TV & Film News – Bianca Andreescu win smashes audience records

Bell Media says Bianca Andreescu’s championship run at the 2019 U.S. Open smashed audience records. Preliminary data from Numeris, provided by the network, indicates her straight sets victory over Serena Williams in Saturday’s Women’s Final attracted a record average audience of 3.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched tennis broadcast ever on TSN and RDS and attracting a higher average audience than that of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. More than 7.4 million unique Canadian viewers tuned in to TSN and RDS to watch some part of the match. Audiences peaked at 5.3 million viewers at 5:59 p.m. ET in the second set as Andreescu secured the title to become the first Canadian singles player to win a Grand Slam championship. The match ranks as Canada’s most-watched broadcast since the Toronto Raptors clinched the 2019 NBA championship. In Toronto, the match had a share of 58% on TSN, meaning that more than half of all people watching television in Toronto on Saturday afternoon were tuned in to the Women’s Final.

CHEK Television on Vancouver Island is celebrating 10-years of local employee-ownership. A decade ago, the commercial television station was on the brink of going dark when Canwest Global slated it for closure. CHEK news staff organized a buyout of the station with about two dozen employees committing $15,000 each, amounting to a 25% stake in the station. With the help of investors, $2.5 million was raised. They’re now marking their 10th anniversary with special programming. In addition to hosting CHEK’s flagship newscast from 10 locations around Vancouver Island, there’ll be a celebration for staff, clients and community partners on Sept. 20. On tap will be a special CHEK Pilsner, brewed by Spinnakers of Victoria to mark the station’s decade of independence. CHEK Pilsner will also available for a limited time at select liquor stores, where part proceeds go to Jeneece Place, a home where children and their families can stay while receiving medical care in Victoria. CHEK News begins the new fall season with a brand new set built locally by Victoria’s Belfry Theatre. The station also recently launched a newly-designed website. 

Independent Film Channel (IFC) and Cosmopolitan TV (CosmoTV) will cease broadcasting in Canada on Sept. 30. Corus Entertainment is shutting down both discretionary services which will be removed from cable television lineups across the country.

Floyd Kane

Diggstown writer-producer Floyd Kane and Kim’s Convenience production company Thunderbird Entertainment were honoured at the fourth Sandi Ross Awards at TIFF Tuesday evening. Hosted by ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity Committee, the awards annually celebrate one individual and one company whose work demonstrates a commitment to inclusion on screen. Kane, is the creator, executive producer and showrunner on Halifax-set Diggstown, which stars Vinessa Antoine as a black female lawyer. Kane began his career in media as a production executive and lawyer with Salter Street Films, Halifax Film and DHX and has been a producer on That’s So Weird!, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Shake Hands with the Devil and Bowling for Columbine. Thunderbird Entertainment, founded in 2003, has garnered international acclaim for its Korean-Canadian comedy Kim’s Convenience. Initially commissioned by CBC, the comedy has been picked up by Netflix, Amazon VOD and Korean cable TV.

(l-r) Awards Jury Chair, Caitlin Grabham; Kevin Tierney Emerging Producer Award winners Fraser Ash, and Kevin Krikst; CMPA CEO Reynolds Mastin. Established Producer Award winner Felize Frappier and Established Producer Award Jury member Tonya Williams at the 2019 CMPA Indiescreen Awards in Toronto.

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) has announced the winners of its annual CMPA Indiescreen Awards. Montreal-based producer Félize Frappier (Max Films Media) received the CMPA’s 2019 Established Producer Award in recognition of her contributions to Canadian cinema, which include Marécages (2011), L’autre maison (2013), Corbo (2014) and Ville-Marie (2015). Frappier’s latest film, Kuessipan, premieres at TIFF on Sept. 8. Kevin Krikst and Fraser Ash of Toronto-based production house Rhombus Media were joint winners of the Kevin Tierney Emerging Producer Award, recognizing their talents as early-career feature film producers. Their second feature film, Clifton Hill, had its TIFF premiere Thursday evening. Their first feature, Closet Monster, premiered at the festival in 2015. Read more here.

