TORONTO — Bell Media is touting a post-pandemic madness on original Canadian series, with its flagship CTV leaning into competition shows while streaming service Crave is distinctly adding Canadian comedies to its lineup.
The media giant on Thursday detailed a series of local orders for advertisers, which also featured several BIPOC-run shows at its properties, and an hour-long Jann Arden holiday special that will tackle some of the cliffhangers of the season 3 of his CTV comedy “Jann”, which has not yet been renewed.
Bell Media’s vice-president of content development and programming pointed to higher spending on Canadian programming than last year, when orders plummeted amid the pandemic.
“You will see an increase again this year, which is not just about COVID – it is also about our overall mandate to do more originals and see Canadian content as an opportunity to (create) a point of differentiation with our non-Canadian competitors,” Justin Stockman said ahead of the annual television presentation known as Upfronts.
Bell Media said 10 new CTV series include the “Cross Country Cake Off” baking contest and the hour-long “Battle of the Generations” quiz show, which pits baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z to each other.
Scripted additions include the single-camera workplace comedy “Shelved,” set in a Toronto public library; detective series “Sight Unseen” about a former homicide detective who loses her sight and is haunted by unsolved cases; and the mother-daughter detective series “The Spencer Sisters.”
Executives also touted 12 additions for Crave, including the half-hour comedy “Bria Mack Gets A Life,” about a 25-year-old black woman who navigates a predominantly white world with the help of her hype. invisible girl, and the Irish-Canadian co-production “Sisters,” a dark comedy written by and starring real-life best friends Sarah Goldberg of “Barry” and Susan Stanley of “Hotel Amenities.”
Crave will also host ‘Canada’s Drag Race: Canada Against the World’, in which the queens of the international ‘drag racing’ family will compete in the host country, Canada.
Stockman says the pandemic-induced production delays that stalled some series last year have largely been resolved, but the newly created commissions were still in the very early stages of pre-production.
“Canada took a little longer than the United States just because of insurance and other things, but once we started, we’re pumping it all up now,” he says.
“It’s taken a while to get there and there are a lot more protocols and safety measures involved in putting on a show, but we’re full steam ahead.”
Pandemic-related delays have notably delayed the eighth season of “The Amazing Race Canada,” which returns to CTV this summer after the last race in 2019, notes Bell Media’s head of original programming.
“It was delayed for a long time, just because we didn’t think it was really safe to race,” notes Carlyn Klebuc.
“And then there are other shows that were kind of pandemic proof and they were okay…like ‘Pillow Talk,’ which is an English version of a French hit that they actually created. to shoot during the pandemic shooting with couples only.”
Other returning shows include a third season of CTV’s “Transplant” and a third season of “Canada’s Drag Race” and a 12th series of “Letterkenny,” both on Crave.
Also on the way to Crave: the unscripted comedy “I Have Nothing,” by Carolyn Taylor of the “Baroness von Sketch Show”; the comedy “Late Bloomer” created by and starring Jasmeet Raina, or JusReign, inspired by his own experiences with new internet fame, dating, spirituality and culture; the half-hour comedy “One Day We’ll All Be Dead,” based on Scaachi Koul’s book, about a woman juggling her nosy immigrant family and her burgeoning journalistic career; and the documentary “Smoke & Gifts”, about indie band Broken Social Scene.
They join specialty additions including the “Urban Legend” anthology series for CTV Sci-Fi, and previously announced “Acting Good” for CTV Comedy, loosely based on the life of Anishinaabe comedian Paul Rabliauskas, featuring Rabliauskas.
The presentation followed similar splashes by major Canadian broadcasters, including Corus Entertainment on Wednesday, Rogers Sports & Media on Tuesday and CBC last week.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 9, 2022.
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