April 15, 2014

Upfronts 2014 | Gloryosky’s Guide to the 2014-15 Canadian Television Upfronts

It’s almost Canadian television upfront time again, where major Canadian media conglomerates sell advertisers on the merits of their programming. This article will be updated as dates, venues, and times for the upfronts are finalized.

Bell Media (CTV): Thursday, June 5, 2014
CBC Television (English): date and venue TBA
Channel Zero (CHCH): Thursday, June 12, 2014; venue TBA; early morning
Rogers Media (City): likely Tuesday, June 3, 2014; time and venue TBA
Shaw Media (Global): likely Wednesday, June 4, 2014; time and venue TBA

Unless otherwise noted, all English-language Canadian television upfronts are held in Toronto, Ontario. Upfront events are not public events; they are by invitation only.

Usually, CBC Television is first with its mid-May media day. CBC Television tends to release its fall schedule ahead of time; this year, CBC Television released the fall 2014-15 schedule (and the 2013-14 cancellations – blame CBC’s recent budgetary cutbacks for that one) earlier than usual, so CBC Television lays practically all its cards on the table weeks ahead of its media day. I don’t understand why CBC Television does this, but that’s its usual strategy.

Rogers Media, Shaw Media, and Bell Media focus most on their terrestrial program services. That reads as obvious, but having attended all three upfronts (Rogers Media in 2012 and 2013; Canwest/Shaw Media from 2010-12; Bell Media in 2012 and 2013), City, Global, and CTV are the top priorities. In particular, Rogers Media, Shaw Media, and Bell Media focus on their terrestrial program services’ prime-time schedules. Bell Media sets the majority of its time aside for CTV’s offerings, whereas Rogers Media and Shaw Media spread attention between their terrestrial and specialty offerings.

Bell Media actually tweeted CTV’s upfront date on Monday, April 14, 2014. Unless I’m bad at paying attention to other online marketing efforts, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a major Canadian media company promote an upfront save-the-date on Twitter. It’s a welcome trend; I hope it spreads.

CHCH’s 2014 upfront will feature the Tiny Talent Time revival in some way. That’s not much of a spoiler, as both the date and Tiny Talent Time‘s involvement were confirmed to me by CHCH marketing manager Rhonda Messieh on March 12, 2014. The Tiny Talent Time revival was announced during CHCH’s 2013 upfront, so the TTT revival has been a while in coming.

Corus Entertainment, Stornoway Communications, ZoomerMedia and Blue Ant Media do not participate in the annual upfront season, as far as I know.

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February 22, 2014

Canadian Screen Week 2014 | FanZone Confirmed Stars (February 22-23, 2014)

As part of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television‘s festivities for Canadian Screen Week, ACCT’s second annual FanZone will be held at Toronto, Ontario’s Eaton Centre, from 11 AM ET to 1 PM ET. Among the confirmed personalities for FanZone – so far, all from Canadian television:

Amazing Race Canada: Jon Montgomery
Big Brother Canada: Peter Brown, Gary Levy
Cracked: David Sutcliffe
Heartland: Amber Marshall
Rookie Blue: Missy Peregrym
Seed: Carrie-Lynn Neales, Adam Korson
Spun Out: Dave Foley

FanZone is a free event, leading up to the second annual Canadian Screen Awards broadcast gala on Sunday, March 9, 2014, at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Entry for FanZone is not guaranteed, and ACCT does not accept advance reservations. This is strictly a photo event; autograph hounds will have to look elsewhere – maybe hit up whoever decides to attend the 2014 Toronto Comicon, for instance. Christian Potenza and Terry McGurrin are Canadian television personalities, too.

FanZone’s full lineup will be officially announced by ACCT on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. Until then, check the ACCT’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts, as well as the #CdnScreen14 and #FanZone tags on Twitter.

This article will be updated on Sunday, February 23, 2014, in the event more personalities are announced ahead of FanZone’s full lineup.

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November 13, 2013

News: November 13, 2013 Canadian Television Press Release Potrzebie

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News: November 12, 2013 Canadian Television Press Release Potrzebie

I used to link to press releases on Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook.  As an experiment – and since my attempts at non-Twitter-based social media come up croppers – URBMN will publish roundups of Canadian television press releases.  People like it when you regularly update a site.

