Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gemini's to "shine" with Hollywood Stars

Well, thank God! Finally! Some sexy talent arrives to a Canadian awards show at long last!

Gotta love our "crown" broadcasting corporation for reflecting national identity during prime time. Why ask for what the people want when you can just tell them what they want?

And Strombo has "edge"? Hmmmm.....I'm craving a Big Mac.....


Geminis to shine with Hollywood stars

The Gemini Awards gala, hosted by the CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos, will feature a clutch of Canadian stars from Hollywood including Sarah Chalke of Scrubs, Men In Trees lead James Tupper and Howie Mandel of Deal or No Deal.

A businessman has stepped in and chartered a private jet to bring a group of stars, including Andrea Roth of Rescue Me and Jason Priestley and Kathleen Robertson, who both starred in Beverly Hills 90210, directly from Los Angeles to Regina for the event on Sunday.

CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos will host Sunday's 22nd Annual Gemini Awards, which honours the best in English-language television.CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos will host Sunday's 22nd Annual Gemini Awards, which honours the best in English-language television.

The annual awards celebrate the best in Canadian English-language television.

Stroumboulopoulos, who hosts The Hour on CBC-TV, says this year's Geminis will be unique. The 34-year-old host has brought his Hour team on as producers of the one-hour show.

For the first time, viewers can vote online for their favourite Canadian on a TV series who is not eligible for a Gemini.

There are 22 actors up for the inaugural Viewers' Choice Award including Mandel, Keifer Sutherland of 24, Lost's Evangeline Lilly, Sandra Oh from Grey's Anatomy, Boston Legal's William Shatner and Kristine Kreuk from Smallville.

The 22nd Annual Gemini Awards will be the first live show open to a public audience. Previously, awards shows were only attended by industry insiders.

And, this will mark the second year in which the show will be held outside of Toronto. The show was held in Vancouver last year.

The audience can expect "tons of star power, great comedy and definitely a few surprises," said CBC producer Steve Sloan.

Many awards, in terms of costume, makeup, news and production, were already handed out prior to Sunday night.

The Regina gala will give out trophies for drama, comedy, acting, feature documentary and top news anchor.

The Gemini Awards will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on CBC Television on Sunday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Telefilm funding frozen


Figures from 2006 show a drop in a share of the box office for Canadian film, especially for French-language films, yet federal funding for film remains frozen.

Actors Patrick Huard, left, and Colm Feore in a scene from comedy Bon Cop, Bad Cop. Telefilm wants to devote more of its funding to comedies.

In a year that spawned box office successes Bon Cop, Bad Cop, Trailer Park Boys and Oscar-nominated Water, Canadian films took just 4.1 per cent of the box office in this country.

Canadian-made productions earned $34.7 million in 2006, down from $44 million in 2005, and market share fell, according to funding agency Telefilm's annual report.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the bilingual cop buddies comedy, set a new box office record of $12.1 million, most of it in Quebec.

But French-language box office suffered a steep slide overall and English-language box office, while on the rise, amounted to just 1.7 per cent of total film tickets sold.

"It's a humbling figure, absolutely," Wayne Clarkson, executive director of Telefilm, told CBC News. "But actually that's a huge increase. It used to be just .3 per cent."

The success of films such as Bon Cop and Trailer Park Boys has encouraged Telefilm to put more of its funding toward comedies, as the return seems to be so good, he said.

"What we've noticed is that we were doing too many conventional dramas and not enough comedy," Clarkson said. "There's a wealth of comedic writers in this country."

The decision to spend more Telefilm dollars on comedy in the English market could result in five or six comedy features produced annually, he said.

Wayne Clarkson, Telefilm executive director, is 'hopeful' of receiving more money.Wayne Clarkson, Telefilm executive director, is 'hopeful' of receiving more money.

English-language films made in Canada also get overshadowed by the huge marketing budgets for Hollywood films, so Telefilm is directing money toward supporting the release of new films.

One beneficiary was feature film Shake Hands With the Devil, which received financial incentives for marketing in both the English and francophone markets.

The steep decline in French-language box office — from 26.6 per cent in 2005 to 17.1 per cent in 2006 — was a result of fewer films on offer in 2006, according to Telefilm's annual report.

This supports the position of francophone filmmakers who put pressure on the federal government for more money last year, saying filmmakers with a great track record were being turned down for funding.

Number of films made declines

Just 32 films were made in 2006, down from 36 in 2005 and 47 in 2004. Francophone films had a record box office share in 2004, a year marked by strong productions such as C.R.A.Z.Y.

Although films such as Le secret de ma mère, Maurice Richard, Les Boys IV and Une dimanche a Kigali each earned more than $1 million in 2006, the smaller number of films made resulted in smaller overall box office.

The federal government has yet to commit more money to Telefilm, though Clarkson says he's "hopeful."

However, SODEC, the Quebec film funding agency, is devoting an extra $10 million to get some additional films made.

