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TV & Film News – Eternal Spring takes Grand Jury Prize at BANFF

Eternal Spring, Jason Loftus’ animated documentary about comic book illustrator Daxiong, was the big winner at the Rockie Awards International Program Competition at Banff World Media Festival (BANFF). Eternal Spring won the Grand Jury Award, in addition to the prize for Social Issues & Current Affairs. The $25,000 Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content was awarded to CBC/HBO Max comedy Sort Of, while ICI.TOU.TV’s Geomapping Love (Geolocaliser l’amour) won the Prix Francophone. The Emerging Talent Prize of $10,000, awarded to an outstanding short fiction or short non-fiction video submission not funded by a streamer or network, went to National Film Board (NFB) production Magical Caresses, a series of animated erotic confessions by Lori Malépart-Traversy. Magical Caresses also won Best Short-Form Non-Fiction Series. Read more here.

The Guild of Music Supervisors, Canada (GMSC) and Canadian Music Week (CMW) have revealed the winners of the 2023 Canadian Sync Awards, recognizing the craft of music supervision in filmed media. Cody Partridge of Pear Tree Music Supervision was the recipient of a leading three awards for his work on Crave series Shoresy, feature film Bandit, and the IIHF World Juniors broadcast. Marlon Knight was presented with “The Huey” award, in memory of legendary music supervisor David Hayman, bestowed upon an aspiring music supervisor who has passion for the craft.

Bell Media has dedicated a studio to Marilyn Denis, marking the 34 years of daytime television she produced there. Denis signed off from The Marilyn Denis Show for the last time Friday after 13 seasons on-air. Denis, 64, will continue on the CHUM 104.5 Toronto morning show, alongside Jamar McNeil, where she’s been a fixture for 37 years, in addition to being heard on Marilyn Denis Does A Podcast.

Crave is expanding its direct-to-consumer subscription offering with ad-supported tiers. Launching this summer, Bell Media says the new plans will give customers a range of options to access Crave content, with plan details and price points to be announced at launch.

Bell Media has unveiled its English and French-language original content slate for 2023/24, totalling 96 titles and 1,037 hours of original content. The network is upping the ante on reality series, including English and French-language versions of international format The Traitors, greenlit for CTV and Noovo, both hosted by Karine Vanasse (Cardinal). Comedian Russell Peters will host The RP4, a series of comedy galas for CTV Comedy Channel, and is also the subject of a new Crave documentary. New Crave Original series include sketch comedy offering The Dessert from Kids in the Hall’s Bruce McCulloch, and comedy series The Trades from the producers of Trailer Park Boys. Bell Media Studios has announced new daytime series The Good Stuff with Mary Berg.  

From L to R: Elsbeth’s Carrie Preston, Matlock’s Kathy Bates, Poppa’s House’s Damon Wayans Jr.

Global’s 2023/24 broadcast slate is led by new procedural drama Matlock starring Kathy Bates in the titular role. Also joining the lineup is new drama Elsbeth, starring Carrie Preston, based on and named after the fan favourite character from The Good Wife and The Good Fight. Also coming to Global is new medical drama Doc, based on the Italian format, and comedy Poppa’s House starring Damon Wayans and Damon Wayans Jr. Corus Entertaiment’s speciality lineup includes the premiere of Ted, a live-action comedy series based on the film franchise, with Seth MacFarlane reprising the voice of the iconic teddy bear; Based on a True Story, a dark comedic thriller starring Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina, following a realtor, a former tennis star and a plumber who seize a unique opportunity to capitalize on America’s obsession with true crime; limited drama series Apples Never Fall, based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel, starring Annette Bening, Sam Neill, Jake Lacy, and Alison Brie; and The Tattooist of Auschwitz, an adaptation of the best-selling book, starring Harvey Keitel.

Blue Ant Media has announced its 2024 original slate for its Canadian specialty TV and global FAST offerings. It includes new commission Holmes on Homes: Building a Legacy, featuring home reno pioneer Mike Holmes, in a reboot of his original franchise, this time joined by son Michael and daughter Sherry. The series will premiere on Cottage Life in Canada and also air on free streaming channel Homeful globally. Also greenlit is A Secret to Die For, commissioned for T+E and Total Crime, and Intervention Canada (Season 6), in partnership with A+E Networks, for Makeful. Rounding out the lineup are returning series, Haunted Hospitals and Mysteries from Above. 