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November 8, 2013

News: Canadian International Television Festival announces inaugural schedule

Barring any last-minute changes, I plan to attend the inaugural Canadian International Television Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The festival runs from November 15-17, 2013; the public portion of the festival runs from November 16-17, 2013.

Upcoming Canadian television shows to be showcased at the inaugural CITF include:

  • 19-2 (November 16; 10:00 AM-1:00 PM).  This is part of a larger panel covering The Amazing Race Canada and Degrassi.
  • Bitten (November 16; 10:00-11:00 PM)
  • Sensitive Skin (November 16; 4:00-5:00 PM)
  • Spun Out (November 16; 8:00-9:00 PM)

The Royal Canadian Air Farce will celebrate its fortieth anniversary on November 16, from 2:00-3:00 PM.  Other events include binge viewing of Sherlock‘s (November 16; 10:00 AM-3:00 PM) and Orphan Black‘s (November 16; 6:00 PM-11:00 PM) first seasons, a bravoFACT short film showcase (November 16; 4:00-5:00 PM), a Bill Brioux discussion on NBC’s fall 1966 preview reel (November 17, 1:00-2:00 PM), and an advance screening/Q&A session based around Murdoch Mysteries (November 17, 4:00-6:00 PM).  The festival closes with the Canadian debut of Sky Arts’ 2012 four-part limited series, A Young Doctor’s Notebook (November 17, 7:00-9:00 PM).

Tickets for the festival are free.  There is a $1.00 surcharge per ticket, for advance online orders.  The Canadian International Television Festival revealed its finalized lineup on November 7, 2013.

I recently wrote an article for TV, Eh? about the Canadian International Television Festival.  To be fair, I wrote the article before plans were finalized for the CITF.  Now that the CITF has a definite form, I’m glad to see the festival on track for next week.

While I can’t claim that the CITF’s overall promotion is ideal, with the majority of the news announced after October 29, 2013, it is a free festival promoting Canadian programming.  If the CITF creates positive word-of-mouth for the programs it promotes, then it does its job.

CITF’s website is at citf13.tv.

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August 14, 2013

Here We Go Again | State of the URBMN Address 2013

Filed under: URBMN 2008-,URBMN Mediamedia — Tags: , , , , , — Cameron Archer @ 10:31 pm
I know.  It’s another boring state-of-my-site address.  This year, I’ll cut the shit.  I don’t have the interest in Canadian television that I did in 2008-11.  I don’t think the Canadian television industry will ever get any better, especially not in the wake of the Bell-Astral deal.  Given that Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and other online outlets recently entered the mainstream content fray, there’s no longer a reason to prop up the “traditional” television business model.  In my opinion, that model is dying by leng tch’e.

URBMN will eventually become Gloryosky, or whatever I decide to call a revamped version of this site, as it transitions into generalist entertainment (yeah, I know, where have you heard that before?)  I won’t leave Canadian television altogether, but there’s no reason to cover a beat I haven’t trusted for at least three years.  My interests have changed.  So must I.

The 2013 Canadian television upfronts – at least, the two I was invited to this year – have let me know that in the face of changing viewer tastes, Bell Media, Shaw Media and Rogers Media will continue to do nothing beyond buying American shows, and marginalizing their Canadian content.  The kicker, for me, was attempting (and failing) to obtain a reason why Shaw Media wouldn’t let me attend its 2013 upfront, after I attended it from 2010-12.  I don’t complain about the exclusion; I complain about receiving no answer to questions about the exclusion.  As it turned out, Shaw Media’s big announcement was DTOUR, so I missed nothing.

Shaw Media sent me a screener disc, which is useless to me.  I don’t normally review prime-time American network shows, nor am I interested in prime-time American network programming.  I am interested in FOX’s Animation Domination High-Def, as that’s a concerted effort to reach out to an audience that doesn’t watch network television.  If I post more stuff for URBMN/Gloryosky, I won’t beat myself up looking for obscure new Canadian shows to review and/or promote.  Canadian television didn’t promote me much when URBMN was active, and I realize it’s not designed to.

The last thing I posted for URBMN was on August 28, 2012, about a crowdfunding initiative I had to abandon, when it was apparent I wouldn’t earn even $50 of the $500 I asked for.  Don’t look for the crowdfunding post; it was on the front page months after I suspended the IndieGoGo campaign, and I feel no need to draw attention to it.  While I’ve published stuff outside of URBMN since August 2012, not only do I not like the direction the Canadian television industry is going, I don’t like the direction I’m going – bitter, defeated, depressed.  It comes from living in a rural area.  I don’t live in Stirling, Ontario by choice.

