TV & Film News – Wildbrain temporarily reduces salaries, furloughs staff

Wildbrain is temporarily reducing salaries and furloughing some employees. In releasing its Q3 2020 earnings, the Halifax-headquartered children’s entertainment company revealed it’s initiated $2.0 million in quarterly operating expense savings to preserve cash, including a temporary 20% reduction in salaries for senior management, who will receive new Restricted Share Units in lieu, and a temporary reduction in salaries at WildBrain Spark (its YouTube business) as well as furloughing some employees as part of the UK government’s funding support during the coronavirus crisis. Wildbrain’s Board of Directors has also agreed to receive Deferred Share Units in lieu of cash fees. Wildbrain’s preliminary Q3 revenue is estimated at between $96 and $100 million, down from $110 million in the same quarter last year. Aaron Ames, WildBrain’s CFO, acknowledged that advertising declines of 60% year-over-year in April are having an impact. Read more here.

WOW! Unlimited Media says it plans to adapt the Work From Home model beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to expand its production capacity without leasing additional facilities. At the onset of the crisis, the Mainframe team pro-actively leveraged its Global Studio Pipeline transitioning its entire 400+ Studio crew within one week, without interruption to operations. WOW! says production on company titles has continued with minimal disruption to client commitments with 200 half-hours of episodic animation and seven animated movie specials currently in production, contracted and scheduled. The company announced its fourth quarter and fiscal year-end results for the period ended Dec. 31, 2019, completing its third full year of operations with revenue of $103.9 million in 2019, compared to $78.6 million in 2018. For Q4 2019, the company recorded its first operating profit of $1.6 million.

Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble donations have now topped more than $8 million, benefitting Food Banks Canada. It’s the most money raised through a text-to-donate channel in Canada in such a short period, raising more than $1.6 million in four days. Updated audience data indicates the special was watched in some part by more than 12 million viewers, or one in three Canadians. With three days of delayed viewing, the 90-minute special now has an average audience of 5.9 million viewers. Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble is available to watch on demand on CBC Gem, Citytv.com, Crave, CTV.ca, CTV app, GlobalTV.com, Global TV App, ICI TOU.TV, iHeartRadio.ca, iHeartRadio Canada app, Stingray Qello, and Super Channel On Demand. Canadians can continue to donate until May 26.

Lilly Singh

CTV and WE have announced WE CELEBRATE: CLASS of 2020, a virtual coast-to-coast road trip culminating in a celebration to mark the end of the school year. Airing Saturday, June 6 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and everywhere CTV content can be found, the special will be hosted by Lilly Singh and feature Tyrone Edwards, Selena Gomez, Brett Kissel, Shawn Mendes, Shay Mitchell, Natalie Portman, Jacob Tremblay, Liz Trinnear, Chloe Wilde, and WE co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger. 

Jasmin Mozaffari

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and Netflix have announced the creators and feature film projects selected for the inaugural CFC/Netflix Project Development Accelerator, a three-month program designed to offer advanced project development and workshopping support. The English language projects receiving funding are The Path Travels Me, written and directed by Jasmin Mozaffari, producer: Caitlin Grabham (Prowler Film); and Runaways, written and directed by Rama Rau. The French films selected are Kanaval, writer/director: Henri Pardo, producer: Éric Idriss-Kanago (Yzanakio), associate producer: Marie Ka; and T’es belle Maryse, writer/director: Maxime Desmons, co-writer: Marie-Ève Perron, producer: Damon D’Oliveira (Flimshow Inc.), co-producer: Babe Nation Inc. Two additional accelerators, the Calling Card and Marketplace Accelerators, are yearlong accelerators that began in Sept. 2019. To date, they’ve supported more than a dozen projects, ranging from shorts to features and TV series. 

