TV & Film News – Blink49 Studios acquires majority stake in Front Street Pictures

Blink49 Studios, backed by global producer and distributor Fifth Season (formerly Endeavor Content), is acquiring a majority stake in Vancouver-based Front Street Pictures. Marking Blink49’s first corporate acquisition, the strategic investment is aimed at expanding the Toronto-based indie studio’s operations throughout Canada. Blink49 Studios was launched in November 2021 by a group of former Entertainment One executives, including John Morayniss, who serves as the studio’s CEO. Under terms of the acquisition, the financial details of which were not disclosed, Front Street Pictures will maintain its brand and continue to be led by its president, Charles Cooper.

Netflix has announced a new first look deal with Quebec producer and distributor, Attraction. The first look will include French-language film projects, which Attraction will develop and produce. President Richard Speer says the partnership will elevate Quebec content to the global stage, demonstrating “Netflix’s commitment to promoting our local Francophone talent to audiences around the world.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On has won an International Emmy in the Arts Programming category, amidst the controversy over the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter’s Indigenous ancestry claims. Directed by Madison Thomas and narrated by Sainte-Marie, the documentary was produced by Eagle Vision, White Pine Pictures and Paquin Entertainment. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and is available to stream on Crave.

The DOC Institute will recognize industry veteran Janice Dawe and filmmaker Noura Kevorkian with its top documentary achievement honours at the 10th Annual DOC Institute Honours Awards, to be presented Dec. 5 in Toronto. Dawe is this year’s winner of the Luminary Award. The founding partner and President of Bizable Media, a Toronto-based consulting firm providing production financing and business affairs services to the film and television community, she has worked with dozens of documentary filmmakers. Before forming Bizable, she was Vice-President and Executive Producer at White Pine Pictures, where she oversaw business development and production of the company’s documentary and drama slate. Noura Kevorkian is this year’s winner of the Vanguard Award. A writer, director, producer, editor, and even composer for her films, Kevorkian’s latest Peabody Award-winning film, the Canada-Lebanon co-production Batata, follows 10 years in the life of an unmarried Syrian woman as she turns from migrant farmhand to refugee, stuck in a camp in Lebanon and unable to return to her hometown. The film is an Official Entry in the 2024 Academy Awards.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television has announced the official dates for Canadian Screen Week 2024. The annual event, bringing together the screen-based industry to celebrate the country’s top talent in the film, television, and digital sectors, will take place from Sunday, April 7 to Sunday, April 14. Nominees for the 2024 Canadian Screen Awards will be announced Feb. 22. 

FuboTV has expanded its offering with the addition of Super Channel to its channel options. With Super Channel, the live TV streaming service expands its base channel plans to include add-on packages, 

Stingray has launched 18 new channels on Samsung TV Plus, Samsung’s free ad-supported streaming TV and video on-demand (AVOD) service, now available to users in the U.S. on Samsung Smart TVs, Galaxy devices, Smart Monitors, Family Hub refrigerators and online. The new audio channels cater to a broad spectrum of musical tastes and genres, including Hot Country, Remember the 80’s, Nothin’ but 90s, Flashback 70s, Smooth Jazz, Easy Listening, The Spa, Today’s K-Pop, Today’s Latin Pop, Romance Latino, Classic Rock, Hip-Hop and Greatest Hits.

Cinespace Studios has announced a new partnership with NABET 700-M UNIFOR to expand its CineCares Workforce Training Program in Toronto. Cameron Pictures and Lark Productions’ upcoming Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent, will be the first Canadian production to participate in the program, currently filming at Cinespace Toronto and set to air on Citytv and Citytv+ next spring. Launched earlier this year, the CineCares Workforce Training program offers on-set experience to pursue union membership with selected trainees offered hands-on training on set in the sound, script, and lighting departments. BIPOC TV & FILM, Indigenous Screen Office, and POV Film are recruitment partners.

Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF) is investing up to $5.5 million into the Calgary Entertainment Arts Production Hub (CEAPH) at Bow Valley College. Located in downtown Calgary, students will have access to training, reskilling, and upskilling programs including 3D animation and visual effects, game development, post-production, augmented and virtual reality, motion capture, esports, and podcasting. Between 2024 and 2028, the CEAPH is expected to train 675 individuals and support more than 125 companies. 

Michael MacLennan

Michael MacLennan has been selected as the Pacific Screenwriting Program (PSP) Showrunner-in-Residence for the 2024 Scripted Series Lab. MacLennan will lead the sixth iteration of the program, which runs from January to April, guiding six up-and-coming BC-based screenwriters in a writer’s room as they develop an original series. Vancouver-born MacLennan has been nominated seven times for the Writers Guild of Canada Canadian Screenwriting Award, and received the 2018 Showrunner of the Year Award. His credits include Co-Executive Producer of Queer As Folk, creator and EP of Godiva’s, and co-EP on Flashpoint. Most recently, he created Tiny Pretty Things for Netflix, which was the streamer’s number-one series worldwide for 14 days.

Charles Martin Smith

Charles Martin Smith will be honoured with the Whistler Film Festival Career Achievement Award. The distinction is being presented during the festival’s Talent Luncheon on Nov. 30. The Vancouver-based actor, writer, and director is best known for starring in iconic films including American Graffiti, The Buddy Holly Story, and The Untouchables, and directing the premiere episode of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series, among many other credits. His latest work, This Time, makes its Canadian Festival Premiere at WFF23. 

The 119th Original Santa Claus Parade returns to CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV app on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Melissa Grelo (The Social), Kelsey McEwen (CTV Your Morning), and Tyrone Edwards (ETALK) return to host North America’s longest running children’s parade, while roaming reporter Deepa Prashad (Virgin Radio Toronto) moves with the parade, as it debuts a new route, kicking off at Christie Pits Park and making its way through the heart of downtown Toronto.

CTV News Toronto’s annual Toy Mountain campaign returns for a 28th year, collecting new, unwrapped toys for families, beginning Nov. 23 with a special broadcast on CTV News at Six, live from Bass Pro Shops at Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre. Supporters can stop by with a donation and enjoy live entertainment and hot chocolate. Leading up to the campaign finale on Dec. 22, CTV News Toronto’s Lyndsay Morrison and Andria Case once again lead nightly Toy Mountain progress updates.

Global has announced its schedule of new holiday specials, beginning with Cedric the Entertainer presents The Greatest @Home Videos Holiday Special on Nov. 24. That’s followed by Christmas at Graceland on Nov. 29, celebrating Elvis Presley from his historic estate and Christmas at the Opry on Dec. 7, hosted by Wynonna Judd. On Dec. 10, Global airs A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop taped live from Inglewood, California. Global then takes viewers to Las Vegas for Barry Manilow’s A Very Barry Christmas on Dec. 11.

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