Upfronts 2015: CBC unveils new arts initiative, series

The pubcaster is launching a cross-platform initiative to cover the arts, with new material set to bow on digital and linear platforms.
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The CBC unveiled plans at its 2015 upfront presentation Thursday to expand its arts programming on both linear and digital platforms, as well as the addition of a new web series to its Punchline portal.

This summer, the pubcaster will be launching CBC Arts, a cross-platform approach to covering the arts in Canada. On the linear side, this strategy includes the Lark Productions’ TV series Crash Gallery, where four artists compete against each other in a “creative arena” in front of a live audience and the crowd gets to choose the winner. The series premieres on Friday, Oct. 2 at 8:30 p.m. The TV lineup also features The Exhibitions, a half-hour hosted series about creative Canadians, which will bow on Sunday, Oct. 4. Finally, Interrupt This Program, which looks at the underground cultural scenes in global cities hit by political turmoil and unrest, will bow on Friday, Nov. 6 at 8:30 p.m.

The CBC Arts strategy also features several digital productions, such as Canada in the Frame, a web series where hidden cameras record the reactions of Canadians to the art they see while visiting a pop-up gallery. The CBC also teamed up with Secret Location to comission videos from artist collectives across the country to feature in the web project The Collective. Elsewhere, The Re-Education of Eddy Rogo is a web series that follows the autioneer Eddy Rogo as he visits artist’s studios. All of these digital series are set to bow online this fall.

On the comedy side, the webseries Body Buds will premiere on the Punchline portal on June 1. The series follows the exploits of two former fitness personalities who once hosted a popular Canadian 90-second health and fitness segment on TV, and are looking to reclaim their former glory in the new fitness world. Body Buds stars series creators Adam Cawley and Robert Baker.

Riftworld Chronicles, a web series based on the short film The Portal, will also bow this summer on Punchline. The pubcaster announced late last year that the sci-fi series would appear on Punchline. The web series stars Erin Karpluk, Tahmoh Penikett and Munro Chambers. Riftworld Chronicles is coproduction between First Love Films, Sienna Films, the Independent Production Fund and CBC Punchline.

On the drama side, the CBC unveiled some of its newest acquisitions, including When Calls the Heart, Banished, Jekyll and Hyde, and Love Child. Previously announced original dramatic titles include This Life, a Sphere Media-produced adaptation of Radio-Canada’s Nouvelle adresse, and Haddock Entertainment’s The Romeo Section. This Life will air on Mondays at 9 p.m. starting this fall, while The Romeo Section will air at Thursdays at 9 p.m.

The comedy lineup features the previously announced Fool Canada from Shaftesbury, and Accent Entertainment and SEVEN24 Films’ Young Drunk Punk, which CBC earlier said it was bringing over from Rogers as part of a programming swap. Fool Canada will bow in the summer lineup on Tuesdays at 8 30 p.m., while Young Drunk Punk will start airing on the pubcaster in the fall on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.  Other new acquired comedy titles include Please Like Me.

The factual lineup at the upfront was made up mostly of previously announced series, such as Still Standing, Force Four Entertainment’s Keeping Canada Alive and Hello Goodbye from Pivotal Media. Keeping Canada Alive will hit TV this fall in the Sunday 9 p.m. timeslot. The pubacster also unveiled the name of its new docs strand – First Hand – which will showcase doc content from Canadian filmmakers.

The pubcaster also renewed 14 series for the 2015/2016 season, including Dragons’ Den, Schitt’s Creek, Mr. D, Murdoch Mysteries, X Company, The Rick Mercer Report, Heartland and This Hour has 22 Minutes.

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