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TV & Film News – ACTRA stands in solidarity with striking SAG-AFTRA members

The SAG-AFTRA picket line in New York City on July 14, 2023. (@sagaftra/Twitter)

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) says its 28,000 members are standing in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) which began strike action for the first time in 43 years on July 14. Among the sticking points between AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) – representing more than 350 American television and film production companies – and SAG-AFTRA – representing 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals – are compensation improvements, including a residual structure tied to viewership data, secondary compensation and transparency around video game work, and a formalized effort to reduce vocal stress for performers, among other issues. In a letter to members, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland also noted the “existential threat” AI poses to creative professions, saying “all actors and performers deserve contract language that protects them from having their identity and talent exploited without consent and pay.” Read more here.

Martin Short, Luke Kirby, Lamar Johnson and Oliver Platt are among the Canadian actors nominated for the 75th Emmy Awards. Two-time Emmy-winner Short is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy for Disney+ murder-mystery comedy Only Murders in the Building, while Kirby is looking for another Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series win for his role as Lenny Bruce on Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He’s up against Platt, who received a nod for his role as Uncle Jimmy on FX’s The Bear. Johnson has landed his first nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor on a Drama Series for HBO’s The Last of Us. Other Canadian nominees include Montreal’s Antoni Porowski, one of the five hosts of Queer Eye, who has secured his fourth nod for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program. Find the complete list of nominations here.The 75th Emmy Awards are currently scheduled to air live on CTV on Sept.18. The 2023 Creative Arts Emmy Awards are set to take place at the Peacock Theater, Sept. 9-10. 

Bones of Crows led Motion Picture category wins at the 2023 Leo Awards, celebrating achievement in B.C. film and television. The film won 10 awards, including Best Program, Best Direction, Best Screenwriting, Best Cinematography, and Best Casting, among other awards. In the Dramatic Series category, Firefly Lane, Billy the Kid, and Kung Fu each picked up two awards, while Fakes picked up three awards in the Music, Comedy or Variety Program Series category. Find the full list of winners here.

Shamier Anderson and Stephan James, co-founders of The Black Academy, alongside CBC, Insight Productions, and Bay Mills Studios, have announced that award-winning TV host and singer Keshia Chanté is set to anchor the second edition of The Legacy Awards. The live 90-minute special will broadcast on CBC and CBC Gem on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. AT/9:30 p.m. NT). This year’s honourees, performers and presenters, will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana is selling Montreal-based animation software company Toon Boom to Integrated Media Company (IMC) for approximately $147.5 million CAD in cash. Colin Bohm, EVP of Content and Corporate Strategy, Corus, says after an enterprise-wide review of the company’s operating model and asset base, it’s exiting the animation software business. He says the move will free up capital, increase Corus’ financial flexibility, and sharpen its focus as it advances its strategic plan and priorities. Corus purchased a 50% interest in Toon Boom in 2004 and acquired the remaining 50% in 2012. The transaction is expected to close later in calendar 2023. 

Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) has established an AI Working Group to help guide the efforts of the guild in keeping abreast of technological developments; monitoring legal, regulatory and ethical concerns; seeking out training and professional development to keep members on the cutting edge of modern filmmaking; and gauging any potential risk to creative rights or narrative sovereignty, ultimately representing the interests of members on these issues in bargaining. Among the principles guiding the working group will be anticipating potential impacts of AI in all the job categories DGC represents, including the use of AI in combination with virtual production, visual effects, and pre-visualization software.

Ontario Green Screen (OGS) has released its five-year strategic plan to support the film and television industry in reducing its environmental impact. Among OGS’ goals are to foster collaborative partnerships with industry stakeholders to increase awareness of sustainable production practices; developing new educational resources; and promoting circularity across the industry. The program management team will work with the OGS Advisory Committee and relevant subcommittees to achieve those goals with annual reviews conducted to evaluate progress. 

Crave and APTN, in association with Pier 21 Films, Frantic Films Manitoba, and Sekowan Media, have started production in Winnipeg on new dramatic comedy series, Don’t Even. Created by Amber-Sekowan Daniels, directed by Zoe Hopkins, and starring Leenah Robinson (1923), Victoria Turko (Burden of Truth), Joel Oulette (Trickster), Gail Maurice, and Jennifer Podemski, the six-part series is an urban Indigenous, coming-of-age story. Don’t Even follows two best friends in late ‘90s Winnipeg as they grapple with their uncertain futures in the summer after their final year of high school. 

