TV & Film News – CMPA proposes feds underwrite COVID-19 insurance program

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) is developing a proposal under which the federal government would underwrite coronavirus insurance claims in the event of another industry-wide shutdown or on-set outbreak. An update provided to producers this week and obtained by Variety, details a plan in which producers would pay premiums to access COVID-19 coverage, which would then go into “a dedicated pot to pay for potential claims.” The government would only contribute financially if the funds generated were insufficient to cover claims made. Insurers are refusing COVID-19 coverage for the production sector, which would put producers solely on the hook for any financial consequences.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television wrapped up four nights of virtual Canadian Screen Awards presentations last Thursday recognizing Cinematic Arts. The night’s big winners were Sophie Desraspe’s Antigone and François Girard’s The Song of Names. Antigone, Canada’s entry in this year’s Oscar race for Best International Feature Film, picked up five awards including Best Motion Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Actress and Supporting Actress nods. The Song of Names, a sweeping historical drama with a cast led by Tim Roth and Clive Owen, also earned five awards, including Achievement in Make-up, Sound Editing, Overall Sound, and two awards for Achievement in Music for Canadian composer Howard Shore, including Best Original Song. Read more here.

The Youth Media Alliance Awards of Excellence Gala was held online May 27, hosted by Catherine Ethier. This year, the jury chose three winners for its Award of Excellence for Outstanding Youth Personality, which highlights an outstanding person (or group) influential with young people who stands out for their uniqueness, daring, and positive presence on all platforms. The award was shared between actress Gabrielle Fontaine (Passe-Partout, 14 mille millions de choses à savoir, Tactik); Daniel Coutu, head writer, host, creator and producer of Par ici la magie, Technomagie, Science ou Magie; and Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse and Pier-Luc Funk for MAMMOUTH 2019. Find the full list of 18 Prix d’excellence 2020 Awards winners, here

 

CTV has quietly closed its physical North Bay, ON location. The network’s remaining three employees in the community will work from home. At its peak, the Oak St. studio housed a team of 55 when the station was known as MCTV or Mid Canada Television, which was created in 1980 when Cambrian Broadcasting, which owned the CTV affiliates in Sudbury, North Bay, and Timmins, merged with J. Conrad Lavigne’s CBC affiliates in those same cities. Baton Broadcasting acquired MCTV in 1990 and the stations were rebranded to CTV Northern Ontario in 2003.

Robin Cass

Robin Cass, a veteran producer with credits on Kim’s Convenience, The Republic of Love, and The Hanging Garden, among other projects, has launched new Vancouver-based production company, Cass & Co. Cass recently relocated to Vancouver from Toronto and is currently developing Waubgeshig Rice’s award-winning novel, Moon of The Crusted Snow, as well as Jefferson Moneo’s Crime Wave, a one-hour drama series co-produced with Robert Munroe (The Expanse, The Tudors). Additional projects include BossLady, a web series co-created by Cass and series star Measha Brueggergosman; and half-hour comedy Diva, created by Brueggergosman and Sharon Lewis (Brown Girl Begins). On the factual front, Dr. Brian Goldman’s (White Coat, Black Art) book The Power of Kindness is the source material for doc series HumanKind, a co-production with Nomad Films (Political Blind Date).

indieNET, a group of independent broadcasters that includes CHCH TV, YesTV, CHEK and NTV, has announced a new, digital approach for a joint Fall 2020 upfront presentation, set for Thursday, June 18. The digital broadcast, hosted by Airtime Television Sales, will announce new fall programming and celebrate the fifth anniversary of the indieNET partnership. It will be available for clients and advertisers to stream online live and on demand. Invitations to indieNET’s fifth anniversary upfront will be sent to media planners, buyers, and industry members in the coming days.  

The Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club has launched Arrows in an Hour, a new series that showcases the team’s most exciting Major League Rugby matches in a 60-minute highlight-driven format. The 10-episode series will be exclusive to club media partner TSN and air across its platforms weekly on Saturdays until Aug. 1. The Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club is Canada’s first professional rugby union team.

