TV & Film News – Bell unveils next evolution of Fibe TV

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Bell has unveiled the next evolution of Fibe TV which leverages Google Android TV technology. Fibe TV now provides access to over 7,000 apps from Google Play, including Crave, Netflix and Prime Video via voice remote powered by Google Assistant, and universal search capabilities across Fibe TV and supported streaming services. With added Cloud PVR capabilities, viewers can also store content for up to a year to watch at their own convenience. Read more here.

Lea Thompson & Stacey Farber

CTV and Entertainment One (eOne), together with Buffalo Gal Pictures, has announced that actress, director, and producer Lea Thompson (Back To The Future, Caroline in the City) and Canadian actress Stacey Farber (Virgin River, Schitt’s Creek) will headline upcoming CTV Original series, The Spencer Sisters. Created by Alan McCullough (Private Eyes, Rookie Blue) and executive produced and co-showrun by McCullough and Jenn Engels (Sort Of), the lighthearted 10-episode, one-hour series centres on a hot-headed former police officer (Farber) and her estranged, mystery novelist mother (Thompson), who become partners in a private detective agency. The Spencer Sisters is set to begin production next month in Winnipeg, with broadcast slated for 2023. 

CBC has announced broadcast and streaming premiere dates for its fall 2022 slate of new and returning programming, including 26 original series and specials from Canadian creators, producers, and storytellers reflecting people, places and perspectives from across the country. The new fall primetime schedule launches Monday, Sept. 12 on CBC TV and CBC Gem. Among the schedule highlights, The National returns anchored by newly-named Chief Correspondent Adrienne Arsenault on the desk, Monday to Thursday, and Ian Hanomansing continuing to host on Friday and Sunday. Family Feud Canada also returns with an all-new season Sept. 12, along with Murdoch Mysteries and Arctic thriller The North Water. CBC Gem originals this fall include the launch of Netflix co-production FAKES, premiering Sept. 1, while variety show LIDO TV, hosted by Colombian-Canadian musician and artist Lido Pimienta, gets its debut Sept. 23. 

CBC Gem will begin streaming a new documentary on Aug. 5 from Tiffany Ayalik and Caroline Cox’s Copper Quartz Media. Okpik: Little Village in the Arctic, shot in the Arctic and commissioned by CBC Manitoba, follows Kylik Kisoun Taylor and his team as they build a traditional Inuvialuit log cabin with a sod roof. The project was made in an effort to create housing security and an opportunity for language and cultural revitalization in the traditional territory of the Beaufort Delta. The film, to be released in both English and endangered language Inuvialuktun, is the first of its kind to be broadcast on a national streaming platform. 

Craig McMorris & Nikki Reyes

CBC, Insight Productions and The Gurin Company have announced production details for new original Canadian factual competition format, Canada’s Ultimate Challenge. Hosted by sports broadcaster Nikki Reyes and professional snowboarder and CBC Sports analyst Craig McMorris, the series is shooting this summer and will see the entire country turned into one giant obstacle course with challenges in Whitehorse, YK; Squamish, BC; Kelowna, BC; Hinton, AB; Sudbury, ON; Thousand Islands, ON; and Québec City, culminating with the finale on the Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and P.E.I. The series (8×60) is set to premiere on CBC and CBC Gem in winter 2023. 24 Canadians from across the country will compete with six Canadian athletes coaching and mentoring teams of four through physical and mental challenges. They include Olympic sprinting legend Donovan Bailey; Waneek Horn-Miller, co-captain of the Canadian water polo Olympic team in Sydney; Clara Hughes, six-time Olympic medallist in cycling and speed skating; three-time speed-skating Olympian Gilmore Junio; Jen Kish, former captain of Canada’s Olympic bronze medal-winning rugby sevens team; and Luke Willson, Super Bowl Champion with the Seattle Seahawks and competitive cyclist.

The HISTORY® Channel premieres Deadman’s Curse on Sept. 11 which sees four fearless explorers band together to solve the legend of Slumach’s lost gold mine, an Indigenous man rumoured to have discovered a lucrative stash of gold in the mountains of B.C. Distributed by Corus Studios, the series follows the team as they face extreme weather, unforgiving terrain, and a 100-year-old curse while chasing cryptic clues. Making up the group is prospector Kru Williams, mountaineer Adam Palmer, Indigenous explorer Taylor Starr and her father Don Froese.