But as Quebec talent gets more ambitious, the cost of individual films is rising.

"Quebec producers will be looking to international partnerships," Clarkson said, pointing to Denis Arcand's L'Âge des ténèbres which had international financing.

"Ultimately there will be demand for new money, if we want to sustain the growth we've seen so far."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Writers Guild votes overwhelmingly to authorize a strike

In what union officials say is a record turnout, 90% of members approve a walkout if a contract can't be settled by Oct. 31.
By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 20, 2007
Hollywood's film and TV writers are ready to trade their pens for picket signs if they can't reach a deal with their employers by Halloween.

Members of the Writers Guild of America voted by an overwhelming margin to authorize their leaders to call a strike if they can't negotiate a three-year contract with the major studios to replace one that expires Oct. 31. Of 5,507 members who voted, 90% favored granting a strike authorization. Guild officials said the turnout was a record for the union, which has nearly 12,000 members.

"Writers do not want a strike, but they are resolute and prepared to take strong, united action to defend our interest," said Patric M. Verrone, the guild's president. "What we must have is a contract that gives us the ability to keep up with the financial success of this ever-expanding global industry."

The vote -- sought by guild leaders to give them more leverage in negotiations that have been stymied by deep differences -- marked the first time writers have voted on such an authorization since 1988. That vote paved the way for a 22-week strike that cost the entertainment industry an estimated $500 million.

The vote doesn't mean there will be an immediate strike, but it gives guild leaders the option of calling one sometime after the expiration of the contract.

Few were surprised by the results announced Friday, given that contract talks have been highly contentious and both sides have spent months preparing for a showdown. Seeking to defuse tensions, the major studios on Tuesday withdrew a proposed revamping of the decades-old residuals payment system, removing a major stumbling block to negotiations.

But that decision came too late to have much effect on the vote because most guild members had already cast their ballots. Studios have held the line on the union's other key demands, such as granting residuals for shows streamed over the Web free and giving writers a bigger cut of home video sales.

"A strike authorization vote is a pro forma tactic used by every union in the country, and usually the vote is overwhelmingly in favor of a strike," said Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

"We are not surprised with the outcome of this vote, given reports of how this election was conducted. Our focus is on negotiating a reasonable agreement with the WGA."

Writers have rallied behind a theme that might best be summed up by the Who's hit song "Won't Get Fooled Again." Writers maintain they were shortchanged years ago when they agreed to a discounted pay formula for home video sales, only to see that business take off. And they're determined not to make the same mistake again as the digital revolution upends the entertainment industry.

"The guild made a bad deal 20 years ago and they've been angry ever since and they don't want to do it again," said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment industry attorney with TroyGould in Los Angeles and a former associate counsel for the Writers Guild. "That's why we're seeing a line drawn in the sand."

For their part, the studios maintain that DVD sales are needed to offset rising marketing and production costs, and they contend that it's too early to lock into pay formulas for shows distributed online because technologies are rapidly changing and they're still grappling with uncertain business models.

Although the vote drew wide support from writers, one of the guild's more prominent members blasted the union's handling of the ballots.

Writing on his blog Thursday night, Craig Mazin, whose credits include the films "Scary Movie 4" and the upcoming "Superhero!" accused the guild of breaking from a long-standing practice of conducting elections through secret ballot. Mazin wrote that a union "strike captain" called him, saying she had been informed by the guild that Mazin had not voted, and she urged him to do so.

"I'm disgusted with guild leadership for daring to be so bold, and for abandoning such an obvious and necessary prerequisite for a fair and decent democratic referendum," he wrote.

A guild spokesman said, "Members were encouraged to vote, but how they voted was completely secret."

Until recently, conventional wisdom was that the guild would not walk out immediately but would work without a contract until early next year, to line up its negotiations with the more powerful Screen Actors Guild, whose contract expires June 30. SAG representatives have been sitting on the sidelines of the writers' talks, and both unions have been closely aligned on a number of issues, especially concerns about Internet pay. As is often said, writers can't shut down production, but actors can. For that reason, many studio executives have been more focused on preparing for a possible actors' strike next summer.

In an effort to shift the spotlight back on their union, Writers Guild leaders have declared in recent weeks that members are prepared to walk out as early as Nov. 1. The change in strategy was partly an effort to jump-start negotiations that were going nowhere, according to guild insiders. Guild leaders also reasoned that they could inflict more damage by striking during the middle of the fall TV season than by waiting until early next year, when studios would have stockpiled more scripts.

Although networks have enough shows to carry them through the fall season, a strike next month would disrupt midseason programs that begin airing in January and next year's TV pilot season. A prolonged walkout could force the networks to cancel a number of series in advance of the key February sweeps period, when the networks showcase their best shows to drive up ratings that help establish the advertising rates for television stations.

Writers Guild leaders also were said to be concerned that the Directors Guild of America would negotiate an early deal, setting a framework for the other talent unions and potentially undercutting the Writers Guild's own goals. The Directors Guild has laid the groundwork for negotiations to begin this year, well before its contract expires in June.