Ellen Page, Joey Klein, and Megan Wennberg

Ellen Page (There’s Something in the Water), Joey Klein (Castle in the Ground), and Megan Wennberg (Drag Kids) are among the emerging directors to watch this festival season as nominees for the 2019 Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) Discovery Award. The long list of nominees includes Aisha Jamal (A Kandahar Away); Aisling Chin-Yee (The Rest of Us); Harry Cepka (Raf); Heather Young (Murmur); Jeff Barnaby (Blood Quantum); Matthew Rankin (The Twentieth Century); Nicole Dorsey  (Black Conflux); Sophie Bédard Marcotte (L.A. Tea Time); and Tasha Hubbard (nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up). Read more here.

The Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) has launched a recruitment campaign to bolster its membership among documentary filmmakers. Announced at the DGC Visionaries event at TIFF, the campaign includes sponsorships at film festivals across the country this fall that starting with “Doc Day” at the TIFF Industry Conference, and including Calgary International Film Festival, Sept. 18th; FIN Atlantic International Film Festival, Sept 19, Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), Sept. 26; and Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Oct. 9. As part of this initiative, the DGC will be waiving its initiation fee and offering 50% off annual dues through 2020 ($3,500 in savings). DGC Members will also gain access to the DGC Benefits health plan, preferred-rates on production insurance as well as the guild’s low management fee group RRSP.

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and Bell Media have announced Bruce Smith as the Executive Producer in Residence for the 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program. From September to December, Smith will lead the story room and the six television writers selected to participate in this year’s program as they work together to develop Smith’s original series. Smith was most recently creator and showrunner of Street Legal on CBC. Previously, he was the showrunner of CTV drama 19-2 and Cracked (CBC). The 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program participants are: Henry Campbell (BC); Imogen Grace (ON); Amy Halloran (QC); Rose Napoli (ON); Lori-Ann Russell (ON); and Ian Steaman (ON). Now in its 20th year, the program delivers a real-world story room experience and an intense professional and project development process for six TV writers a year. Its story room has helped develop several hit series including Travelers and Orphan Black. 

The Banff World Media Festival has opened its BANFF Spark Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media to applications. Supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada, the program offers training and mentorship to women entrepreneurs ready to grow or launch their own businesses in the screen-based industries. 50 candidates from Southern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia will be selected to participate in a hands-on business planning curriculum, facilitated networking opportunities, mentorship and access to potential investment partners through regional workshops in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, as well as a tailored stream of programming at the 2020 Banff World Media Festival. Read more here.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have announced a new funding incentive for the co-development of screen-based projects between Canadian and Scottish producers. A total of $300,000 CDN (approx. £185,000) is being made available to support the development of digital media and television projects. Click here to access the guidelines. To be eligible, television projects must meet the CMF’s definition of either Drama or Documentary programming or a codevelopment project created for digital platforms, including, but not limited to web series, video games, transmedia projects, virtual or augmented reality. The total maximum contribution for each project funded through the incentive is $50,000. 

The 20th imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival will present over 30 panels, workshops, and networking activities during its Industry Days, Oct. 22-26. With lead support from Netflix, Industry Days will take place in the new imagineNATIVE Industry Centre at the Artscape Sandbox. Netflix + You will follow the Opening Keynote (TBD) on Oct. 22, an update from the Indigenous screen organizations who have recently partnered with Netflix. imagineNATIVE presents its first Indigenous Series Day Oct. 23, exploring Indigenous series work in Canada and case studies from international series creators. Oct. 24 highlights include the return of Sesame Street which will announce a new program for Indigenous creators. Oct. 25 sees the return of International Networking Day, a full-day of one-on-one networking meetings between Indigenous creators and industry leaders. Industry Days concludes Oct. 26 with a day of panels including imagineNATIVE Animation Activation!, a two-part panel discussing production opportunities in animation, filmmakers presenting behind-the-scenes looks at their animation processes, and Docs: Truth & Ethics featuring Indigenous documentarians discussing the challenges of telling a true story on-screen and how they keep Indigenous values at the forefront of their storytelling. Full Industry Days programming will be released Oct. 2. 

Maddison Tebbutt

Open Screenplay, the free, first-of-its-kind online platform and community for global screenwriters that launched in January, has announced the winner and finalists in its short film contest. The winning screenwriter is Maddison Tebbutt for The Arrears, a horror set in the desolate Canadian Prairies of the 1800s. Vancouver-based Tebbutt wins a $2,000 cash award and will have her screenplay produced. The second prize winning script is Foundation, a dramatic love story through the ages. The public screenplay was collaboratively written on the platform by three writers who had never met before – Katlynn Sverko, Ross Lang, and Christopher Kerr. Third place was claimed by Tina Marie Singh for her script Forbidden Beasts. The winners were selected by an advisory board of Hollywood film executives and award-winning screenwriters. Founded by Canadian entrepreneur Khaled Sabawi, 855 screenplays are currently being written on the platform with the community growing to 5,300 global members. Open Screenplay has also introduced Reviews, so members can benefit from real-time feedback while they’re writing and once their screenplay is complete. Listen to our podcast with Khaled Sabawi here.