Bell Media’s The Harold Greenberg Fund has announced the new projects that will receive funding through the Shorts-to-Features and HGF/Newfoundland & Labrador Shorts Program. This year’s chosen films for the Shorts-to-Features Program are: Kiskosimakan (aka Whistling) from writer/director Thirza Cuthand and producer Sera-Lys McArthur; North of Harbord from director/writer Jeremy Diamond, writers Jamie Michaels, and producers Lisa Baylin and Mike Valiquette; and The Day We Left from director/writer Kaio Kathriner, writer/producer Elma Begovic, and producer Tony Cerciello. Each team receives $32,000 towards the production of their short film projects, designed to be calling cards for future long-form features. The inaugural selections for the HGF/Newfoundland & Labrador Shorts Program are Wish You Were Here from writer/director Allison White and producer Kerrie Mattie; and Animal Arrangements from writer/director Kerry Gamberg and producer Micah Martin. Both projects will receive a $20,000.

TSN is continuing to air classic Hockey Canada moments. Jonathan Toews performance at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship, highlighting his heroics in Team Canada’s semifinal matchup and Gold Medal Game, will be broadcast May 14. TSN will also broadcast all three of Team Canada’s round robin games at the 2013 IIHF World Juniors, starring a roster dubbed ‘The Next Dream Team’, on May 16. More classic Hockey Canada games on TSN will be announced in the coming weeks.

LISTEN: Ron McLean is our guest on the latest Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast talking about his new Sportsnet digital series In Conversation with Ron McLean and revisiting classic NHL games, alongside hockey legends. Listen on your favourite podcast app or here:

Discovery launches six-part Deadliest Catch spinoff Deadliest Catch: Bloodline beginning May 19. Following the tragic passing of legendary Bering Sea Captain Phil Harris, the new series follows his son, Alaskan legacy fisherman Josh Harris, after he discovers a trove of Hawaiian fishing charts scribbled with Captain Phil’s handwriting. He and business partner Casey McManus take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii’s Kona coast and learn about the time his father spent there decades earlier. According to Numeris data supplied by the network, the Season 16 premiere of Deadliest Catch on Apr. 21 was the show’s highest audience for any episode since 2017 among total viewers, helping make Discovery the most-watched entertainment specialty channel in its timeslot. 

Investigation Discovery unlocks a nationwide freeview, beginning May 13. Available until June 10, the channel’s free preview features the debuts of all-new series If I Should Die (May 19), Deadly Secrets (May 21), Homicide City: Charlotte (May 26); Harvey Weinstein: Breaking Now (May 31); and new seasons of Grave Mysteries (May 14), Dead of Winter (May 22), and On The Case with Paula Zahn (June 7). The freeview is available via Bell, Bell Aliant, Bell MTS, Cogeco, Eastlink, Rogers, Telus, Shaw, Shaw Direct, and SaskTel, among other providers.

Crazy Like A Lynx will have its world premiere on APTN on Friday, May 8 at 7 p.m. ET (Ojibway) and Thursday June 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET (English). Produced by InterINDigital, the docuseries is an intimate look at some of Canada’s most successful and interesting Aboriginal organizations, businesses, programs, and people. The series follows co-hosts and comedians Don Kelly and Dakota Ray Hebert as they travel across Canada and immerse themselves – oftentimes with self-deprecating humour – into the lives of Aboriginals accomplishing amazing things. Their travels take them from the First Nations Snowboard Team in Vancouver to the Canadian Forces Black Bear program at CFB Gagetown.

Quebecor is launching a buy local movement that includes showcasing Québec talent. Organized around the hashtag #culturedici, the initiative encompasses a new show on TVA, Ça va bien aller; a special “Culture d’ici” showcase on Videotron’s illico platform and Helix, bringing together all Québec content on on-demand platforms; a campaign supporting Québec authors; and a Buy Quebec campaign running on QUB radio and Porte-Monnaie, in addition to multi-platform advertising dedicated to local businesses. 

Stingray’s Earth Day initiative with U.S. not-for-profit One Tree Planted will see 19,894 trees added to the organization’s reforestation efforts. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Stingray committed to planting one tree for every hour of Stingray Naturescape streamed on Apr. 22. Stingray Naturescape (previously branded as Stingray Ambiance) features relaxing scenery from around the world, including majestic forests and woodlands. 

XITE, an interactive music video streaming app, is now available on Rogers Ignite TV, joining  Netflix, Prime Video, Tubi and hayu. XITE includes a vast library of music videos from current artists to one-hit wonders. It’s available free and ad-supported or via XITE Premium, an ad-free version for $7.99 a month with features like unlimited skips and personalized dynamic playlists.