Crave, in association with Rollercoaster Entertainment and Blink49 Studios, have begun production in Nova Scotia on Crave Original comedy series, The Trades. From the producers of Trailer Park Boys, The Trades is an eight-part, 30-minute, comedy set in a working class community, where the stress and high risks of working in a refinery are balanced by the comedic antics of the plant workers. The series will be available in English and French. Rob Wells stars as a pipefitter who is proud of his working-class background. His sister, and roommate, Audrey (Anastasia Phillips, Moonshine), decides to follow in her big brother’s footsteps and pursue a career in the trades as a carpenter, just like their father Rod (Patrick McKenna, The Red Green Show). The series also features Tom Green, Jennifer Spence, Enrico Colantoni, Jason Daley, Jesse Camacho, Daniel Petronijevic, Brandon Oakes, Raoul Bhaneja, and Susan Kent

Go Button Media has revealed the first three factual series to be greenlit and in production, as part of the current 36-hour, six-series deal with Super Channel and distributor Off The Fence. The three new titles are Engineering Evolved, Cursed History and Revolutions That Changed the World, each comprised of six hour-long episodes. Engineering Evolved reveals the hidden stories of transportation technology. Cursed History explores the strange histories and legends of those who lived or died by a curse, from the tomb of Tutankhamun to the Hope Diamond, while Revolutions That Changed The World examines the rise and fall of empires, monarchs and military leaders, many of whom learned the hard way that power is far from absolute.

CTV Life Channel Original series Staying Inn: Hotel Julie debuts Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV Life,, and the CTV app beginning Aug. 7. The 10-episode half-hour series follows Creative Director Autumn Hachey, alongside interior designer Jillian Smith-Moher and a team of collaborators, as they work to revamp a 19th century inn into a luxury boutique hotel in Stratford, ON ahead of the city’s theatre season. Staying Inn is produced by Alibi Entertainment, in association with Bell Media. Joining the series on Monday nights on CTV Life is new series Country House Hunters Canada, a half-hour series following homebuyers looking for their dream homes in the Canadian countryside.

CBC Sports’ summer highlights include the World Aquatics Championships, streaming through July 30 from Fukuoka, Japan; the Rugby Americas North Sevens, streaming Aug. 19-20 from Langford, B.C., serving as the regional qualifier for the Paris 2024 Olympics; World Athletics Championships, Aug. 19–27 from Budapest, featuring more than 2,000 athletes from more than 200 countries competing in events including track & field, marathon running, and race walking; FIG Rhythmic Gymnastic Championships (Aug. 23-27); and Canoe Kayak Canada Sprint National Championships (Aug. 29-Sept. 2).

Pluto TV and Cineflix Rights have launched Cineflix’s first-ever single-brand FAST channel in Canada, featuring reality-TV stalwart American Pickers. Pluto TV in Canada is offering over 200 episodes of American Pickers on a dedicated channel, following series creator and professional treasure hunter Mike Wolfe and his crew as they crisscross the U.S. in a quest to recycle America. Cineflix Productions is currently in production of the 12th season of American Pickers for HISTORY US. Cineflix’s initial launch of genre-themed FAST channels includes Real Disaster Channel, Crime & Justice, and Property & Reno which draw from more than 1,000 hours of its library rolling out globally on various platforms.

Prairie Pants Distribution (Vérité Films and 335 Productions) has announced that all 107 episodes of the Corner Gas franchise and Corner Gas: The Movie are available for the first time in the UK on Samsung TV Plus on the Comedy Hub channel. Originally launched in 2004 on CTV, Corner Gas is distributed worldwide by executive producers Virginia Thompson and Brent Butt through Prairie Pants Distribution which also holds the distribution rights to Corner Gas: Animated, Corner Gas: The Movie and the sales agency rights to the original comedy series.

Slap Happy Cartoons has inked a deal with industry veterans Blair Peters and Nick Orchard to develop, finance and produce an animated series reimagining The Beachcombers. The series, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, originally ran on CBC television for 387 episodes over 18 seasons from 1972-90, and was licensed to over 35 countries worldwide, including the UK, Australia and Germany.

