Monday, March 30, 2009

10th Avenue Take Out

In light of the recent hard times supposedly befalling Canadian broadcasters, I remembered this article about a TV series called Rockstar Curling that NBC had in the works last year.

The Toronto Star reported Monday that NBC has acquired exclusive rights to launch 10 episodes of a proposed television show called Rockstar Curling.

Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, apparently closet curlers, are among the megastar rockers being courted to host it.

Citing unnamed sources, the Star said the two rock stars are among a group of entertainment types who rent arena time on occasion to pick up brooms instead of guitars.

Organizers are trying to negotiate a deal to get one of them involved in the proposed show, possibly as a host.

The series' winners could wind up with a berth at the U.S. championships and perhaps at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Sure 'Men With Brooms' kinda tanked, but some Canuck network should still jump all over this as a co-pro (if they already haven't) would be HUGE up here, don't you think? The Boss could toss a rock and then launch into a medley of "Iceman" and "Hearts of Stone"...or Bon Jovi could furiously sweep while belting out "Let It Rock".

C'mon...they could bring back Foreigner who could play an end and then perform "Cold As Ice"...or Bob Seger and the Silver Bullets could throw an in-turn draw while reviving 'Like A Rock' (GM and Chevy would probably like that right now)...Led Zep reunite and bring their brooms and some "Rock N' Roll". Personally I'd want to see the Talking Heads back together on the ice making their opponents nervous by singing "Burning Down The House"

Not to mention all the Cancon opportunities --- Brian Adams with "Kids Wanna Rock", Loverboy and "Turn Me Loose", or Nickleback could rewrite the lyrics to "Rockstar" and that could be the theme song! (though this song or this song might give it a run for its money)

Somebody stop me...or chime in with your dream curling rockstars and their song...

Ugh...have since been informed that not only is this project dead in the water, but the 'rockstar' component was incorrectly reported.

Still...could've been a hit, no?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Superstition And Sunshine

Been that kind of week...some ups, but lotsa downs. So Friday Fun is about getting your groove on and finding some cheer-up. First with Stevie Wonder on Seasame Street (love the one kid dancing)...

And then KC and the Sunshine Band doing the things, we like to do...

(stick with this one...the second half just kicks it)

Because they make me wanna do a little smile, make a lotta dance...get down tonight.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is The CRTC Hearing The Grilling?

A summary HERE of the first day of hearings of the Parliamentary Committee Study On Local TV Crisis with members of the CRTC getting questioned by MP's.

Some excerpts:

MPs grilled Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, on measures he could be taking to help broadcasters struggling to survive the recession.

With local TV stations closing or threatened with closure, MPs of all stripes are feeling pressure from constituents _ and seeing outlets for their own publicity disappearing. The hearings came the same day CBC announced it was slashing 800 jobs.

Von Finckenstein said the CRTC is prepared to temporarily lower the Canadian content and local programming requirements on private broadcasters in dire straits. The commission has also introduced a new $60-million fund to help local stations pay for more shows.

Regulators have also cleared the way for broadcasters to charge cable and satellite companies for time-shifting, the practice of transmitting one local TV signal to areas outside the normal viewing area.

But the chairman said these are all short-term fixes. Politicians and the industry need to help with a larger policy plan.

Later on, von Finkenstein discussed carriage fees:

Both Liberal and Conservative MPs continually pressed von Finckenstein on one of the major grievances of private broadcasters, their desire to charge cable and satellite companies for the privilege of transmitting their programs, referred to as ``fee for carriage.''

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said Wednesday he also feels the time has come for such a fee to be introduced.

In the past, the idea has been politically unpalatable because the costs of those fees would be passed onto the consumer.

Things have changed now, with politicians fearing the demise of their local stations.

``As much as you say fee for carriage is not the solution, the status quo is not the solution either,'' said Conservative MP Patrick Brown, whose riding risks losing a local A-Channel station.

``The status quo means no local programming in my community.''

Liberal Scott Simms asked the chairman: ``If I bring up the issue of fee for carriage, is this a fait accompli for you? Is this over for you?'' .

