Bell Media says it will end the operation of its Vrak channel, effective Oct. 1, following a decision by Quebecor-owned Videotron to no longer carry the channel. On-air for 23 years, the French-language speciality channel broadcasts primarily medical and legal drama series like Transplant and Chicago Med. Bell Media said in an announcement Friday that with Videotron’s move to drop the channel, it must “reassess the range of programming offered to its customers to comply with its objective of aligning the offer with its revenue potential,” also noting “an ever-changing operating environment” and an “obsolete” regulatory framework that “does not take current challenges into account.” Videotron is also dropping Bell Media sci-fi speciality channel Z from its cable offerings, while Bell is moving to omit pre-school channel Yoopa, operated by Quebecor subsidiary TVA Group. Read more here.
The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) has unveiled the nominees for its annual Indiescreen Awards, recognizing excellence among Canadian independent feature film producers. This year’s nominees for the Established Producer Award, which recognizes a producer or production team’s filmmaking accomplishments over the course of their career, accompanied by a $20,000 prize, are: Tanya Brunel – Coming Home (Wanna Icipus Kupi); Niv Fichman, Fraser Ash, Kevin Krikst) – Blackberry; Nancy Grant – Simple Comme Sylvain (The Nature of Love); Jason Levangie, Marc Tetreault – The Queen of My Dreams; and William Woods, Allison White – The King Tide. Up for the $10,000 Kevin Tierney Emerging Producer Award, celebrating a producer or production team’s early filmmaking achievements and career prospects, are: Anam Abbas – In Flames; Michael Tanko Grand – Satan Wants You; Alona Metzer – Backspot; Sean O’Neill – Swan Song; and Andria Wilson Mirza – The Queen of My Dreams. Read more here.
TIFF has announced additional honourees who will be receiving TIFF Tribute Awards at this year’s festival, including Brazilian filmmaker Carolina Markowicz who will be honoured with the TIFF Emerging Talent Award presented by MGM Studios, awarded in the spirit of Torontonian Mary Pickford. Two-time Academy Award–nominated Polish cinematographer Łukasz Žal will receive the TIFF Variety Artisan Award, which recognizes a distinguished creative who has excelled at their craft and made an outstanding contribution to cinema and entertainment. Both Markowicz and Žal will be honoured Sept. 10 at the fifth annual TIFF Tribute Awards gala fundraiser at Fairmont Royal York Hotel. On Sept. 15, TIFF will also honour Hong Kong entertainer Andy Lau with a Special Tribute Award at the World Premiere Gala presentation of Ning Hao’s The Movie Emperor, in which he stars.
ACTRA National and UBCP ACTRA will host solidarity rallies Friday in support of striking Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Writers Guild of America (WGA) members. SAG-AFTRA National Vice President, Los Angeles, Michelle Hurd will join ACTRA National President Eleanor Noble, and other ACTRA Members and sibling unions, for the 10 a.m. ET rally in downtown Toronto outside Amazon and Apple headquarters. The rally will be streamed live on ACTRA National’s Facebook page. UBCP-ACTRA will also hold a solidarity rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 11 a.m. PT to be streamed live on UBCP/ACTRA’s Instagram page.
Corus Studios and Nikki Ray Media Agency have started work on The Love Club Moms, the next chapter of the made-for-tv movie franchise. Set to premiere on W Network and STACKTV in 2024, The Love Club Moms will be represented internationally by Corus Studios. Production is currently underway in the Hamilton area until October. The four-part original movie franchise follows the romantic lives of four strong, successful women played by Ashley Newbrough (Love in Glacier National: A National Park Romance), Rebecca Dalton (Nurses), Genelle Williams (Family Law), and Nazneen Contractor (Children Ruin Everything) – as they juggle motherhood with trying to find their happily ever after. The Love Club Moms also stars Ryan Bruce (Let Him Go), Corey Sevier (Take Me Back For Christmas), Mark Taylor (Beyond Black Beauty), and Joseph Cannata (A Perfect Match).
Jean-François Roberge, Min. of French Language for Quebec, has announced a $4.9 million grant to Télé-Québec to produce a game show promoting the French language. Intended for a family audience, La langue dans ma poche will air weekly starting in winter 2024. Fifty-two half-hour episodes will be broadcast during prime time until Dec. 2025. Building on the success of Le français comme je l’aime, produced in 2021, a network announcement says “the concept aims to bring out the mobilizing side of our language, with its beauty, its thousand accents and its expressions.” The show will be hosted by Anaïs Favron and Mike Clay.
CTV’s newest daytime addition The Good Stuff with Mary Berg is set to air weekdays at 10 a.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, beginning Sept. 5. Taped in front of a live studio audience, the one-hour, daily talk and lifestyle series promises fun, food, and conversation. Berg’s culinary series Mary Makes It Easy, airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m., also returns to the CTV Life Channel schedule, starting Sept. 5.
