Tag Archives: Sphere Media

Vivek Shraya’s How to Fail as a Popstar moves from stage to page to screen, with production underway on adaptation from Sphere Media and CBC

From a media release:

CBC and Sphere Media announced today that production is underway on How to Fail as a Popstar, a CBC Gem original series based on award-winning artist, author, and musician Vivek Shraya’s debut theatrical work of the same name, a one-person performance reflecting on the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments, and self-determination. The series stars Shraya, Adrian Pavone (Star Trek: Discovery, Grand Army), and Chris D’Silva (Slumberland, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Vivek at various stages of life. Written by Shraya, the comedy series is directed by Vanessa Matsui (Midnight at the Paradise, Ghost BFF) with Shraya co-directing one episode, with filming to continue in Toronto for three weeks. The series will premiere on CBC Gem later in 2023.

How To Fail as a Popstar is a coming-of-age, eight-episode limited series about a queer brown boy with a huge voice doing everything he can to become a Popstar – as told by the queer trans femme that boy becomes, looking back on how and why that dream was never realized.

The cast includes Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves (Sort Of, Y: The Last Man, Star Trek: Discovery), Nadine Bhabha (Letterkenny, This Hour Has 22 Minutes,Terror Train), Arwen Humphreys (Murdoch Mysteries, Run the Burbs), Eric Johnson (Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, American Gods, Vikings), Vanessa Matsui (Ghost BFF, Letterkenny, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments), and introducing ​​Aayushma Sapkota in her first role.

Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, and film. Her album Part-Time Woman was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, her music was featured on the acclaimed CBC and HBO Max show Sort Of, and her best-selling book I’m Afraid of Men was heralded by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel.” She is also the founder of the award-winning publishing imprint VS. Books, which supports emerging BIPOC writers.

The stage play How to Fail as a Popstar was written and created by Vivek Shraya and directed by Brendan Healy. The original production was commissioned and produced by Canadian Stage, Toronto, Ontario.

How to Fail as a Popstar is produced by Sphere Media with the financial participation of the TELUS Fund, the Bell Fund, and the Shaw Rocket Fund. In June 2020, the project was selected as one of the recipients of development support from the CBC Creative Relief Fund, a fund created by CBC to provide immediate support to Canadian creators at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Created by Vivek Shraya, executive producers are Bruno Dubé, Jennifer Kawaja, Elise Cousineau, Caroline Habib, Laura Perlmutter, Vivek Shraya, and Vanessa Matsui.

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Preview: CBC’s The Porter is an important story of Black history in Canada

The first thing that struck me about The Porter, CBC’s newest series—debuting Monday at 9 p.m.—was the sound. The flick of a lighter, the crackle of a tobacco cigarette igniting, the scrape of glass on a wooden bar. Then, it was the colour of the clothing, a peacock of brights, followed by the music. This, I told myself, was going to be different. And I was right.

Co-created by Arnold Pinnock and Bruce Ramsay, showrun by Marsha Greene and Annmarie Morais, and based on true events, The Porter delivers a rich and dramatic look at the Black community in St. Antoine, Montreal—known at the time as the Harlem of the North—the key characters who live in it and the relationship the community has with the train line between Montreal and Chicago.

The eight-episode journey begins in Montreal in 1921 and follows train porters Junior Massey (Aml Ameen) and Zeke Garrett (Ronnie Rowe, Jr.). While Zeke fights the railway to change how Black porters are treated by unionizing them, Junior takes advantage of the existing structure to pursue money and power through gambling and bootlegging. Meanwhile, Junior’s wife, Black Cross nurse Marlene (Mouna Traore), and club performer Lucy (Loren Lott) are set on different paths to a better life after an awful tragedy.

In CBC’s press material for The Porter, series creator, executive producer and writer Pinnock, an avid reader and history buff, first came across the story of the sleeping car porters and the first Black Labour Union. It resonated with him, and the first seeds of The Porter grew in his mind.

I’m a history buff as well, and a series like The Porter not only tells a story from Canada’s past but an important Black story from this country’s past. The Porter has been grabbing a ton of headlines for its storytelling, creative team, cast and crew. So, is it worth the hype? Absolutely.

The Porter airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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CBC and BET+ original series The Porter now in production

From a media release:

The highly anticipated start of production for Inferno Pictures and Sienna Films, THE PORTER (8×60), a CBC and BET+ original series, is now underway in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Shooting across various locations as well as in studio, THE PORTER continues until mid-September.

Exciting new additions to THE PORTER cast include Olunika Adeliyi (Titans, American Gods) and Loren Lott (American Idol, Tag). They join Aml Ameen (I May Destroy You, Yardie), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Star Trek: Discovery, Pretty Hard Cases) and Mouna Traore (Self Made, The Umbrella Academy) who were announced earlier this year. Plus, series originators Arnold Pinnock and Bruce Ramsay take on series regular roles of Glenford and Dinger, respectively.

Adeliyi portrays Queenie, the savvy, seductive and sinister crime boss in Chicago whose lavish lifestyle and power appeals to Junior, but at what cost?; while Lott plays headstrong Lucy, a talented performer who yearns for the spotlight as she battles shadeism and an instinct for music that’s out of step with the times.

Set in the roaring 20s, THE PORTER offers a dramatic and compelling look at the Black community in St. Antoine, Montreal, known, at the time, as the Harlem of the North. The story is told through the eyes of two Black train porters taking very different paths to liberation. One pushes to create the first Black union in existence, the other chases power on the wrong side of the law, but both have the same goal: to free themselves and their families from oppression. They’re young, gifted and Black, from Canada, the Caribbean, and the U.S., and they find themselves thrown together north and south of the colour line. In an era that boasts anything is possible, if change isn’t coming for them, they will come for it.