I have patient supporters in Paul Corupe, Diane Wild, David Kinahan, Mike Valiquette, Marc Weisblott, the good folks at Gravedigger’s Local 16, and anyone who’s a fan of me in social media.  If I’ve snubbed anyone, I apologize.

I also apologize for the long periods of inactivity, with regards to this site.  I’ll post more content for URBMN/Gloryosky in the next twelve months.  Most likely, this will involve a serious rethink of what I post on URBMN/Gloryosky, and/or the retirement of the sweetposer.com domain.  I want my next few years of writing to be happy ones, and I’m not going to accomplish that trying to understand the Byzantine, inner workings of the Canadian television scene.  I realize this is one year to the date of my last “hey, I’m not dead” post, but better this than feeling miserable all the time.

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August 23, 2012

TV Retro Review | Star Wars: Ewoks 1.1 – “The Cries of the Trees”

Filed under: Nostalgia Waxing,TV Reviews,URBMN 2008- — Tags: , , , , , , — Cameron Archer @ 10:44 pm
“The Cries of the Trees” (ABC/Global: September 7, 1985) is Star Wars: Ewoks‘ debut episode, and the debut of a short-lived, hour-long, 9:00 AM block on ABC.  Ewoks and Star Wars: Droids (ABC/Global, 1985-86) should have blown their direct competitors, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies (CBS, 1984-91) and The Smurfs (NBC, 1981-90), out of the water.  It was the battle of merchandising bonanzas – Star Wars vs. the Smurfs vs. the Muppets.

“The Cries of the Trees” is essentially a boy-cries-wolf tale – Wicket (Jim Henshaw), Paploo (Paul Chato), and Teebo (Eric Peterson) play the forbidden game of “drop the sack,” lie about it, and are soon punished even when they’re not lying.  ”Drop the sack,” for those wondering, is a game where Ewoks sit or stand on a high tree branch.  There, the Ewoks throw bags of mud at someone moving a target.  Why this is a “forbidden” game isn’t explained, beyond Paploo complaining about the game’s danger.  The game’s just there to set a subplot in motion.

Morag, the Tulgah witch (Jackie Burroughs), is one of the main villains in Ewoks‘ first season, and the most competent.  Morag curses Queen Izrina, one of the Firefolk.  Izrina begins to burn the forest, infecting her fellow Firefolk with Izrina’s curse.  Morag intends to destroy the Ewoks’ Soul Trees.  This is important, as destroying an Ewok’s Soul Tree destroys an Ewok’s will to live.

Another subplot concerns Ewok shaman Logray (Doug Chamberlain) and Chief Chirpa (George Buza), as they create a “magic foam” to douse forest fires.  Without giving too much away, the “magic foam” and “drop the sack” form two important parts of the show’s dramatic climax.  It helps that the episode is written by Paul Dini, who was later instrumental in developing the DC Animated Universe.

I can tell Dini wrote “The Cries of the Trees.”  The main villain is appropriately evil.  Umwak (Don Francks) is the bumbling henchman, though his schtick doesn’t grate as it did in “The Tree of Light.”  Despite the basic storytelling nature of Ewoks, Dini establishes the Ewoks’ world fairly well, writing Wicket and his friends as proper children.

As this is Ewoks’ first episode, Nelvana’s animation on “The Cries of the Trees” is of better quality than “The Tree of Light.”  It’s not film quality, but it has George Lucas’ name (and, I assume, money) behind it, so “The Cries of the Trees” blows most Saturday morning cartoons of the mid-1980s out of the water.  Even when Nelvana had to patch up a business plan after the failure of the 1983 film, Rock & Rule, the studio’s television work was relatively high-end, compared to Hanna-Barbera, Marvel Productions, Filmation, and Ruby-Spears.

Sadly, Ewoks was never anything more than a brand extension.  On paper, Ewoks and Droids looked appealing to ABC.  The success of two Ewok-centric TV movies softened ABC up for an hour-long, Saturday morning adventure block.