Asian Television Network (ATN) has announced it has acquired and renewed exclusive Canadian broadcast rights for Cricket West Indies for two more years. All games will be aired live on CBN and ATN Cricket Plus. Apart from the Cricket West Indies rights, ATN also holds the exclusive rights for New Zealand Cricket for the next season and will feature tours of Bangladesh, South Africa and Australia. 

The Hardy Boys (8×60) third and final season premieres July 31 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on YTV. New episodes will roll out every Monday and available to stream live and on demand on STACKTV. The Daytime Emmy-nominated and four-time Canadian Screen Award winning mystery series, based on the books by Franklin W. Dixon, is developed and produced in Canada by Nelvana and Lambur Productions, in association with Corus Entertainment. Filmed in Toronto and Southern Ontario, the series features an all-Canadian cast and crew. Alongside Rohan Campbell (Halloween Ends) and Alexander Elliot (Locke and Key) as Joe, Season 3 welcomes guest star Bailee Madison (Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, Just Go with It).

AMI has announced the launch of new AMI-tv series, Access Tech Live. Slated to debut Thursday, Sept. 14, at noon ET, Access Tech Live is a live weekly broadcast that promises an interactive experience for viewers, specifically addressing technology from the perspective of individuals with disabilities. Featuring live interviews, hands-on reviews and in-depth discussions, Access Tech Live is produced by Double Tap Productions, the same company behind the successful Double Tap TV, hosted by Steven Scott and Marc Aflalo, known for their deep expertise in the field of accessible technology.

A Stark Production and WildBrain, together with Infinite Studios, have confirmed new international broadcast partners for its animated series The Deep, based on the graphic novel series. As the series’ global distributor, WildBrain has secured new deals with Rockbot (US) for Season 1; Club Illico (Canada) for Seasons 1 and 2; RTE (Ireland) for Seasons 3 and 4; NRK (Norway) for Seasons 1, 2, and 4; and France Télévisions for Season 4. 

Hollywood Suite is the exclusive Canadian broadcast home for the four HBO Max Original documentary specials 100 Years of Warner Bros., premiering Sunday, Aug. 6. The specials explore the impact of Warner Bros. on art, commerce and culture. Narrated by Morgan Freeman and directed by Leslie Iwerks (The Imagineering Story, Recycled Life), 100 Years of Warner Bros. features over 60 interviews including: Kim Basinger, Candice Bergen, Linda Blair, Orlando Bloom, LeVar Burton, Tim Burton, Lynda Carter, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Patty Jenkins, Harvey Keitel, Chuck Lorre, Baz Luhrmann, Leonard Maltin, Ben Mankiewicz, Matthew Modine, Christopher Nolan, Edward James Olmos, Keanu Reeves, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Emma Thomas, Oprah Winfrey and Constance Wu.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) has announced the seven mid-career professionals selected for the second installment of its Executive Residency Program that aims to grant executive-level access for BIPOC industry professionals. The participants and their advocates are: Laura Friedmann, Producer, Wrapped Productions (Advocate: Karen Bacchus, Director, Standards & Practices and Compliance, Bell Media); Jessica To, Producer, Toaster Productions (Advocate: Manny Groneveldt, Executive Producer, Bell Media Studios); Abubakar Khan, Producer, Diaspora Creative Inc. (Advocate: Julie Chang, EVP, Business Strategy and Co-productions, Global Media, Blue Ant Media); Mazna Ahmad, Production Manager, Spin Master Entertainment (Advocate: Shaleen Sangha, Vice President, Content, Kids and Family, Boat Rocker); Kamika Bianca Guerra-Walker, Director/Producer (Advocate: Sarah Adams, Director of Current Production, Drama, CBC); Leandro Matos, Screenwriter / Producer, The Script Shop Around the Corner (Advocate: Paige Murray, Executive in Charge of Development, Drama, CBC); Audreanna Lartey, Business Administrative Partner, CBC (Advocates: Mélanie Lê Phan, Executive in Charge of Current Production, Comedy, CBC and Sarah Quan, Executive in Charge of Development, Comedy, CBC).

SmartSource, an ABCOM Technology Group company and tech solutions provider, is expanding into Canada. The company says its new Vancouver office, which opened on July 17, reflects its commitment to servicing production companies locally and enhancing its international presence. In the past, SmartSource has supported its Canadian clients through its Los Angeles branch. The expansion marks the company’s first brick and mortar location in Canada with studio-specific technicians, studio contractors, and additional support staff based in the Vancouver office. 

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