TV & Film News – Bell Media set to acquire French-language V network

Bell Media has entered into an agreement with the shareholders of Groupe V Média to acquire French-language conventional television network V along with its related digital assets, including ad-supported VOD service The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and financial terms were not disclosed. Maxime Rémillard, the president and founder of Groupe V Média, acknowledged that it’s become “increasingly difficult to ensure the sustainability of a conventional channel within a non-integrated group.” Groupe V also operates specialty channels ELLE Fictions and MAX, which are not included in the transaction. Read more here.

Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara

Schitt’s Creek has earned four Prime Time Emmy nominations. The CBC series, which airs on Pop TV in the U.S.,  landed nominations in the Comedy Series and Contemporary Costume category, in addition to nods for Eugene Levy (Lead Actor Comedy Series) and Catherine O’Hara (Lead Actress Comedy Series). Production just wrapped on the series sixth and final season which is set to start airing in January.

Simu Liu

Kim’s Convenience cast member Simu Liu has landed the role of Marvel’s first Chinese superhero Shang-Chi. Liu will star in upcoming feature film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Liu, 30, was born in China but raised in Mississauga, ON. He embarked on an acting career in 2012 after getting laid off from his accounting job. His credits include roles on Orphan Black, Bad Blood and Blood and Water.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan of Mississauga, ON has been cast as the lead in Mindy Kaling’s new, yet-to-titled comedy project for Netflix. Unrepresented when she landed the role, the Meadowvale Secondary School student beat out 15,000 others who responded to the open casting call.

The National Film Board (NFB) has postponed the release of its strategic plan amid an ongoing dispute between NFB commissioner Claude Joli-Coeur and a group of directors concerned about the organization’s spending priorities. ONF/NFB Creation, made up of over 250 freelance directors, says NFB continues to scale back production funding while administration costs and salaries continue to rise. The group is calling for more transparency and creator input into how funds are allocated.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) and DHX Media have launched a new program to support the development of Canadian kids’ and family content. The DHX-CMF Kids and Family Development Program, which is funded by DHX Media at over $1.4M for two years and administered by the CMF, aims to support new entrants to the production community as well as regional projects, creators in official language minority communities, and French-language producers. Half of the program’s funds are reserved for women-led projects. Click here to access the guidelines. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1.

The Canada Media Fund and the Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) of Argentina have established an incentive for the codevelopment of animated television series, and other digital media content between Canadian and Argentine creators. The total budget for the incentive is set at over $130,000 CDN with the total maximum contribution for each project $32,000. Click here to access the guidelines. Submissions close Oct. 31.

The Canada Media Fund and Film Fund Luxembourg (FFL), the body responsible for film funding and media business development in Luxembourg, have announced the relaunch, for the second year in a row, of the Canada-Luxembourg Codevelopment and Coproduction Incentive for Audiovisual Projects. Projects funded at the development stage must be drama or animation series, feature-length animation or digital media projects. The incentive also funds eligible digital media projects—specifically in the areas of virtual or augmented reality, transmedia or enabling technologies—at the production stage. The incentive’s annual combined budget is $900,000 CDN. Click here to view guidelines.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) will distribute $12 million in funding to 44 projects through three of its programs. A total of $4.3M will be invested in 16 innovative digital media projects through the first round of funding of its Experimental Stream’s Prototyping Program and an additional $1.6M are being invested in six projects through the Innovation Program: Limited Marketing and Promotion. A further $6.1M will fund 16 projects through the Francophone Minority Program. Click here to view a list of CMF-funded projects 

The Canada Media Fund has reopened the Corus-CMF Page to Pitch Program, with a program budget set at over $830K. Applications for funding can be submitted until Oct. 10. Now in its seventh year, the program is available to producers seeking funding for creative and business activities during the development of eligible live-action and animated television projects triggered by any CRTC-licensed Canadian broadcaster. It funds eligible costs related to story and script development as well as expenses related to the acquisition of pre-sale financing from foreign broadcasters and distributors. Click here to access program guidelines.