Thunderbird Entertainment Group has announced Q3 financial results. Revenue for the three and nine months ended Mar. 31, 2020 was $29.3 million and $59.6 million, compared to $20.9 million and $44.7 million for the comparative periods in fiscal 2019. Adjusted EBITDA was $6.9 million and $11.2 million for the three and nine months ended Mar. 31, compared to $4.7 million and $10.3 million for the comparative periods in fiscal 2019. The company generated free cash flow of $4.5 million for the three months ended Mar. 31 after retiring the balance of a $6 million term loan. As of Mar. 30, Thunderbird’s team of more than 1,000 crew members across all divisions in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Toronto were set up to work remotely. Thunderbird says it’s continuing to pitch, develop, produce, sell, deliver and service content to its partners including Netflix, NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon, PBS, WGBH, Bell Media’s Discovery, APTN, Corus Entertainment, the Weather Channel, and the CBC, among others.

WOW! Unlimited Media has announced its results for the three months ended Mar. 31. The company completed the first quarter of 2020 with operating EBITDA of $0.1 million, as compared to a loss of ($1.8) million for the first quarter of 2019. Revenue for the three months ended Mar. 31 decreased by $5.8 million compared to the same period in 2019. With the onset of the global COVID-19 crisis, the Mainframe team pro-actively leveraged its Global Studio Pipeline to transition into a ‘Work From Home’ model for its entire 400+ Studio crew. The directive was successfully deployed within one week, without interruption to operations. Mainframe plans to adapt the Work From Home model beyond the current crisis to expand its production capacity without leasing additional facilities. Production of each of the company’s titles has continued with minimal disruption to client commitments. Over 200 half-hours of episodic animation and seven animated movie specials are currently in production or contracted and scheduled.

Moonbug, a global entertainment company that develops and distributes values-based content for kids, has announced its expansion within Canada through a new partnership with WOW! Unlimited and Crave. With the partnership, Seasons 4 – 6 of Moonbug’s popular soccer series Supa Strikas are now available for streaming in Canada for the first time, including Season 7 launching as part of WOW’s curated kids content collections on Crave on June  26. Additionally, 10 episodes of both Little Baby Bum and My Magic Pet Morphle will be available in the WOW! collection this summer.

Bell Media’s The Harold Greenberg Fund is ending its third fiscal quarter with support for 23 new Canadian feature film projects through the fund’s Script Development Program. With the Canadian film production industry facing unprecedented challenges, the latest round of funding represents an investment of more than $330,000. Read more about this round of projects, here.

Telefilm Canada is providing nearly $8 million in funding for six French-language feature films. Given current industry uncertainty, Telefilm is postponing its next application deadline. The films selected in this round are: Arsenault et Fils, Director and screenwriter: Rafaël Ouellet; Babysitter, Director: Monia Chokri, Screenwriter: Catherine Léger; Béluga Blues, Directors: Christine Dallaire-Dupont and Nicola Lemay, Screenwriter: Andrée Lambert; Lignes de fuite, Directors and screenwriters: Catherine Chabot and Myriam Bouchard; Norbourg, Director: Maxime Giroux, Screenwriter: Simon Lavoie; and Soleils Atikamekw, Director and screenwriter: Chloé Leriche.

Hollywood Suite is playing the “Best of the Best” this summer, airing 92 award-winning films, spanning eight decades, uncut and commercial-free. Airing nightly, starting this week with Oscar Best Picture winners Patton (1970), Moonlight (2016), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), All About Eve (1950), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Hurt Locker (2008) and Out of Africa (1985), a different category of curated selections will run weekly through Aug. 31.

CTV Life Channel is on nationwide free preview until July 9. Among the series set to debut during the freeview are Bell Media Studios production, Double Your Dish, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET, beginning June 29. The eight episode, half-hour, self-shot cooking series, helps viewers make the most out of their meals by transforming one base recipe into two totally different dishes. The CTV Life freeview is available through participating television service providers, including Bell, Bell Aliant, BellMTS, Cogeco, Eastlink, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw, and participating members of the CCSA

Valérie HérouxStingray is expanding its distribution deal to give Rogers Ignite TV customers access to Qello Concerts by Stingray and Stingray Karaoke. Both are available in free preview for Ignite TV customers until July 2. To discover, Ignite TV customers can simply say “Stingray Qello” and “Stingray Karaoke” into their voice remote.