Crave Original docu-comedy series, I Have Nothing drops Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. ET with all six episodes, immediately following a special screening event at the Just for Laughs Festival in Toronto featuring star Carolyn Taylor. Created by Taylor, and produced by Catalyst and Blue Ant Studios, in association with Bell Media, the series follows Taylor (Baroness Von Sketch) on a comical quest to choreograph the perfect, full-length pairs figure skating routine to Whitney Houston’s 1992 iconic hit song, “I Have Nothing.” The series will be available to Crave audiences in English and French. Motivated by a teenaged obsession for the 1988 Calgary Olympics that also sparked Taylor’s queer awakening, I Have Nothing is a nostalgic comedy that morphs into a high-stakes, real-life mission. Among the figure skating legends appearing are Sandra Bezic, David Pelletier, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Brian Orser, Kurt Browning, Paul Martini, Barbara Underhill, Katarina Witt, Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Adam Rippon, Elladj Baldé, and Elizabeth Manley, as well as award-winning comedian Mae Martin.
Crave has announced the return of original series Shoresy for its six-episode second season. The first two episodes drop Sept. 29, followed by one new episode every Friday. Created by and starring Jared Keeso, directed by Jacob Tierney and produced by New Metric Media in association with Play Fun Games, the half hour comedy sees fan favourite Letterkenny character Shoresy (Keeso), and the Sudbury Blueberry Bulldogs of the Northern Ontario Senior Hockey Organization (The NOSHO), continue their quest to never lose again. Joining the lineup this season are Frederick Roy (son of Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy), international pop star Rêve, Catherine St-Laurent (Tu Dors Nicole) and Jordana Lajoie (The Boys).
Global has announced fall premiere dates for its new and returning reality programming and Canadian scripted drama. Survivor is back for Season 45, featuring 90-minute episodes each week starting Wednesday, Sept. 27. Also on Wednesday nights, Robyn Hood, the contemporary re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend, produced by Boat Rocker and from creator Director X, debuts Sept. 27 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Global’s unscripted slate includes new series premieres Buddy Games from Josh Duhamel (Sept. 14), Lotería Loca, hosted by Jaime Camil (Oct. 2), and Raid the Cage (Oct. 13).
CBC has announced streaming and broadcast premiere dates for its fall 2023 slate of new and returning programming on CBC Gem and CBC TV. New Canadian original series include the Telling Our Story documentary series (Sept. 17), a TIFF 2023 selection sharing the perspectives of 11 First Peoples in Quebec; new limited drama series Bones of Crows (Sept. 20); Black Life: Untold Stories (Oct. 18 on CBC Gem and Oct. 25 on CBC TV), a docuseries reframing the complex histories of Black experiences in Canada; new limited series Blackberry (Nov. 9), an extended series version of the feature film; and docuseries Swan Song (Nov. 22) offering a backstage look at first-time director Karen Kain’s new production of Swan Lake for the National Ballet of Canada on the eve of her retirement.
CBC Gem is now available on the Roku platform in Canada. The addition of the public broadcaster’s streaming service gives Roku users access to more than 6,500 hours of free live and on-demand programming, joining Radio-Canada’s ICI TOU.TV service on the platform. Roku says with 76% of Canadians now fully streaming TV and 49% streaming live TV, the partnership underscores the ongoing shift in consumer viewer habits away from conventional television. Read more here.
GESPE’GEWA’GI: The Last Land returns to APTN for Season 2, a 10-part, half-hour documentary series about Mi’kmaq people on the East Coast whose lives are inextricably connected to the water. Season 2 will take viewers to four different First Nations in Mi`kma`ki: Listuguj (QC), Gesgapegiag (QC), Sipekne’katik (NS) and Pictou Landing (NS). The series premiere in English on APTN lumi on Aug. 29 and APTN on Sept. 5.
AMI (Accessible Media Inc.) has unveiled its AMI-tv schedule for the 2023-24 fall broadcast season, with a lineup of new and returning AMI originals available in described video for the blind, partially sighted and disability community. In addition to new seasons of AMI-tv’s live daily shows, NOW with Dave Brown and Kelly and Ramya, AMI invites viewers to join host Bobbi Janzen for a new crop of accessible exercises in Healthy at Home, engage in technology conversations via Access Tech Live, and learn about those driving positive social change through sport in Level Playing Field.
Movie Theatre Association of Canada (MTAC) and the Cinema Foundation, based in the U.S., are once again offering discounted admissions for the second annual National Cinema Day, Aug. 27. National Cinema Day brings together audiences to enjoy a day at the movies at a discounted admission of $4 (plus applicable taxes). The one-day only event will be held at more than 3,000 participating locations with more than 30,000 screens across North America. Participating theatres in Canada include Cineplex, Cinémas Ciné Entreprise, Imagine Cinemas, Landmark Cinemas, Magic Lantern Theatres, and other local independent theatres.