The Canadian Media Producers Association(CMPA) is expanding eligibility for its Indiescreen Awards nationally. The CMPA has called for applications for the annual awards, recognizing both established and emerging Canadian feature film producers, announcing that in addition to those with films screening at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), applications are now also being accepted from producers screening at the Calgary International Film Festival, FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival, and the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). The awards ceremony will take place during TIFF on Sept. 5. More on the application process here. 

Telefilm Canada is currently accepting Canadian entries on behalf of the Sundance Film Festival for the selection screenings of feature films to be held in Montreal Sept. 1-5. Open to narrative and documentary feature-length films (50+ minutes), world or international premieres only. Entry fees are waived for Canadian feature-length films submitted to the selection screenings held in Montreal. The deadline to submit is Aug. 22. More info on the Telefilm platform.

Telefilm Canada is currently accepting entries from Canadian production and distribution companies wishing to join the Canada Pavilion and attend MIPCOM 2019. MIPCOM is an international market dedicated to financing, co-production, acquisitions and sales of audiovisual content on all platforms. Preceded by MIPJUNIOR, (Oct. 12-13), MIPCOM annually attracts more than 13,000 industry professionals from 100 countries. More info here.

Ethnic Channels Group has secured a distribution deal for two Ukrainian channels – 5 Kanal and First National with Telus Optik TV. 5 Kanal is a popular nationwide news and information channel in Ukraine, positioning itself as the “Honest News Channel.” First National is Ukraine’s state broadcaster. Its programming focus is on almost all segments of Ukrainian society, including ethnic minorities, featuring information, scientific, cultural, entertainment and sports programming. Both channels are now on free preview.

CBC has announced the launch of a new slate of content for young adults ages 13-24 on the CBC Gem streaming service. The new slate includes CBC Gem original series Warigami (10×10), a contemporary samurai saga starring Emily Piggford (The Girlfriend Experience, Michael: Every Day), produced in partnership with The CW, First Love Films and New Form, and four short films produced as part of the CBC New Indigenous Voices training program, presented by the National Screen Institute, in support of emerging Indigenous filmmakers and creators. CBC will continue to add new original series each month including Utopia Falls (10×60), a young adult sci-fi drama infused with dance and music, produced in partnership with Sonar Entertainment and featuring music producer Boi-1da (Drake, Rihanna, Eminem, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar) as executive music producer.

Aurora Browne and Carolyn Taylor

CBC has announced broadcast and streaming premiere dates for its fall 2019 slate of new and returning original series. The fall schedule launches Sept. 16 on CBC and CBC GemAmong the highlights, Mystery Mondays return to CBC with new seasons of Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries (Sept. 16); new sketch comedy Tallboyz joins CBC’s Tuesday night comedy lineup beginning Sept. 17, along with new seasons of Still Standing, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Baroness Von Sketch Show; new hosts Aurora Browne and Carolyn Taylor host Season 3 of The Great Canadian Baking Show (Sept. 18); Battle of the Blades with host Ron MacLean will make its return to Thursday nights (Sept. 19); while The Nature of Things moves to Friday nights (Sept. 20). Heartland returns with new episodes Sept. 22, followed by Season 3 of Anne With An E; Dragons Den returns for a 14th season Sept. 26; CBC Arts: Exhibitionists returns for Season 5 (Sept. 20), in addition to Season 2 of immersive art docuseries In The Making (Sept. 27).

Gerry Dee

CBC has opened casting for Family Feud Canada, set to debut on the public broadcaster this fall. Based on the long-running game show, first introduced in the U.S. in 1976, international versions of the game show now air in 71 different markets, including the UK, Australia, France, India and Indonesia. Comedian Gerry Dee will host the new Canadian offering which will be broadcast four nights a week (Tues – Fri), starting Dec. 17. Read more here.