KilljoysSpace’s most watched original series – will end its run on Friday Sept. 20 after five seasons and 50 episodes. Seasons 1- 4 of the sci-fi series are currently streaming on Crave.

Thunderbird Entertainment Group is heading into the fall TV season with a record-breaking eight Thunderbird productions scheduled to premiere across platforms, including Netflix, Disney+, NBC Universal, Nickelodeon, PBS, WGBH, Bell Media’s Discovery, Corus Entertainment and the CBC. Atomic Cartoon productions include: Molly of Denali (airing on CBC Kids and PBS in the U.S.); Curious George: Royal Monkey (launching Sept. 10 on Digital, DVD and Hulu in the U.S.); LEGO: Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar (set for release Sept. 14 on Nickelodeon); The Last Kids on Earth (Sept. 17, Netflix, worldwide); Hello Ninja (Nov. 1, Netflix, worldwide); The Legend of the Three Caballeros (Disney+, Nov. 12); and 101 Dalmatians (Disney+, Nov. 12); From Thunderbird Factual: Highway Thru Hell (Oct. 8, Discovery Canada (Season 8); Heavy Rescue: 401 (Jan. 2020, Discovery Canada, Season 4); High Arctic Haulers (Jan. 2020, CBC, Season 1); $ave My Reno (Winter 2020, HGTV Canada, Season 3); and documentary The Teenager and the Lost Mayan City (currently in production for CBC’s The Nature of Things). The fourth and final season of Kim’s Convenience will also air on CBC in early 2020.

Super Channel will launch the second annual Heart & Home Christmas holiday programming event, beginning Nov, 1 and running through Jan. 7. Heart & Home Christmas will feature curated, Christmas-themed movies, with a total of 103 holiday features, 40 of which are new to Super Channel Heart & Home and 20 titles that will make their Canadian premieres. Sixty per cent of all Heart & Home Christmas content is Canadian including the new When Calls the Heart Christmas special, starring Erin Krakow, Pascale Hutton, and Jack Wagner, among others.

Pierre Bruneau

TVA and LCN will present French-language federal leaders debate Face-à-Face 2019 on Oct. 2. TVA news anchor Pierre Bruneau will moderate the two-hour event that will include Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, and Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc québécois.

Knowledge Network, BC’s public broadcaster, is set to debut a special that gives the animated hosts of Knowledge Kids Luna, Chip & Inkie – their own storyline. Set on the West Coast, The Festival of Wishes is a half-hour animated musical special featuring the local voice talents of Ashleigh Ball (Inkie), Shannon Chan-Kent (Luna), and Vincent Tong (Chip), with musical score by Daniel Ingram. Produced by Knowledge Network, in collaboration with Vancouver’s Mainframe Studios, the special is set to premiere on the network Sept. 21. Viewers across Canada can watch on demand at or via the free Knowledge Kids app. The special is the pilot for a series in development with production slated for 2020.

CTV has announced that it’s renewing The Amazing Race Canada for an eighth season. According to Numeris data provided by the network, Season 7 of the show drew an average audience of more than 1.9 million viewers weekly this summer, making it the top Canadian series of the 2018/19 broadcast year. Hosted by Olympic gold medallist Jon Montgomery, CTV says casting details for the upcoming season will be announced soon.

MaTV, Videotron’s Montreal community television channel, is introducing new English series Montréal Docs (Tuesdays, 9 pm), produced by the Montreal International History Film Festival. The series will present documentary films on the history of Montréal, mostly from the National Film Board of Canada. New series Urban Boxing (Tuesdays, 8 pm), created and hosted by Claudia Diaz and Ghislain Maduma, will tackle the prejudices surrounding the sport by taking viewers behind the scenes at boxing gyms in the Montréal area. Rockin’ Ages (Tuesdays, 7:30 pm) from series creator Wilma Magonet and her granddaughter Charlotte, aims to dismantle prejudices about aging by exploring life for Montrealers over 50.

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