TV & Film News – New ‘Seek More’ campaign encourages Canadians to seek out diverse content

MADE | NOUS has launched new campaign “Seek More” which encourages Canadians to seek out content and creators from a wider array of backgrounds, cultures, and lived experiences, reflecting the vast and varied storytellers shaping television, film and gaming in Canada. Among those that have signed on as ambassadors for the new initiative are Shamier Anderson (Stowaway, Bruised), Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Blood Quantum, Taika Waititi/FX’s Reservation Dogs), and Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), alongside Adib Alkhalidey (L’Agent Jean, Mon Ami Walid), Mélissa Bédard (Star académie, M’entends-tu), and Cynthia Wu-Maheux (District 31) in Quebec. The campaign features first-person stories from each ambassador sharing their experiences working in the entertainment industry and what representation in front of and behind the camera means to them. Read more here.

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) has announced the full list of nominees for the 2021 Rockie Awards International Program Competition, recognizing excellence in television and digital media from around the globe. The Rockies Program Competition ceremony will stream live on YouTube during this year’s festival at 3 p.m. ET on June 15. Leading nominations by company are: BBC Studios with 28 nominations, followed by HBO (9), CBC (8), and PBS and Sky (6). Leading nominations by country are: the U.S. (50 nominations), UK (47), and Canada (36).

Amazon Prime Video has commissioned a third Canadian original with Insight Productions set to produce a local version of Amazon Studios’ original format LOL: Last One Laughing. Jay Baruchel has signed on to host LOL: Last One Laughing Canada, which will shoot in Toronto and feature Canadian comedic actors and stand-up comedians competing to make each other laugh first. The final comedian left standing will win the grand prize for the charity of their choice. The format has also produced editions in Japan, Mexico, Australia, Germany and Italy with upcoming series set to debut in France and Spain. The series is Amazon’s third Canadian original following Kids In The Hall and docuseries All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs.

Russell Peters

Roast Battle Canada is a new original series from CTV Comedy Channel and Just For Laughs, based on the format from ViacomCBS International Studios Distribution. The eight, half-hour episodes build on the success of Bell Media’s French-language version, Roast Battle: Le Grand Duel for Z. The English-language adaptation, which sees two pairs of Canadian comics faceoff in each episode in hopes of being crowned the victor by a panel of judges, will start filming later this year. Presiding over each episode will be comedian Russell Peters; writer, producer, and actor Sabrina Jalees (Carol’s Second Act); and Season 1 Roast Battle semi-finalist, Letterkenny’s K. Trevor Wilson. Actor and comedian Ennis Esmer, who’ll appear in upcoming CTV original series, Children Ruin Everything, serves as host.

CBC and BET+ have announced the initial round of casting for upcoming original series The Porter (working title, 8×60) with Aml Ameen (I May Destroy You, Yardie), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Star Trek: Discovery, Pretty Hard Cases) and Mouna Traoré (Self Made, The Umbrella Academy) to co-star in the 1920s drama. With the series set to start production in Winnipeg later this spring, more additions to the cast will be announced in the coming weeks. Inspired by real events, The Porter follows the journeys of an ensemble of characters highlighting the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the U.S. joined together to give birth to the world’s first Black union.

Michael Greyeyes

Rutherford Falls is the latest Peacock Original series to hit Corus Entertainment’s platforms with the comedy slated to premiere on Showcase with back-to-back episodes on Thursday, April 29, and a special presentation of episode one to air on Global. Starring Ed Helms and Jana Schmieding, the series also features Jesse Leigh (Heathers), and Canadians Michael Greyeyes (I Know This Much Is True) and Dustin Milligan (Schitt’s Creek). Rutherford Falls represents a breakthrough moment in Indigenous representation in comedy television with Schmieding (Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux) and Greyeyes (Nêhiyaw from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation) starring in the series, along with five Indigenous writers. They include Schmieding, Sierra Teller Ornelas (Navajo), Bobby Wilson (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota), Tai Leclaire (Kanien’kehá:ka [Mohawk Nation]/Mi’kmaq), and Tazbah Chavez (Nüümü [Bishop Paiute Tribe], Diné [Navajo], San Carlos Apache).

Corus Studios has landed its largest distribution deal to date with the sale of over 200 episodes to U.S. streamer, Hulu. Set to acquire Corus Studios content across home renovation, real estate and food, the groundbreaking deal includes  in-market streaming premieres of renovation series Backyard Builds (Season 1-3), Family Home Overhaul, Farmhouse Facelift, Home to Win (Season 1-4), $ave My Reno (Season 1-3), real estate show Hot Market, food travelogue series Big Food Bucket List (Season 1-2) and Wall of Chefs and Junior Chef Showdown. Quebecor Content continues to secure French language rights to Corus Studios content, adding 29 hours of programming to its slate including Big Food Bucket List (Season 2 – 26×30), Junior Chef Showdown (Season 1 – 8×60) and Family Home Overhaul (8×60). Discovery in Turkey and Germany have picked up the first two seasons of Island of Bryan. Discovery in Germany also picks up Salvage Kings (Season 1 – 10×60). Nine Network in Australia will air Farmhouse Facelift (10×60), while Poland’s Grupa acquires Home to Win: For the Holidays (8×60).

Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) and Toronto-based LoCo Motion Pictures have announced a deal that will see WBITVP acquire global (excl. Canada) distribution rights to International Emmy-nominated CBC Digital series How To Buy A Baby. Created by Wendy Litner, WBITVP Sweden is the first of WB’s opcos to adapt the format with Season 1 locally titled Alla Utom Vi (translation: ‘Everyone Except Us’) having premiered on Sweden’s Discovery+ platform in February.  A second season has been commissioned.

Emma Hunter

The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has announced that Canadian actor, writer and comedian Emma Hunter is writing and hosting the 2021 WGC Screenwriting Awards ceremony, which will take place over Zoom on Monday, April 26. Hunter most recently completed filming the first season of CBC drama Feudal, created by WGC member Sheri Elwood. Hunter was also a co-host and writer for three seasons on CTV’s The Beaverton. The WGC has also named the 2021 nominees for the bi-annual Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize awarded to the best unproduced longform script. The nominees include Goners, written by Ken Hegan; Magnificent, written by Travis McDonald; Sluggy and Bogie, written by Tommy Gushue; Struck, written by Lynne Kamm; and Tall Grass, written by Bri Proke.

The Fabienne Colas Foundation’s Youth and Diversity Program has issued a call for applications for its 2021 Being Black in Canada program, presented by Netflix, in collaboration with the National Bank. This year marks the expansion of the program to three new Canadian cities, welcoming 35 participants in Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver. The selected filmmakers will be guided through audiovisual production (screenwriting, directing, editing, post-production, etc.) and creation of a documentary short under the tutelage of industry experts. The eligibility criteria and application form are available here. Candidates have until April 18 to apply.

imagineNATIVE says its 22nd Annual Film + Media Arts Festival will once again take place online, Oct. 19 – 24, accompanied by its Industry Days professional development series. The decision to mount another digital presentation resulted from a series of discussions between imagineNATIVE leadership, the board of directors, and other stakeholders. imagineNATIVE says its 2020 online festival allowed for broader outreach with over 29,576 viewing across Canada, the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and select European countries. Submissions for the festival are now open until May 31.