Floyd Kane

CBC says production is underway in Halifax on the second season of original one-hour drama Diggstown (6×60). Produced by Circle Blue Entertainment, Freddie Films Inc., and Waterstar Entertainment Inc. and created by Halifax’s Floyd Kane (Across The Line), the new season will premiere in winter 2020. Cory Bowles, Kelly Makin and Lynne Stopkewich are back as directors, with Sharon Lewis signing on as an additional director.

Crave’s Drag Race Canada (working title) has started casting for Canadian drag artists who’ll compete for a cash prize of $100,000 and the title of Canada’s First Drag Superstar. Competitors 19 years of age and older, who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents can apply here.

Evany Rosen and Kayla Lorette

Crave Original Comedy New Eden is currently in production in North Bay, ON with production slated to conclude in Brampton and Hamilton in mid-August. Spanning the 70s, 80s, and 90s over eight half-hour episodes, the series is a complex, true crime parody that begins in 1977, when two women played by Kayla Lorette (Kim’s Convenience, Space Riders) and Evany Rosen (PICNICFACE, Baroness Von Sketch Show), attempt to start large scale feminist utopia “New Eden.” In addition to Rosen and Lorette, Tony Nappo stars as a small town sheriff with a grudge and Caitlin Howden as a former commune member. The series is directed by Aleysa Young with Rosen and Lorette serving as showrunners. Slated to premiere on Crave later this year, New Eden is being developed in partnership with Peacock Alley Entertainment.

Bell Media Studios and Melbar Entertainment Group have joined forces on new feature documentary David Foster: Off The Record. The film about the 16-time Grammy Award-winning producer and composer is directed by Barry Avrich (The Last Mogul, Prosecuting Evil) and executive produced by Randy Lennox, Barry Avrich, Jeffery Latimer, and Marc Johnston. Currently in post-production, the doc will have a theatrical run before premiering on CTV and Crave. The film features interviews with Barbra Streisand, Lionel Richie, Michael Bublé, Celine Dion, Quincy Jones, Clive Davis, Josh Groban, Peter Cetera, Chicago, Diane Warren, and Carole Bayer Sager, among others.

Global has started production on Season 4 of Private Eyes. Along with co-starring in the series, alongside Jason Priestley, Cindy Sampson will take on the role of director for one episode. Returning cast include Jordyn Negri, Barry Flatman, Samantha Wan, Ruth Goodwin, Mimi Kuzyk, and Linda Kash, along with new faces including Canadian singer and ET Canada correspondent Keshia Chanté and Supinder Wraich (The Beaverton). According to Numeris data supplied by Global, the series is currently averaging over one million viewers each week.

OUTtv has acquired four new live stand-up comedy specials set to air this fall, in partnership with Producer Entertainment Group (PEG), the leading drag management firm. The specials include Trixie Mattel: Skinny Legend, Katya Zamolodchikova: Help Me, I’m Dying, Bob the Drag Queen: Crazy Black Lady and a new Alaska Thunderf*ck comedy special. OUTtv has also acquired the feature-length documentary The Queens from PEG, chronicling two years in the heels of four of the world’s most famous drag queens.

Viceland has ordered a second season of wrestling docuseries Dark Side of the Ring, which will air in Canada as a Crave Original series. Evan Husney and Jason Eisener return as executive producers. Season 1 will have its Canadian premiere this fall on Crave.

Sandra Battaglini

The Mayor of Comedy: A Canadian Stand-Up Story is set for release this fall, following Canadian comedian Sandra Battaglini as she interviews Canada’s top comics including Scott Thompson (Kids In The Hall), Debra DiGiovanni (Conan), Mark Forward (Fargo), and Aisha Brown (Terrific Women), among others. Filmmaker Matt Kelly promises to give viewers an all-access pass to the murky world of Canadian showbiz, where some of the funniest people in the country struggle to make a living.



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