Blue Ant Media has launched new free-streaming channel, HistoryTime. The channel will debut in the U.S. and Canada on LG Channels, LG’s free streaming service available on LG smart TVs. HistoryTime showcases stories and events that have shaped humanity, from ancient times to modern events. The launch of the channel builds on Blue Ant Media’s momentum and expansion into the emerging free streaming space, while also expanding its existing partnership with LG. HistoryTime’s exclusive programming across the U.S. and Canada includes: M.A.D. World, a contemporary examination of Cold War conflicts; Who Killed Gandhi? examining the murder of Mahatma Gandhi who ushered India to independence in 1947; Frank Lloyd Wright: The Man Who Built America, where renowned Welsh architect Jonathan Adams explores the cultural impact of Frank Lloyd Wright’s groundbreaking buildings; Fidel Castro: An Unauthorized Bio, exploring the Cuban dictator’s rise to power and his place in history; and Hitler’s Gold, which unmasks the people and organizations who bankrolled the Nazi Party. HistoryTime joins Love Nature, Total Crime, Homeful, and HauntTV in Blue Ant’s growing portfolio of FAST channels. 

Stingray has reached an agreement for the distribution of a suite of FAST channels on LG smart TVs. LG Channels’ users will have free access to Stingray Music audio channels across the most popular genres, including Classic Rock, Easy Listening, Everything ‘80s, Greatest Hits, Hit List, Hip-Hop, Hot Country, Pop Adult, Smooth Jazz, Soul Storm, and Spa, as well as Stingray Naturescape. For LG Channels on-demand viewers, Stingray will also curate popular karaoke tracks into genre-based playlists, and include a selection of Qello Concerts content. Stingray says the global smart TV market is estimated to reach $436.2 billion in value by the end of 2028. 

South Coast Jazz Festival, which is heading into its ninth year in Norfolk County, ON, has announced a five-year deal with Stingray DJazz Music TV. The platform is set to air a Special Edition of the festival, featuring performances and music from jazz legends Gene DiNovi, Dave Young, John Finley, the Lou Pomonti Trio, Charu Suri, Queen Pepper, Heather Bambrick, Aleef Mehdi, and Ben Duff. Co-hosted by Dini Petty, alongside founding director Juliann Kuchocki, the Special Edition release will be available in Fall 2022. Heralded by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best festivals in the world to watch online, South Coast Jazz was founded as a live event in 2014, pivoting swiftly to streaming amidst the global pandemic.

Gusto TV is available again in Canada after a two-and-a-half-year absence, thanks to a partnership with Samsung TV Plus, a free TV service pre-installed on all 2016-22 Samsung Smart TVs. In 2016, Gusto TV licensed the brand to Bell Media for use in Canada only. That agreement has now come to a close with the rebranding of the channel as CTV Life. Gusto TV is now seen on 40 platforms in 160 countries with content available in English, Spanish & Mandarin.

Cinelease now has a permanent presence in Canada as the grip and lighting rental house opens a location in Metro Vancouver. Servicing productions across the U.S. since 1977, the company has more recently begun providing lighting and grip equipment to Canadian filmmakers in a limited capacity. Cinelease is also the exclusive provider of Canadian-based LRX lighting products. Until now, it’s relied on shipping to support productions in Canada, but with the new permanent location will be able to offer a stable supply and consistent flow of new equipment that was previously unavailable. A Toronto location will follow this fall.

The Women in Post Program, which provides higher-level industry access and professional development for emerging to mid-level creatives working in all areas of post production, has extended the deadline to apply for its next offering until Sunday, July 31. Programming includes strategic learning modules, creative and technical skills building, and hands-on mentorship at a post production company or with a post production-related role. The Women in Post Program is presented by Netflix and supported by Canada Media Fund and RBC Foundation in support of RBC Emerging Artists, and industry partners Company 3 and Rocket Science VFX.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) is investing $7.3M in 28 documentary projects through its POV Program, designed to encourage one-off point-of-view (POV) documentary production for both English and French markets. 17 English language projects will receive a $5.6M investment, while the new French-language portion of the POV Program will deliver $1.7M to 11 projects. Production companies receiving funding through the program are based in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. Click here to view a complete list. Due to a lower number of applications for the initial round of the French portion of the program, $1.1M is still available for French language projects. The second round of funding will open on Sept. 13 for eligible projects with a confirmed Canadian broadcaster.