Von Finckenstein deflected the criticism on fee for carriage, telling MPs that the broadcasters had never been able to promise that the additional revenues would result in stable local programming.

Fee for carriage would represent an estimated $300 million in revenues annually for stations, of which there are 125 in Canada. Which ones would theoretically get the cash is a matter for debate.

``Fee for carriage is not the answer,'' von Finckenstein said, while acknowledging it is still on the table for discussion.

The grilling continues today, if it can really be called a 'grilling'...more like a light browning taken with a few grains of salt.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Regulating Rules In A Rigged Game

The race for the private Canadian networks' license renewal Cup is underway and heading for a finish in the form of mid-April hearings in front of our regulatory body, the CRTC.

Some thoughts on regulation, prompted by this Canadian Press article. (yeah I know the feds have backpedaled from those statements but let's not pretend the sentiment has gone away)

The Harper government is considering help for Canada's troubled private TV broadcasters, including the possibility of looser regulations and tax changes.

Heritage Minister James Moore said Wednesday that the federal cabinet is aware of the threat to local news content should more local stations close.

And he confirmed that the government is looking specifically at how to assist CanWest Global Communications, which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

"We're mindful of that and we're thinking about whether or not there's anything the government can do, but I can't be any more specific than that right now," Moore said. He hinted the help could come in the form of looser regulations and changes to the tax system, which would also help other private networks.

"The role of the government is to make sure the regulatory regime, the tax regime is more flexible, more forgiving and more open in the future," Moore said.

"We're a low-taxation government that does not believe in over-regulating industries that are struggling."

I'll repeat that last part again, "We are a low-taxation government that does not believe in over-regulating industries that are struggling."

It's weird how regulation up here in Canadian TV has become such a dirty word lately, especially for the major networks and the cable companies. This after we've witnessed how a lack of regulation in other areas and industries has contributed to such a global financial crisis/mess.

But let's get real...

The private Canadian broadcasters have played on a protected field for a long time now, a field created by CRTC regulation. That regulation has permitted the simulcast situation which not only increased their ad revenue tenfold but prevented American networks from competing with them directly. Further to that, our broadcasters have also had the benefit of government subsidies -- tax credits, Telefilm, CTF envelopes, etc. -- also created by regulation, so they can generate their 'required' indigenous product while not having to pay market prices in terms of license fees.

And now that that very generous business model appears to be broken (or ain't working as well as it has), the private networks are howling foul and no fair and crying poor (although this piece by Kelly Toughill about CTV's healthy operating profits last year seems to say otherwise). And they've been lobbying the CRTC for a bailout, not necessarily in the form of a cash handout per say, but in the form of looser regulations...less local/regional programming, less Canadian content, less taxation, and perhaps even a carriage fee per cable company subscriber.

It's so bizarre because not only have these organizations already gotten relief in the past but they now want more relief from the very criteria they were assigned when their licences were granted to operate in the first provide Canadian programming – prime-time dramas, documentaries, variety programs, local and national news, and so on.

Further to that, the CBC is being told to live within its relief, no bailout, no loosening. This while the private broadcasters, who have already made big gains recently with the revamp of the Canadian Media Fund, appear to be on the verge of getting cut even more slack - while still being able to ad substitute and simulcast U.S. network programming.

And the irony of all this is how the U.S. networks are now financing many of their own programs under the banner of 'co-productions' using Canadian tax credits and cable subscribers money via the various television funds, etc. ...not to mention the internet is completely changing the way the game has been played...c'mon people, it's FUCKED!

McGrath is back with a vengeance and says it all but better HERE, plus offers up some things we can do as regular people if we want to object. He also posts a wicked assessment of the Fox news debacle and why we shouldn't be surprised HERE. Henshaw's been saying the same thing at his digs for a while now, like HERE. And this week the Globe & Mail's John Doyle makes a nice case for saving local stations and their services HERE. Against the odds a few of us are still trying to present the perspective of the other side or at least paint the 'big' picture.

