TV & Film News – Schitt’s Creek makes Emmys history

CBC’s Schitt’s Creek claimed a total of nine awards at the 72nd Emmy Awards, including a historic win for Outstanding Comedy Series, marking the first time a Canadian television program has won an Emmy in the Outstanding Comedy or Drama series category, and the most primetime Emmy awards ever won by a Canadian series. The series also made history for most wins in a single season for a comedy including Outstanding Lead Actress and Actor in a Comedy Series for Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy; Outstanding Supporting Actress and Actor in a Comedy Series for Annie Murphy and Daniel Levy; Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for Andrew Cividino and Daniel Levy; and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Daniel Levy. The comedy also took home two Creative Arts Emmys: Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series for Jon Comerford and Lisa Parasyn; and Outstanding Contemporary Costumes for Debra Hanson and Darci Cheyne.

The Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) has announced its full list of nominees for the 2020 DGC Awards, including those for Feature Film, Documentary and Short Film. Akilla’s Escape, a multigenerational gangland morality play from filmmaker Charles Officer, is tied to lead the Feature Film category nominees with three, including an Outstanding Directorial Achievement nomination for Officer. In The Tall Grass, a supernatural horror drama, written and directed by Vincenzo Natali and based on Stephen King and Joe Hill’s 2012 novella, also garnered three nominations. Michelle Latimer’s Inconvenient Indian leads the Documentary categories with nominations for the Allan King Award for Excellence in Documentary, as well as making the DGC Discovery Award Shortlist, alongside Tracey Deer’s Beans, Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s No Ordinary Man, and Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer’s Violation. Winners will be announced at the 19th Annual Awards on consecutive nights, beginning Oct. 24.

Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and the Association québécoise de la production médiatique (AQPM) say over $1 billion in Canadian production volume is at risk of being shelved without government action to address the lack of COVID-19 insurance coverage available for producers. The producer associations say a member survey identified 214 camera-ready film and TV projects unable to move forward because insurance companies aren’t offering coverage, an equivalent loss of 19,560 jobs. Conducted between Aug. 31 and Sept. 9, 148 member production companies participated. While CMPA and AQPM submitted a proposal in June to the federal government advocating for the creation of a government-backed insurance program, any federal intervention has yet to be announced. Read more here.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has announced a $7 million federal top-up of the Government of Canada’s Phase 2 COVID-19 Emergency Support designated for the cultural, heritage and sport sectors. Administered by the CMF, in collaboration with Telefilm, the $19M Audiovisual Allocation is available to both film and television producers that did not receive Phase 1 funding who meet eligibility criteria. Eligible applicants may receive between $5,000 and $100,000 to be determined through a formula-based approach. Applications close Oct. 16.

Telefilm Canada is revising its Success Index. As such, it has launched the first phase of consultations—three online surveys: Talent to Watch (designed specifically for former program participants); Development Program; and Success Index. The deadline to complete these surveys is Sept. 27. 

 

WildBrain’s Q4 2020 revenue was $92.9 million compared with $108.8 million in Q4 2019. The decrease was primarily driven by declines at WildBrain Spark, resulting from changes in “Made for Kids” content policy made by YouTube and COVID-19’s negative advertising impact. Those declines were partially offset by higher Production revenue, which increased 46% to $26.3 million in Q4 2020 vs $18.0 million in Q4 2019, driven primarily by new content for Peanuts, Go, Dog. Go! and Johnny Test. Distribution revenue (excluding WildBrain Spark) was $13.4 million compared with $16.6 million a year ago. Advertising pressures contributed to a 64% decline in WildBrain Spark revenue in Q4 to $6.5 million vs Q4 2019. Audience engagement however, continues to climb, with WildBrain Spark reaching 11.6 billion views in the quarter, up 24% from the prior year.  More than 72.1 billion minutes of videos were watched on the WildBrain AVOD network in Q4, up 55% year-over-year.

Bell Media’s The Harold Greenberg Fund is ending its fourth fiscal quarter with support for 15 new Canadian feature film projects through the fund’s Script Development Program, representing an investment of more than $236,000. Second feature projects selected for funding this quarter include: Anthony Shim’s Riceboy Sleeps; Linsey Stewart & Dane Clark’s Suze; Matthew Kowalchuk’s film adaptation of Jenny Manzer’s children’s novel My Life as a Diamond; and Ho Che Anderson’s graphic novel Sand and Fury: A Scream Queen Adventure, to be scripted and directed Anderson himself. A full list of projects supported for 2019/20 can be found here.

CTV has acquired new David E. Kelley drama Big Sky, set to air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET, beginning Nov. 17 (simulcast with ABC). Filming in Vancouver, Big Sky is based on the Cassie Dewell book series by C.J. Box, starring Kylie Bunbuy (When They See Us) as Dewell and Ryan Phillipe (Damages) as Cody Hoyt, who join forces with his estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), to search for two sisters who have gone missing while driving through remote Montana.

