- Jake in limbo
Unable to secure a broadcast window and sufficient funding, Great North Productions is putting the family series Jake & the Kid on hold.
CanWest Global has decided not to renew the Nelvana coproduced series for a third season. Negotiations with wic, the other broadcaster, have been ongoing over the past month but a firm commitment has not yet been reached, says Great North director of communications Christine Bishop.
Even with a broadcaster on board, the demise of traditional provincial funding sources had placed the series, tentatively scheduled for a June shoot near Edmonton, in jeopardy. The past season of the $10.5 million series was financed with the aid of the last $500,000 from the now-defunct ampdc as well as $3 million from Telefilm Canada, which is also unable to commit any more funding to the show.
Nonetheless, Great North says it aims to revive Jake in the spring of 1998 with a new broadcast window and alternative sources of financing, little consolation for the 150 Alberta-based cast and crew now out of a job. Jake was one of the chief engines of the indigenous production industry, with at least $7 million of its budget spent directly in Alberta.
Internal restructuring at TMN-The Movie Network, Moviepix and Viewer’s Choice Canada resulted in 19 layoffs last week as positions were eliminated. Spokesperson Ellen Davidson says the job losses, which affected all levels of the company, came as the day-to-day operations of ppv service vcc were integrated into tmn.
‘We now have the structure we wanted in place,’ says president Lisa de Wilde, adding she d’es not expect further layoffs as a result of the reorganization. ‘With dth moving in, the changes we’ve made mean we can focus on driving boxes into people’s homes.’
-NFB scoops Yorkton
The National Film Board took home nine of 28 awards at the Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival’s 1997 Golden Sheaf Awards.
Zie 37 Stagen scored six wins: best of the festival, best comedy, best art direction, best cinematography, best sound, and best direction for Sylvain Guy. William Hahn’s Depression-era Merwinsville picked up three awards: best experimental, best editing and best script. The award for best animation went to Peter Vogle for the Claire Maxwell-directed Ernie’s Idea.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Yorkton festival jury selected the winners from over 420 submissions.
-Cactus acquires Courte Echelle rights
Coscient Group subsidiary Cactus Animation has acquired rights to a number of books in the Courte Echelle Premier Roman collection. The properties will be developed as animation series.
More than one million Courte Echelle books have been sold in Quebec and translated in major markets around the world.
In other Cactus news, former Allegro Films and Telefilm Canada exec Ann Picard has joined Cactus Animation as a line producer. Picard will oversee production on Fennec and Blake &
Mortimer, as well as the development of Zark, a new animated sci-fi series.
-A gift from Izzy
Izzy Asper, chairman and ceo of CanWest Global Communications, has pledged $1 million to launch the CanWest Global Foundation for charity.
As profit margins permit, CanWest will add to the capital of its foundation each year so that it will eventually become large enough to continue in perpetuity. The announcement is the first in a series of upcoming initiatives as CanWest celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer.
The multiscreen first-run Cinema Parisien in downtown Montreal has reopened after an eight-month labor dispute based on union salary and working condition demands. The theater chain hopes the Montreal World Film Festival (Aug. 22 to Sept. 2) will return after finding alternative venues last year, including the wff-operated Imperial Cinema.
-Martha g’es daily
Life Network has a deal with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for exclusive Canadian distribution rights to all Martha Stewart Living programming. Beginning Sept. 29, Life will launch the Emmy Award-winning show in its daily incarnation. Life has been the Canadian broadcaster for the Martha Stewart weekly program since 1995. The show attracts more than 500,000 viewers weekly through multiple plays.
-Support grows for Falardeau
A number of prominent Quebec performers organized a fundraising benefit May 30 on behalf of director Pierre Falardeau’s next movie, 15 fevrier 1839.
The film chronicles the final 24 hours of the life of Chevalier de Lorimier, a hero of the 1837 rebellion in Lower Canada condemned for high treason and hung by the British.
Actors and other artists have rallied to the director’s cause with fundraisers and letter campaigns in the press following Telefilm Canada’s refusal to invest in the movie on artistic grounds.
Quebec cultural agency sodec is reported to have committed half of the estimated $2.5 million budget. Falardeau’s early credits include Le Party and Octobre, which did receive Telefilm funds despite political opposition.
Rudy Buttignol, tvontario’s creative head of documentaries, independent production and science, has been appointed the new chair of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Buttignol, who has served on the Academy’s board of directors since 1984, replaces Ann Medina, who was chair for two consecutive terms.
- Jos J. Wintermans is the new president and ceo of Rogers Cablesystems. Wintermans, who starts June 2, hails from Canadian Tire.
- The Toronto division of Women in Film & Television has elected seven new members to its board of directors: director/producer Ric Esther Bienstock; Rita Shelton Deverall, vp production at Vision tv; Shelley Middlebrook, publisher, Playback; Triptych Media partner Anna Stratton; professional screenwriting program advisor Tecca Crosby; Brona Brown Productions president Brona Brown; and media relations consultant Genevieve Kierans. The new members will serve on the 1997/98 board.
- Michel Lavoie, former director of Radio-Canada’s youth and family programming department, has joined SDA Productions as exec producer. Lavoie had a 15-year association with Canadian Sesame Street and will be developing English-track children’s programs at sda.
- Jeff Haire has joined Producers Network Association as director of business affairs.
- Walter Levitt has been appointed director of marketing for Alliance Broadcasting.
- As of June 9, Robert Mitchell will be the corporate spokesperson for CBC Television and Radio.
- Filmmaker and producer Eileen H’eter is now directing the Vancouver Film School’s Foundation Film Program.
- CTV News investigative producer Andrew Mitrovica took a Canadian Association of Journalists award for the second consecutive year. Mitrovica and W5 reporter Elliot Shiff won the award for investigative journalism for a story concerning a secret Ontario Provincial Police report which detailed how every aspect of charitable gambling in Ontario had been infiltrated by organized crime.
- Bob Cooper, the new head of production for DreamWorks features, treks to the film development post from his gig as president at TriStar Pictures, which was preceded by eight years at the helm of HBO Pictures. Back before all the u.s. execdom, Cooper was host of the cbc Ombudsman series and an indie filmmaker in Toronto.