in early 2020. Kuo-Lee joined eOne in 2007 as it planned its launch as a content studio and was instrumental in shepherding its growth into a leading global independent; as COO, leading its early M&A efforts and its entry into film production and most recently as CFO, overseeing its finance transformation initiative.

Kirstine Stewart is an internationally award-winning leader with deep expertise working at the intersection of media and technology, and a reputation for turning around revenue performance and driving new market expansion on a global scale. Her work spans executive leadership roles with Twitter, Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Crown Family Media/Hallmark, the World Economic Forum, as well as other media corporations and technology start-ups. Stewart is presently the Chief Revenue Officer of Pex, a technology company backed by Tencent and Universal Music Group. Formerly at the World Economic Forum, Stewart headed the Future of Media, Entertainment, & Sport division, collaborating with C-level leaders from multinational enterprises to address emerging issues. Prior to joining the WEF, she served as President and Chief Revenue Officer for TribalScale, a global innovation and digital transformation firm, after leaving her post as Chief Strategy Officer for Diply, an early-stage tech start-up and content publisher that ranked #1 in Deloitte’s Fast50 Tech Growth Companies in Canada. Stewart initially entered the tech industry as the Founding Head of Canada for Twitter before taking on the role of VP Media for all of North America. As a prolific broadcasting industry leader, she was credited with catapulting ratings and launching into the digital market as CBC’s Head of TV, Radio & Digital. Prior to that, she served as Senior Vice President to grow the subscriber base for Alliance Atlantis, a media company with a portfolio of Canadian lifestyle channels including HGTV, Food Network, BBC Canada, National Geographic, History, and many others.

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