The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) has announced the nominees for the 2023 Rockie Awards International Program Competition, recognizing excellence in television and digital media from around the globe. The BBC leads nominations by company with 21, while FX Networks, National Geographic / Disney Branded Television, and Warner Bros. Discovery each garnered five nods. The U.S. leads nominations by country with 52, followed by the UK (41), and Canada (37). Among the Canadian nominations are Sort Of (CBC, HBO Max, Sphere Media) which is up for Comedy Series: English Language; The Porter (Sphere Media, Inferno Pictures) for Drama Series: English Language; and Ice-Breaker: The ’72 Summit Series (Adobe Productions, White Pine Pictures) and The Grizzlie Truth (Crossover Films, Five One Films, Grand Scheme, Christie Street Creative, UNINTERRUPTED Canada) in Sports Documentary. Read more here.
Prime Video has greenlit two new seasons of LOL: Qui Rira Le Dernier?, with stand-up comedian, actor, writer, director, and producer Patrick Huard (Bon Cop Bad Cop, Starbuck) returning as host of the Canadian Amazon Original series. Featuring a cast of French-speaking comedic actors and stand-ups competing to make each other laugh first, the Quebec version of the global comedy format will be shot in Montreal by producers Attraction and made available exclusively on Prime Video in 240 countries and territories. LOL: Qui Rira Le Dernier? is an adaptation of Documental, the successful Japanese Amazon Original series created by and starring Hitoshi Matsumoto.
Prime Video’s Quebec-set series Three Pines won’t see a second season. Starring Alfred Molina as Inspector Armond Gamache and based on the Louise Penny novels, the cast also included Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Rossif Sutherland and Sarah Booth. Three Pines was produced by Sony Pictures Television-owned Left Bank Pictures (The Crown), its first series for Amazon.
CaribbeanTales Media Group (CTMG) has begun principal photography on new comedy web series, Garvey’s Ghost, based on the memoir of Canadian radio trailblazer Denham Jolly. A businessman, publisher, and civil rights activist, Jolly was the founder of Canada’s first Black-owned radio station Flow 93.5 (CFXJ-FM). Garvey’s Ghost will explore Jolly’s early years as he arrives in Toronto in 1955 and rents a room in Miss Violet Williams’ boarding house. The project is the creation of showrunner and award-winning director, Frances-Anne Solomon. Among the cast are Jamaican Canadian actor Richard Walters (Degrassi: Next Class), who will play young Denham Jolly; Melanie Nicholls-King (The Wire) as Miss Violet Williams; Peter Williams (Stargate SG-1) as famed Black activist Harry Gairey; and Mary Walsh (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) as Mrs. Murphy. The six-part series is one of two CaribbeanTales projects going to camera this year inspired by Jolly’s 2017 memoir, In The Black. A feature film is also in the works focused on telling the story of his decade-long struggle to secure a broadcast licence. Read more here.
TSN’s live coverage of NCAA March Madness is underway, culminating with the national championship games on Sunday, April 2 (women’s) and Monday, April 3 (men’s) on TSN, TSN.ca, and the TSN app. Kate Beirness and Daniel Zakrzewski host the network’s coverage from the TSN studio, alongside analysts Jack Armstrong, Leo Rautins, and two-time NCAA women’s basketball champion and Seattle Storm guard Kia Nurse. Former NBA player and head coach Sam Mitchell, former NCAA men’s and Canadian National Team player Jevohn Shepherd, and former NCAA women’s basketball player Tamika Nurse also contribute analysis throughout the tournament.
TSN has acquired Canadian broadcast rights for the National Women’s Soccer League, including the 2023 NWSL Championship, further expanding its roster of championship events. The network will deliver live English-language coverage of NWSL games on TSN and TSN+ throughout the 2023 NWSL season. Coverage kicks off on opening weekend with select games available on TSN+ on March 26.
