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TV & Film News – Marci Ien among WIFT Toronto’s 2020 Crystals honourees

WIFT Toronto has named its 2020 Crystal Awards honourees. They include Beth Janson, CEO at the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, who receives the award for Outstanding Achievement in Business; Marsha Greene, Showrunner, Television Writer, Executive Producer (Creative Excellence Award); Jennifer Kawaja, Producer and Co-President of Sienna Films (Mentorship Award); Sue Haas, VP of Digital Media at Blue Ant Media (Digital Trailblazer Award); and Marci Ien, former co-host of CTV’s The Social and Liberal MP-elect for Toronto Centre, who claims the Special Jury Award of Distinction. The 2020 Crystal Award honourees were nominated by WIFT Toronto members and selected by a jury of past winners.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has announced it’s doubling funding to the COVID Emergency Relief Funds to Black and People of Colour to $8M from the previously announced $4M. Click here to access the criteria and here to apply before Dec. 17. It’s also announcing Black People and People of Colour Sector Development Support for industry initiatives ineligible for funding from other CMF Programs. Click here to access guidelines and here to apply before Nov. 27. Through the CMF’s consultation with racialized stakeholders this past summer, the CMF identified several organizations dedicated to supporting BPOC-led companies and creators working in Canada’s screen-based industries. The CMF’s investment will support these organizations’ as they continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Supported in this initial round are the Black Screen Office, BIPOC TV & FILM, Racial Equity Media Collective (REMC), and Reelworld Screen Institute.

Global Original drama Nurses has been picked up by NBC for a Dec. 7 primetime launch in the U.S. Produced by ICF Films and eOne in association with Corus Entertainment, the show features a Canadian cast that includes Tiera Skovbye (Riverdale), Natasha Calis (The Possession), Jordan Johnson-Hinds (Blindspot), and Sandy Sidhu (Home Before Dark). The Nurses pick-up follows U.S. network deals for CBC’s Coroner and Trickster, as well as CTV’s Transplant, as programmers look for content to fill gaps left by COVID-19’s impact on production schedules.

Global Original drama Departure, starring Christopher Plummer and Archie Panjabi, has debuted as the #1 new series (2+) this fall, according to Numeris data supplied by the network. Produced by Shaftesbury and Greenpoint Productions, in association with Corus Entertainment, the series premiered in October tracking a 2+ AMA of 1.2 million viewers and ranking as a Top 5 series overall. Departure concludes its first season Nov. 12. Season 2, produced by Shaftesbury and Deadpan Pictures, just wrapped production in Toronto and focuses on the crash of a high-speed automated train – the Apollo – travelling from Toronto to Chicago. Broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

Saved by the Bell, a reboot of the late 1980s NBC sitcom, is premiering on W Network on Nov. 26 with back-to-back episodes at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., coupled with a special presentation of the inaugural episode on Global at 8 p.m. ET/PT. All 10 episodes will also drop on STACKTV at 8 p.m. ET via Amazon Prime Video. Part of Corus Entertainment’s agreement with NBCUniversal to air marquee Peacock Original programming in Canada, the new series sees Mark-Paul Gosselaar reprise his role as Zack Morris, who is now California governor. Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Mario Lopez also star, reprising their roles as Jessie Spano and A.C. Slater. 

TVO has announced the world broadcast premiere of TVO Original Running Wild: The Cats of Cornwall. Written and directed by Aaron Hancox and produced by Markham Street Films, the documentary will air Nov. 24 and be available for 24/7 streaming on The 70-minute feature explores Cornwall, Ontario’s feral cat crisis which reached a peak in 2017 when 764 stray cats were taken in by the local OSPCA, nearly 30% of the total for the entire province. 

Stingray has reached a long-term agreement with TELUS that will see Optik TV subscribers gain access to the new TV app Qello Concerts by Stingray, featuring full length concerts and music documentaries. Qello Concerts by Stingray will be available for a monthly subscription fee of $8, while Optik TV subscribers will continue to have free access to Stingray audio channels through the Stingray Music TV app. The TV apps – Stingray Music Videos & Stingray Karaoke, plus the TV channels Stingray Loud, Stingray Vibe, Stingray Retro, Stingray Country, Stingray Hits!, Stingray Now 4K, Stingray Naturescape 4K, Stingray Festival 4K and PalmarèsAdisq par Stingray – will also continue to be available to most subscribers, free of charge. 

WildBrain Q1 2021 results report revenue of $95.5 million, compared with $112.3 million in the prior year quarter. The decrease was primarily driven by WildBrain Spark and pressure on global advertising due to COVID-19 as well as policy changes on YouTube for “Made for Kids” content. Content Production and Distribution revenue increased to $36.3 million in Q1 2021 vs. $35.1 million in Q1 2020, due to higher production revenue, driven by premium proprietary projects including new Peanuts originals such as The Snoopy Show, a second season of Snoopy in Space, and new seasons of Johnny Test, Fireman Sam, Polly Pocket and Chip & Potato. COVID-19 and YouTube advertising policies continued to negatively impact ad sales at WildBrain Spark, with revenue declining 60% to $8.9 million in Q1 2021 vs Q1 2020. It says viewership remained strong at 10.7 billion views in Q1.

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