From Montreal to Chicago and at every stop in between, in a time of extraordinary social and political change, THE PORTER tells the story of the people who fought to ignite the civil rights movement in North America.

A CBC and BET+ original series, THE PORTER is originated and created by Arnold Pinnock (Altered Carbon, Travelers) and Bruce Ramsay (19-2, Cardinal), with Annmarie Morais (Killjoys, Ransom, American Soul), Marsha Greene (Ten Days In The Valley, Mary Kills People) and Aubrey Nealon (Snowpiercer, Cardinal), and produced by Winnipeg-based Inferno Pictures Inc. and Sphere Media’s Sienna Films. Morais and Greene are showrunners and executive producers. Charles Officer (Akilla’ Escape, Coroner) and R.T. Thorne (Blindspot, Utopia Falls) will direct the series, and are executive producers. Pinnock also serves as an executive producer, and Ramsay a co-executive producer. The series is written by Morais, Greene, Andrew Burrows-Trotman, Priscilla White, Pinnock and Ramsay, with Thorne participating in the writers’ room. The series is funded with the support of the Canada Media Fund and Manitoba Film & Music and is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights (AMR) and Sphere Distribution.

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BGM Sphere announces new pre-school series “Gabby’s Farm” to debut on TVOkids on May 17

From a media release:

Premiering May 17, 2021 on TVOkids, Gabby’s Farm is an engaging new preschool series from award-winning production company BGM, part of Sphere Media. TVOkids has also greenlit BGM’s Backyard Beats for a second season. This Canadian Screen Award-nominated music and arts series will be hosted again by Monica Brighton of That TVOkids Show.

TVOkids Original Gabby’s Farm (30×7) guides young viewers who are three-to-five years old through the world of farming and agriculture, encouraging their curiosity about nature, food, animal care and more. Hosted by Gabby, an adventurous six-year-old girl who’s passionate about farming, her family, and learning about all about the exciting things that happen on the farm, the series will give viewers a close look at all of the animals, equipment and activity that Gabby encounters on her family farm. Gabby’s Farm will introduce preschoolers to Gabby’s friends and neighbours, as well as farm activities like milking cows, riding tractors and exploring beehives.

Gabby’s Farm will be accompanied by the short-form series Count with Gabby! (20×2), which explores Gabby’s love of math and counting while exploring the farm.

BGM and TVOkids are also pleased to announced That TVOkids Show host Monica Brighton will return for season two of the Kidscreen Award-winning and Canadian Screen Award-nominated series Backyard Beats. Picking up on the fun and games from season one, Brighton will show school-age kids in Grades 1-3 how to create their own DIY “craft-struments” using common household items. She’ll also be joined by professional musicians who demonstrate their skills on various instruments.

Watch Gabby’s Farm on TVOkids and the TVOkids YouTube channel starting May 17, 2021. Season two of Backyard Beats will premiere Late Fall 2021.

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Aml Ameen, Mouna Traoré and Ronnie Rowe Jr. set to star in CBC’s The Porter

From a media release:

The first round of casting for CBC and BET+ original series THE PORTER (working title, 8×60) has been confirmed, with Aml Ameen (I May Destroy You, Yardie), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Star Trek: Discovery, Pretty Hard Cases) and Mouna Traoré (Self Made, The Umbrella Academy) to co-star in the 1920s drama. With the series set to start production in Winnipeg, Manitoba later this spring, more additions to the cast will be announced in the coming weeks.

Inspired by real events and set in the roar of the 1920s, THE PORTER follows the journeys of an ensemble of characters who hustle, dream, cross borders and pursue their ambitions in the fight for liberation – on and off the railways that crossed North America. It is a gripping story of empowerment and idealism that highlights the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the United States joined together to give birth to the world’s first Black union.

Ameen will portray ‘Junior Massey,’ an intelligent, smooth, ambitious and fearless risk taker and war veteran employed as a porter with the Transcontinental Railroad; alongside Rowe Jr. as fellow porter ‘Zeke Garrett,’ Junior’s friend and war buddy, who is calm, thoughtful and persistent to a fault in his fight for integration. Traoré will play ‘Marlene Massey,’ Junior’s wife who works with the Black Cross Nurses, an offshoot of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, risking resources and reputation to help her community and reach her full potential.

Set primarily in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit as the world rebuilds after the First World War, THE PORTER depicts the Black community in St. Antoine, Montreal – known, at the time, as the “Harlem of the North.” They’re young, gifted and Black, from Canada, the Caribbean, and the U.S. via the Underground Railroad and through the Great Migration, and they find themselves thrown together north and south of the color line, in an era that boasts anything is possible – but if change isn’t coming for them, they will come for it. By any means necessary.

A CBC and BET+ original series, THE PORTER is originated and created by Arnold Pinnock (Altered Carbon, Travelers) and Bruce Ramsay (19-2, Cardinal), with Annmarie Morais (Killjoys, Ransom, American Soul), Marsha Greene (Private Eyes, Ten Days In The Valley, Mary Kills People and Aubrey Nealon (Snowpiercer, Cardinal), and produced by Winnipeg-based Inferno Pictures Inc. and Sphere Media’s Sienna Films. Morais and Greene are showrunners and executive producers. Charles Officer (21 Thunder, Ransom, Coroner) and R.T. Thorne (Blindspot, Utopia Falls) will direct the series, and are executive producers. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers. The series is written by Morais, Greene, Andrew Burrows-Trotman, Priscilla White, Pinnock and Ramsay, with R.T. Thorne participating in the writers’ room. The series is funded with the support of the Canada Media Fund and Manitoba Film & Music and is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights (AMR) and Sphere Distribution.

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