The Weather Network has debuted a Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST) channel, available at launch to five million Samsung TV Plus viewers. The FAST channel will feature a new morning show tailored to a streaming audience, with hosts Matt Di Nicolantonio and Michael Vann covering the biggest weather stories from across Canada and the globe. In addition to a selection of in-depth features, educational programming, and shorts, a variety of Canadian-produced series will also be available to stream, including Storm Hunters, renewable energy docuseries Power to the People, and viral weather video explainer Captured. Pelmorex Corp. plans to expand the channel to other FAST services throughout the year. Read more here.
OUTtv, the Canadian-headquartered LGBTQ+ television and streaming service, is expanding with the launch of a linear channel in South Africa. Offered on Openview Ultra, a new Pay TV offering with a subscriber base encompassing three million homes, OUTtv has previously experimented with pop-up channels in the South African market in 2018 and 2020 on DSTv and Showmax, respectively. South Africa further expands OUTtv’s reach as the channel continues to move into new territories and platforms. Already available in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, OUTtv is available as an Apple TV channel in the U.S. and Canada, on Amazon Prime in Canada and Australia, and as a Roku channel in the U.S. Read more here.
Blue Ant Media has launched its free, advertising-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel, Love Pets. The new pet-themed channel debuted on Sling Freestream across the U.S. and will be rolling out on additional streaming platforms in the coming months. Programming highlights on Love Pets include: The Shelter: Animal SOS (6 x 30’) a look inside Dublin’s legacy animal shelter, the DSPCA; Pick-a-Puppy (48 x 30’), which follows families as they visit breeders and animal shelters in search of the perfect canine companion; Hope For Wildlife (111 x 60 + 26 x 30’), a look at the dedicated Nova Scotia wildlife rescue team, led by Hope Swinimer; and ER Vets (30 x 30’), following a group of veterinarians at a 24/7 trauma centre.
Hollywood Suite is commemorating Women’s History Month with a curated day of programming on March 30 by writer/director/journalist Chandler Levack. The films are set to air on Hollywood Suite’s 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s channels and available to stream all month on Hollywood Suite On Demand. Levack’s personal favourites include Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends, Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens, Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides and Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in addition to Joyce Wong’s Wexford Plaza and Grace Glowicki’s Tito — both Canadian features that shot for under $150,000.
Hot Docs has announced the first slate of films to screen as part of its Special Presentations program at the 2023 Festival, April 27 – May 7, in Toronto. International premieres include Black Barbie: A Documentary, a deep dive into the true story of Black Barbie, from her origins to contemporary presence; Food and Country, New York Times’ food critic Ruth Reichl’s uncovering of our broken food system and the innovators risking everything to transform it; Stephen Curry: Underrated, the story of the NBA player; and Periodical, examining the politics, science, and mystery of the menstrual cycle. Canadian premieres include STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie, portraying the Canadian icon’s rise to fame alongside his private journey following his Parkinson’s diagnosis. The full Hot Docs schedule will be announced March 28.
Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), in partnership with ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, has released the first-ever Accessible Writers’ Lab case study finding that long days and production overtime are among the barriers to getting more disabled creatives into Canadian writing rooms. The national lab included six writers with disabilities (a fraction of the 182 who applied to take part), as well as established showrunners and senior writers. It explored what an accessible TV writers’ room might look like, with an aim to creating more pathways for creatives in the disability community to thrive in the Canadian television industry. Led by disabled writer, performer and consultant Ophira Calof, among the groups’ key findings are that many disabled writers are routinely solicited as consultants on disability-focused productions, instead of being enlisted as credited writers. While virtual writing rooms have reduced barriers for writers living with a disability, the study found that changing overall attitudes around accessibility like providing engagement options outside of scheduled meetings and maintaining scheduled breaks were an often-requested accessibility measure. Read more here.
The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) has announced the return of the Executive Residency Program, an initiative introduced last February that aims to grant executive-level access for industry professionals who are Black, Indigenous, or persons of colour, to break down barriers for the next generation of creative executives. Applications are being accepted until April 17. The second iteration of the program will follow the same format, matching high-level executives (such as Vice Presidents, Executive Producers, Development/Production Executives, etc.) with emerging leaders, providing insight into how creative and business decisions are made on an executive level. Six to eight participants will be selected for placement.