CTV Feature Documentary, Howie Mandel: But, Enough About Me, premieres on Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. ET. Produced by Melbar Entertainment, in partnership with Bell Media, and directed by Barry Avrich, the doc is told through Mandel’s own voice, examining the comedian’s life and career as well as his struggles with mental illness while managing a relentless pace in his professional and private life. The two-hour documentary begins streaming on Crave Oct. 13.

Ieden Wall

OMNI is set to debut late night talk show, Canadian Jewish TV (CJTV), on OMNI1, Oct. 1 at 11:30 p.m. ET. Hosted by Canadian poet Ieden Wall, the show will feature interviews and performances from notable Jewish figures, including Robert Lantos, Libby Znaimer, and Mark Breslin, among others. In keeping with Wall’s background, CJTV will also feature a spoken-word, short film series based on new poems from the host’s upcoming book, The Wisdom of the Wall 2. With the loss of Canadian Jewish News earlier this year, CJTV says it’s aiming to fill the void with a “traditional” style Jewish show “that avoids getting hung up on extreme sides of the political spectrum.”

CBC and Accent Entertainment have announced that production has begun on the sophomore season of comedy series TALLBOYZ (8×30). Set to premiere on CBC and CBC Gem in winter 2021, Season 2 is being shot in Toronto and co-executive produced by Bruce McCulloch (The Kids in the Hall, Young Drunk Punk) and Susan Cavan (The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town, Young Drunk Punk). Following the series debut last fall, TALLBOYZ was recognized with two Canadian Screen Award nominations for Best Sketch Comedy Show & Ensemble Performance and Best Writing, Variety or Sketch Comedy

CBC says principal photography has begun on the fifth season of Workin’ Moms (10×30). Production will continue in and around Toronto through late November for a winter 2021 premiere on CBC and CBC Gem.

 

Abacus Media Rights (AMR) has secured sales of CBC original series Trickster to Sky in the UK (SyFy); NITV and SBS On Demand in Australia, Globoplay in Brazil and KinoPoisk (Yandex) in Russia ahead of its launch on CBC in October. Already greenlit for a second season, Trickster (6 x 60’) is based on the best-selling trilogy by Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster. Created by Streel Films’ Michelle Latimer (Rise, Nuuca) and Tony Elliott (Orphan Black), who also act as Executive Producers, alongside Sienna Films’ Jennifer Kawaia and Julia Sereny (Cardinal, Ransom), Latimer directs all six episodes. The supernatural mystery stars Joel Oulette (Monkey Beach), Crystle Lightning (Outlander), Kalani Queypo (Fear the Walking Dead), Anna Lambe (The Grizzlies), Nathan Alexis (Tin Star), Georgine Lightning (Blackstone), Craig Lauzon (Royal Canadian Air Farce) and Joel Thomas Hynes (Frontier).

Spin Master Corp. has debuted new CG animated preschool series, Mighty Express, on Netflix globally. Animated by Vancouver-based Atomic Cartoons, the series is created and executive produced by Keith Chapman, the creator behind global mega-franchises PAW Patrol and Bob The Builder. Mighty Express marks Spin Master Entertainment’s first series launching straight to a streaming platform, as part of the company’s commitment to a multiplatform content strategy. 

 

Global Mechanic, the Vancouver animation studio behind Emmy-nominated digital interactive story Scribbles & Ink (PBS/WGBH) has joined forces with Northern Ireland’s ALT Animation to co-develop Class Clown (11mins x 52 episodes). Imagined by veteran Canadian writer Ian Boothby (Simpsons Comics, Futurama Comics, MAD Magazine), the series follows a clown and carnival family that decides to settle down in the suburbs after years of being on the road. The story centres around the family’s son Jimmy Jingles, a boy who just wants to fit in at his new school. Only trouble is, he’s descended from a long line of clowns and looks it. The two studios are currently preparing to take the property to MIPCOM Online+ this October to secure additional funding and broadcast partners. 

TSN and Pinty’s have announced a new multi-year partnership that makes Pinty’s the new television broadcast presenting sponsor of TSN’s OVERDRIVE. Under the partnership, Pinty’s will be integrated into the weekday broadcast on TSN4 and TSN2. Those integrations will include in-broadcast partnership designation, on-set branding, on-screen broadcast promos, and a new series logo.

Ethnic Channels Group has announced that The Africa Channel is now available on Bell Fibe TV in Ontario and Québec. Based in Los Angeles, The Africa Channel features English-language Pan-African television series, documentaries, feature films, music, specials, daytime drama, biographies, business analysis, and other cultural content. It’s now on free preview on Bell Fibe TV channel 1617.