ABC’s Star Wars block took an unholy beating from Muppet Babies and The Smurfs.  Droids moved to the rerun galaxy after thirteen episodes, and an hour-long special.  Ewoks was “overhauled” (read: dumbed down) for 1986-87, and left to die at 11:30 PM.  In the mid-1980s, The Smurfs and Muppet Babies were The Galactic Empire.

I’m not sure if the Saturday morning timeslot restricted Ewoks, if Nelvana wasn’t experienced enough to create a better show, and/or if the Ewoks were overexposed as a whole.  ”The Cries of the Trees” suggests that, with better overall control, Ewoks could have been a credible series.  Ewoks currently sits in the discard pale of Star Wars canon, earning the occasional home entertainment release, but mainly seen as a by-product of savvy marketing.

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August 19, 2012

TV Retro Review | Star Wars: Ewoks 1.6 – “The Tree of Light”

Filed under: Nostalgia Waxing,TV Reviews,URBMN 2008- — Tags: , , , , , , — Cameron Archer @ 1:27 pm
With this entry, I throw my hat back into regular URBMN content.  I will now review shows from the past, as well as the present.  Star Wars: Ewoks (ABC/Global, 1985-86; 1986 as The All New Ewoks) is as good a place to find false nostalgia as any.

“The Tree of Light” (ABC/Global: October 12, 1985) is typical Nelvana tripe from the mid-1980s.  Wicket (Jim Henshaw), Latara (Taborah Johnson), and Princess Kneesaa (Cree Summer) are excluded from an important mission on Endor’s forest moon – the Tree of Light is dying.  The chosen Ewok team needs to sprinkle fairy dust – sorry, Light Dust – on the Tree of Light, before it dies.  The Duloks – tall, ghetto, swamp versions of Ewoks – want the Tree of Light to die, so they can become more of a presence on the forest moon.

The Dulok shaman, Umwak (Don Francks), is the standard bumbling henchman to King Gorneesh (Dan Hennessey).  Umwak is assisted by his nephew (Hadley Kay), though the Duloks – being Nelvana villains – aren’t too bright as a whole.

For instance, Umwak designs a pair of “special glasses,” which are supposed to navigate a cave maze for him.  In practice, they don’t do anything.  The Ewoks, “led” by Weechee (Greg Swanson) and Paploo (Paul Chato), are hardly smarter than the Duloks.  The whole episode’s an excuse to prove Wicket, Latara, and Kneesaa’s worth, as the three abide an Idiot Plot.

Honestly, this episode can be reworked as a Care Bears Family (ABC/Global, 1986-88) episode.  Henshaw, Hennessey and Francks voiced characters in Care Bears Family.  Some of the music cues – the bumbling-henchman synth cues, in particular – have a Care Bears Family sound to them.  Both shows feature living teddy bears, fighting against enemies who want to eradicate said teddy bears.  I know Care Bears Family came a year after Ewoks, but the two shows are eerily similar.

Hell, Henshaw’s Wicket is similar to Tenderheart Bear, while Hennessey uses almost the exact same voice for Gorneesh and Brave Heart Lion.  Hennessey’s a decent voiceover actor, but Nelvana never let the man stretch in the mid-1980s.

As an aside, it’s funny how Henshaw voiced eager do-gooders in the 1980s.  He soon ditched voiceover work, and became a writer/director.  These days, Henshaw’s the resident grump of Canadian television.

Nelvana’s animation on Ewoks is serviceable – not great, but better than 1980s Saturday morning cartoon standards.  Nelvana basically did Ewoks to keep the lights on.  The best part of an Ewoks episode should not be Taj Mahal’s theme song, but that’s what happens with “The Tree of Light.”

Having not seen Ewoks in two decades, I don’t remember the show being this bad.  I’m hardly nostalgic for Star Wars, as I’ve never cared for Star Wars in any of its incarnations.  ”The Tree of Light” just reminds me too much of Care Bears Family.

“The Tree of Light” is from the first season of Ewoks, the season considered superior by Ewoks fans.  If every episode is like “The Tree of Light” – stories where Wicket and friends fix what the other Ewoks fuck up – I have to ask: what is Ewoks superior to?  Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network, 2008- ) has its faults – Clone Wars has never met a film it didn’t steal from – yet it’s a better Star Wars series than Ewoks.  Star Wars fans accepted whatever they were offered, in the bad old days.

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