Walking out next month, however, poses a considerable risk for the Writers Guild. Today's studios are better able to withstand a strike than in 1988 because they're owned by media conglomerates with deep pockets.

For their part, network executives have been preparing for a strike for months and say they will be ready should a walkout happen. They've ordered an unusual number of pilots for next year and have lined up a plethora of reality TV shows, sports programs and shows culled from their libraries to fill the airwaves during a strike.

Writers are rushing to finish scripts by Oct. 31, the deadline many studios have imposed. Some feature film studios have put a moratorium on signing deals with writers until the contract dispute is resolved.

Writers also are trying to grapple with far-reaching strike rules the guild recently announced. The rules could prove especially nettlesome for so-called hyphenates, writers who also work as producers and directors, who find themselves caught between two warring groups. To keep working, and to avoid possible fines and sanctions by their unions, some writers have signed contracts to work as "producer consultants," said one entertainment industry attorney, an arrangement that would allow them to cross picket lines.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Global laying off 200 across Canada

"New digital technology will permit broadcast centres to insert graphics and sets that are tailor-made for the local news markets, while creating a look that will unify the newscasts under the Global and E! umbrellas."

From the Financial Post:

CanWest cuts 200 TV jobs; moves to more digital offerings
Barbara Schecter, National Post
Published: Thursday, October 04, 2007

TORONTO -- CanWest MediaWorks expects to shed about 200 jobs from its news operations over the next 18 months as it centralizes broadcasting operations in four cities and invests in new digital technology.

Christine McGinley, senior vice-president of operations for CanWest MediaWorks, which runs the Global Television and E! networks, said news coverage in cities including Hamilton, Montreal and Winnipeg will continue to be assigned, gathered and anchored locally, but newscasts will be broadcast from control rooms in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto.

The reorganization does not require approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission because the hours of local programming required by the broadcaster's television licences will be maintained, said Ms. McGinley.
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"We are evolving from an analogue to a digital world, and we have to be there whether we want to or not," she said, noting a regulatory requirement for all Canadian broadcasts to be switched over to high-definition signals by 2011.

Production staff affected by the cuts announced Thursday are being encouraged to apply for 50 new positions at the four broadcast centres, which are all expected to be operational by the spring of 2009.

CanWest is investing $30-million in the new digital broadcast centres. The annual savings resulting from the job reductions will be determined when the exact number of layoffs is known, a company spokesperson said. One analyst estimated the savings would amount to about $7-million to $10-million a year.

The cuts will go further than production and technical staff in the Maritimes and Quebec, where news operations are unprofitable, said Ms. McGinley.

Six full-time and two part-time employees in Quebec City were given layoff notices Thursday, leaving two full-time news staff to cover events there, she said.

CanWest employs about 2,000 production staff across its broadcasting operations, with about 1,500 of those at its stations across the country.

Steve Wyatt, senior vice-president of news and information at CanWest MediaWorks, said the new digital technology will permit broadcast centres to insert graphics and sets that are tailor-made for the local news markets, while creating a look that will unify the newscasts under the Global and E! umbrellas.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

American TV shows sweep Top 10 in Canada

"Once again, Canada television shows failed to crack the top 20 primetime list despite hundreds of millions of dollars being spent annually by the Canadian television fund."


The first week of the fall television season in Canada is now complete and BBM Nielsen Media Research reports that, for the key adult 18-49 demographic that advertisers cherish, every primetime show in the top ten was produced in the United States and rebroadcast in Canada.

Once again, Canada television shows failed to crack the top 20 primetime list despite hundreds of millions of dollars being spent annually by the Canadian television fund.

The top five primetime shows in Canada among viewers 18-49 for the week of September 24th were House, Grey's Anatomy, Survivor: China, Heroes and CSI.

Nationally, House was seen by 1.93 million adults 18-49 while Grey’s Anatomy delivered 1.42 million and Survivor: China garnered 1.34 million viewers. Among all viewers aged 2+, the top show in the first week of the new fall season was Grey’s Anatomy on CTV delivered 2.6 million viewers while Survivor: China came second with 2.45 million viewers.

The following is a list of the Top 10 Primetime shows in Canada for the week of September among Adults 18-49 according to BBM Nielsen Media Research

  1. House (Global) - 1.93 million
  2. Grey's Anatomy (CTV) - 1.42 million
  3. Survivor: China (Global) - 1.34 million
  4. Heroes (Global) - 1.14 million
  5. CSI (CTV) - 1.11 million
  6. CSI Miami (CTV) - 1.1 million
  7. Desperate Housewives (CTV) - 1.01 million
  8. CSI New York (CTV) - 963,000
  9. Prison Break (Global) - 920,000
  10. Family Guy (Global) - 827,000

Canadian primetime television shows failed to crack the top twenty among Adults 18-49.

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