Paramount+ has announced a Canadian content strategy in development, commissioned features and acquired programming. Paramount+ Canadian series in development include Hate The Player: The Ben Johnson Story, a scripted comedy from writer Anthony Q. Farrell and New Metric Media about the scandal that brought the “world’s fastest man”; Len & Cub, a limited six-part series dramatizing the true story of the secret relationship of two young men in rural 20th-century New Brunswick, from writer Lynne Kamm and producers Muse Entertainment and Elliot Page’s Page Boy Productions; Carpe Demon, a one-hour series based on the best-selling book series by Julie Kenner, about a suburban mom with a secret past as a Demon Hunter; They Drive At Night, a dark comedy about two best friends, a vampire and a werewolf, on a road trip across Canada; and Paramount+ Original Documentary 500 Days in the Wild from filmmaker Dianne Whelan (This Land, 40 Days at Basecamp), a solo self-recorded journey across Canada.

Corus Entertainment’s Waterside Studios, an IP and production venture focused on premium scripted Canadian content for youth and primetime audiences, has started production on new series Geek Girl (10×30), based on the best-selling novels by Holly Smale. Production is now underway in the UK with co-producers RubyRock Pictures and Aircraft Pictures and will continue in Canada later this summer. Slated to premiere on YTV and STACKTV in Canada and worldwide on Netflix next year, the series will be distributed globally by Nelvana thereafter.


marblemedia says its original, single-camera teen comedy series, Davey & Jonesie’s Locker has officially wrapped production in Toronto. From creator and comedy writer Evany Rosen, who serves as showrunner, the series is set to stream on Prime Video in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and on Hulu in the U.S.

Julie Kim

Pier 21 Films is partnering with Canadian comedian Julie Kim on a new half-hour comedy series in development at a major broadcaster. The development deal marks Kim’s debut at the helm of a sitcom and comes on the heels of her gala performance at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and a 40-theatre North American tour with Ronny Chieng (Crazy Rich Asians, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah). Kim will co-write the pilot with Strays alum, Clara Altimas. The show is a workplace comedy that follows a headstrong doctor (played by Kim) who, after losing the promotion of a lifetime as an emergency medicine physician in the U.S., finds herself back in her Canadian hometown, operating a rundown walk-in clinic.

Sphere has announced a change in its international film distribution activities. Operating under the Sphere Films brand, Sphere is refocusing its film distribution activities in Canada, and will cease its international sales activities as of June 16. Sphere Films International has enjoyed success handling distribution for films like Sophie Deraspe’s Antigone, Canada’s official selection at the 2020 Oscars, and more recently Viking (Stéphane Lafleur), Riceboy Sleeps (Anthony Shim) and Sweet As (Job Clerc).

ACTRA Toronto has partnered with Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada to launch the Permit Access Fund with the goal of reducing barriers and creating a pathway for performers from under-represented communities to access full membership within the union. The $25,000 bursary will cover 50% of the cost of up to 200 work permits for low-budget productions under ACTRA Toronto’s Low Budget Guideline (LBG), available to first-time and emerging producers working with emerging and diverse performers to create productions for theatrical or festival use. On their first qualifying work permit, a performer can join ACTRA as an Apprentice. On their third qualifying work permit, a performer can apply for Full membership. 

Nick Nemeroff

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) has announced Misdirect: The Nick Nemeroff Comedy Grant, a new initiative aimed at supporting emerging Canadian comedians who embody the spirit of the late Canadian comedian. The grant will provide a cash prize of $10,000 CAD to the winning comedian, intended to be utilized for their next television special, album, or other comedy-related project. Eligibility requirements will be announced prior to the opening of submissions this fall.

Canada Media Fund (CMF) has released early insights from the first phase of its #CanConDef research initiative at Banff World Media Festival (BANFF), which got underway Sunday. Reflecting a combination of online surveys and in-depth ethnographic interviews, the research involved the participation of over 2,500 Canadians from both the audiovisual industry and general public. Among its preliminary findings, a BANFF panel – moderated by CMF President and CEO Valerie Creighton – heard that for the public, instilling a sense of national pride and social cohesion is the most important objective in the redefinition of Canadian content. While industry respondents tended to agree that Canadian content is defined by its creators living in Canada, employing Canadians, and being owned by a Canadian production company, members of the public are more likely to consider geographical content elements like characters living in Canada, a location set primarily in Canada, and filming in Canada. Read more here.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) congratulated Canadian Heritage Min. Pablo Rodriguez at the 2023 Banff World Media Festival, lauding the passage of Bill C-11 and the CRTC’s ongoing work to update the regulatory framework. To recognize Rodriguez’s contribution to the industry, CMF CEO Valerie Creighton presented him with a special trophy to celebrate his leadership and vision in making the Online Streaming Act law. 

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