TV + Film NewsTV & Film News - Ferne Downey named ACTRA National Woman of...

TV & Film News – Ferne Downey named ACTRA National Woman of the Year

Ferne Downey

Ferne Downey is this year’s ACTRA National Woman of the Year. Downey is the Past President of ACTRA National, finishing an unprecedented eight-year term in May 2017. From 2012-21, she served as President of the International Federation of Actors (FIA), the first North American to lead the federation. She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of AFBS and as ACTRA’s representative since 2004. She has spent the past 40 years working as an actor in television, film, radio and theatre. In June 2017, Downey received an honorary Doctor of Laws for her “exceptional service to the community” granted by her alma mater Dalhousie University. ACTRA has bestowed its Woman of the Year honour each year since 2010, recognizing an ACTRA member who uses her passion to support ACTRA members and women within the broader audiovisual industry. 

(l-r): Emma Doyle, Sarah Blostein, Tamara Rigby-Funke, Beatriz Arevalo, Ginger
Martini, Jessica Kalan, Carmen Thompson, Louise Jobin, Luis Sequeira, (bottom row) Joanna Syrokomla (Awards
Chair), Keith Lau, John Dunnett, Laura DeLuca, Sue Furlong, and Anna Pantcheva.

The 2023 CAFTCAD Awards took place at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto on March 5. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds picked up a leading three awards, including Excellence in Crafts – Textiles, Excellence in Crafts – Building, and Costume Design in TV – Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Station Eleven and Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities also picked up multiple awards. Find the full list of winners and nominees here.

The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has announced this year’s nominees for WGC Screenwriting Awards including scripts from Sort Of (Jenn Engels, Kyah Green, Léa Geronimo Rondot), Fakes (Tabia Lau, David Turko), Transplant (Laura Good), The Porter (Marsha Greene), Subjects of Desire (Jennifer Holness), Brother (Clement Virgo), and Astrid & Lilly Save the World (Alix Markman, Veronika Paz, Betsy Van Stone, Noelle Stehman), among others. The 2023 WGC Screenwriting Awards will be handed out at a ceremony on April 24 at Koerner Hall in Toronto, the first in-person awards since 2019.

CTV’s ETALK has announced its coverage plans for the 95th Oscars, broadcasting live Sunday, March 12 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CTV,, and the CTV app. Oscars Sunday begins with the return of live red carpet special, ETALK Live At The Oscars at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT, leading into Countdown to the Oscars at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. The only Canadian outlet broadcasting live from the OSCARS red carpet, Tyrone Edwards will make his red carpet debut, anchoring ETALK’s newly expanded interview position – second only to host broadcaster ABC. From ETALK’s balcony position at the Dolby Theatre, Lainey Lui and Traci Melchor will have a bird’s-eye view of the red carpet action. The Oscars airs live from coast-to-coast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Blue Ant International has released new findings that point to the significant growth in the UK’s emerging FAST arena over the next four years. Conducted by technology research firm Omdia as a follow-up to its recent global study on FAST, the UK-focused findings reveal that FAST will account for nearly 20% of the UK’s $3B premium online ad-supported video market by 2027 (of which $500M will be attributed to FAST), set to quadruple over the next four years. New FAST trends highlighted in the report include that FAST viewing is a weekly habit for 15% of UK online viewers. In terms of content, news is the top FAST channel genre is the U.S., according to Amagi, with 33% of hours of viewing, 8% for movies and crime, 7% for entertainment and 3% for sports.

Spin Master has announced the debut of new, fantasy-adventure children’s franchise, Unicorn Academy. A Netflix-original animated series, produced by Spin Master Entertainment, it will begin with a 72-minute movie premiere and episodic content slated for release this fall, followed by a toy line, digital game and expansive licensed consumer product rollout in 2024. The series is adapted from Julie Sykes’ bestselling books.

CTV Life Channel and Crave delve into North America’s vegan food scene with the launch of new Bell Media Studios original series, Evolving Vegan, starting March 30. Hosted and executive produced by Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Evolving Vegan is inspired by his online project of the same name, which has evolved into a cookbook, and now, inspiring travel series. Throughout the six, one-hour episodes, Massoud takes viewers on a plant-based exploration of the food scene in Los Angeles, Austin, Mexico City, Vancouver, Portland, and Toronto. 

Paramount+, CBC and Piazza Entertainment have announced that production has begun on the sophomore season of medical drama series SKYMED. Filming in Ontario and Manitoba, the  original series will be available in Canada on CBC TV and CBC Gem, and stream exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and internationally in the UK, Australia, Latin America, Brazil, Italy, France, and Germany. Produced by Piazza Entertainment in association with CBC and CBS Studios, the series is created by Julie Puckrin and inspired by her sister and brother-in-law who met flying air ambulances. Cast joining the second season include Sydney Kuhne (Ginny & Georgia), Ryan Ali (The Hummingbird Project), and Nadine Whiteman-Roden (Faith Heist).


Fae Pictures is launching their first original premium drama short-form series, Streams Flow From A River, coming to Super Channel Fuse in Canada and launching On Demand beginning April 1. Directed by Chinese Canadian writer-director Christopher Yip (Fishboy), the six-episode short-form series is a character-driven drama about the invisible struggles immigrant families face while trying to make a home in the west. The Canadian Film Fest has announced Streams Flow From A River as an official selection, their first series in the festival, reflecting a need for more Canadian-made premium drama series. It will screen during the festival’s opening night, March 28 at 9 p.m. ET, exclusively on Super Channel. 

Lost Car Rescue (6×60) returns for a second season this spring, venturing deeper than ever into Canada’s remote wilderness in search of abandoned and valuable vehicles. Beginning April 19 on HISTORY Channel and STACKTV, the second season of the Corus Studios distributed original series follows Matt Sager and the Lost Car Rescue team as they journey 3,000 kilometres from their home base in British Columbia into Northern Alberta and Northwestern Ontario. Lost Car Rescue is produced by Boat Rocker’s Proper Television for The HISTORY Channel. 

Canada’s Got Talent returns to Citytv for a second season, premiering Tuesday, March 21. Reaching more than 7.6M Canadians during its inaugural season, the talent competition series spotlights 82 acts as they grace the Canadian stage, face the #CGT judges – Howie Mandel, Lilly Singh, Trish Stratus, and Kardinal Offishall – and compete to win the $150,000 grand prize. Hosted by Lindsay Ell, Canada’s Got Talent culminates in a live two-hour finale on Tuesday, May 16 from the new OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls.


Paxolotl Media of Saskatoon and Winnipeg’s Zoot Pictures are in production on CG-animated series, CHUMS, which will premiere on APTN and APTN lumi in early 2024. Revolving around a young Indigenous girl and her animal friends, the nine x 30-minute series was created by Dennis Jackson (Wapos Bay), who is directing and co-writing the scripts with his son, Eric, who is producing via Paxloti. Zoot Pictures’ Leslea Mair (Nikola Tesla and the End of the World) is on board as executive producer. CHUMS is being produced in English, Cree and Ojibwe, with all of the attached talent on the project Indigenous. 

APTN Investigates, is taking viewers inside corrections facilities to see what’s really behind the overrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada’s justice system. While Indigenous Peoples make up just under five per cent of the Canadian population, they now account for more than 32% of all incarcerated inmates. In the special four-part series, airing March 10 – 31, the APTN Investigates team brings viewers with them behind the walls of some of Canada’s most notorious prisons, including the Special Handling Unit (SHU) located within the Archambault Institution in Quebec, Canada’s only “supermax” prison. 

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