TV & Film News – Upfronts unveil 2019/20 TV schedules

Upfront presentations unveiling what’s in store for the 2019/20 TV schedules have been held by most of the major broadcasters. Corus’ presentation included the unveiling of new W Network offerings Pearson, executive produced by Suits creator and executive producer Aaron Korsh, Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, iconic detective series Nancy Drew, and family drama Party of Five. Showcase will debut a new super heroine programming block featuring Batwoman starring Ruby Rose, paired with fan-favourite Supergirl, and DC origin stories Pennyworth and Swamp Thing. Bell Media has announced the return of Cobie Smulders in action drama Stumptown, and Rob Lowe in spin-off 9-1-1: Lone Star. Bell is confirming 70 original productions for the upcoming season. CBC’s 2019/20 slate includes Family Feud Canada, hosted by Gerry Dee; Ron MacLean’s returns to the rink as host and Kurt Browning as head judge for a new season of Battle of the Blades featuring guest judges Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir; and new original spy drama Fortunate Son set in 1968. Rogers’ original Canadian programming slate includes scripted series Hudson & Rex (Season 2), drama Dead Still set in 1880s Ireland starring Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley, Luther) as a memorial photographer who takes photographs of the dead; and Vagrant Queen, a live action adaptation of the graphic novel.

Amazon has announced the launch of Prime Video Channels for Canada, which will allow Canadians to stream a suite of TV stations and channels from within the Prime Video app for an additional monthly subscription fee. Essentially it allows Amazon Prime Video subscribers to build their own pick-and-pay streaming package with monthly subscription fees for additional channels ranging from $3.99 to $12.99. Prime Video Channels at launch include hayu, STARZ, and Nickelodeon as well as Canadian offerings like OUTtv, Super Channel, and STACKTV – a multi-channel package from Corus Entertainment. Read more here.

ACTRA and the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) are jointly launching a helpline where members can report workplace and on set harassment and seek support. HAVEN (Harassment and Violence Emergency Network) Helpline, will serve as a 24/7 bilingual critical incident reporting line, staffed by human resource company Morneau Shepell. Members will also be able to seek confidential counselling services, and well-being support by phone, web chat and online through the Morneau Shepell LifeWorks app.  The launch follows both organizations signing the Canadian Creative Industries Code of Conduct in March 2018 – a commitment to address harassment within the film and television industry. Read more here.

Super Channel is set to debut Halifax-shot comedy Let’s Get Physical, which pays homage to the decade that introduced America to scrunchies, leg-warmers and Footloose. A modern-day story set in the high-octane world of competitive aerobics, the eight-episode series stars Matt Jones (Breaking Bad, Mom), Chris Diamantopoulos (Silicon Valley, Episodes), AnnaLynne McCord (90210, Nip/Tuck) and Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman). Set to premiere on Super Channel Fuse on July 3, each half-hour episode will be available on Super Channel On Demand the day following its weekly linear broadcast. Let’s Get Physical, from Entertainment One (eOne), is executive produced by Michael Rosenberg’s Rosey TV (Hell on Wheels, Hung), Connor Pritchard’s Inside Center Productions (Workaholics), and Ben and Dan Newmark’s Grandma’s House Entertainment.

Arcadia Content has introduced a spinoff of its Hope for Wildlife reality series, following the day-to-day at the Halifax-area wildlife rescue operation. Doctor Barry is a new six-part series airing on OUTtv that follows Doctor Barry MacEachern, a regular on Hope for Wildlife, as he opens up his own veterinary clinic in Dartmouth, NS. The Doctor Barry series has been picked up internationally by PBS. After its original run on OUTtv, it will air on The Knowledge Network.

APTN and Prairie Dog Film + Television’s new one-hour crime drama series TRIBAL has begun production in Calgary. TRIBAL follows a First Nation Tribal Police Force as they navigate a controversial new Chief amid allegations of corruption and takeover from the federal government. TRIBAL’s cast includes Jessica Matten (Frontier, Blackstone) and Brian Markinson (Mad Men, Unspeakable). This season examines First Nation crime stories based on real-world cases, including mistaken identity, pipeline controversy, healing lodge justice, social services, tobacco and missing Indigenous Peoples. Filming locations include Calgary and the Tsuu T’ina First Nation in Alberta. TRIBAL is produced by Ron E. Scott, Janet Hamley, Adam Frost and Nancy Laing from Prairie Dog Film + Television. The series will air in Canada on APTN.

The Leo Awards gala awards program, honouring the best of film and television in B.C.,  was held June 1. Leos were awarded in 31 categories with Syfy series Van Helsing winning Best Lead, Supporting, and Guest Male Performances, in addition to Best Supporting Female. CBC’s tainted blood drama Unspeakable won Best Dramatic Series. Find the full list of winners here.

Youth Media Alliance handed out its awards in Toronto on May 29. This year’s winners included Dino Dana (Best Program, Live Action Scripted and Non-Scripted, Preschool) and Odd Squad (Best Program, Live Action Scripted, Ages 6-9 and 9+). Dino Dana star Michela Luci was named Outstanding Youth Performer.

Sarah Kelley

Women in Film & Television Vancouver (WIFTV) has awarded this year’s WIFTV Banff World Media Festival Mentorship to Indigenous film actress and writer Sarah Kelley. She’ll be mentored by Elizabeth Schofield, director of Scripted Development for Omnifilm Entertainment Ltd. In addition to consultation with her mentor, Kelly will have the opportunity to attend the Banff World Media Festival from June 9-12 and meet with the WIFTV team before and during the festival. Kelly previously held a recurring role on the TV series Arrow (2017), a small role in When We Rise (2017), and landed her first big role as supporting lead in the film Kayak to Klemtu (2017).

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (MBB), the body responsible for film funding and media business development in the German states of Berlin and Brandenburg, have announced the reopening of their incentive for the codevelopment and coproduction of digital media projects between Canadian producers and German producers based in Berlin-Brandenburg. Now in its third year, the Canada-Germany Digital Media Incentive’s budget is $450,000, with each funding organization contributing half of the funds. Projects have to be created for digital platforms and can be either a game, a web series, multiplatform content, augmented reality or virtual reality experiences. Click here to access the guidelines. Submissions will close on Sept. 17.

The 32nd annual Miracle Weekend telethon raised more than $21.6 million June 1-2. Broadcast on Global BC, the telethon raises funds for BC Children’s Hospital. Hosting this year were Global personalities Chris Gailus, Sophie Lui, Sonia Sunger and others. Since 1987, the event has raised $292 million.

The 35th annual IWK Telethon raised $6.7 million this past weekend. The live broadcast from the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, as well as locations in Sydney, Saint John and Charlottetown, aired on CTV Atlantic stations. This year, donations will go toward the purchase of new smart beds for the inpatient unit, among other new equipment.

Sportsnet has revealed that the 20th edition of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada will take place in Yellowknife on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. The event will kick off Feb. 5 with an opening event centered around its 20th anniversary with an emphasis on Canada’s Great White North. Lanny McDonald, Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Darcy Tucker are scheduled to attend along with special guests and Sportsnet personalities. More details will be announced in the coming months.

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