But you've probably already zoned out. We've ALL been saying the same thing over and over for the past couple years and I'm sure it just becomes white noise after a while. But if you can take away something, take away this: we aren't writing about this issue just to whine sour grapes or to crazytalk call down the big nasty networks and the corporations that own them...we write about it because we still have hope for a small but entertaining, vibrant yet homegrown Canadian television industry...subsidized or not.

Ten years ago, regulatory changes loosened 'the rules' and gave the networks 'relief'...relief that not only drastically reduced drama production in Canada but led to recent bidding wars between said networks for more and more U.S. programming. And the proposed 'relief' that's being put forward today will just prop up this broken model for a little longer while continuing to decimate the homegrown indigenous industry.

Canadian TV doesn't's just never had a fighting chance.

So, what's my point. I dunno..I guess I'd like the CRTC to 'regulate' broadcasting to the production community's advantage for a change, or get out of the regulation business. But that will never happen, not on our private broadcasters watch. Because for all their clamouring for deregulation, its the 'regulating' that's actually been a sweet deal for them so far.

And I just hate sitting around and saying nothing. So if just one reader stopping by has their perspective challenged and maybe even writes their MP a letter of objection regarding the CBC getting slammed and the private networks getting more breaks, then I'll take that as a little victory...a small win is better than nothing.

Especially when the game is more or less rigged.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Super Channel Party's Down

Party Down, the new series from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas, premieres tonight here in Canada at 9pm EST on Super Channel.

From the press release, Party Down is about a group of struggling dreamers who are stuck working for tips while waiting for their big break. As employees of the L.A. catering company "Party Down," these misfits mingle with guests at everything from sweet sixteen parties to the most lavish Hollywood soirees.

The series is staffed with a combination of Veronica Mars alumni and airs on the Starz network in the U.S. (who has recently joined the growing list of cable nets creating original programming).

It's a pretty funny ensemble half hour comedy in mockumentary vein of Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Office...I really enjoyed it. If you don't have Super Channel, subscribe! Or if you want to taste a sample first you can check out the first episode online at the SuperU website HERE.

Party on!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I'll Tell Stories..I'm Not Afraid

I still haven't made up my mind whether Kevin Pollack's Chat Show is something to get excited about or not...but will give it a shout out and let you go see and decide for yourself.

Here's the deal - Kevin Pollack, very funny and very talented actor/comedian, recently falls in love with all the possibilities of twittering and the interwebs and the youtubes and decides to host a talk show. On the internet. Live.

Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show is a live streaming video talkshow seen every Sunday, 5pm, PST, at An award-winning actor, Pollak (The Usual Suspects, Casino, A Few Good Men) was also named by Comedy Central as One of the Top 100 Comedians of All Time. Here, he interviews celebrated actors, writers, directors, comedians, and masters of the tech universe.

Here's how it worked. Last night at 5 PST you went HERE and for two hours could watch Pollock first interview Lavarr Burton (Star Trek: TNG) and then Samm Levine (Freaks & Geeks) in a 'let's just shoot the shit' kinda way as the pictures and sound streamed live to you. The set was very low tech...basically a table between two chairs against a non-descript background. There were two cameras, one on Pollack and one on the guest. There was a Director or someone switching between the two cameras. And when it came to playing clips (I thought this was actually pretty cool), it appeared onscreen in a Quicktime/YouTube-type player.

The picture and sound quality was average...not 'great' and not 'brutal'...but certainly acceptable I thought. And below the video player was a chat screen where you could log in and comment or ask questions. That element (which I'm sure was what was supposed to make it different from 'your daddys talk show') kind of got lost in the shuffle. Chat text gets flying fast and furious and though a lot of it was just knobs saying things like: freaks n geeks suucckked or Do Walken - HAHA ROTFL...some legitimate questions would appear but then disappear quickly up the screen as people continued to comment.

At any rate, there weren't too many queries fielded from the internet audience...but it didn't really matter. Pollack seemed to be enjoying himself and the guests seemed to be enjoying themselves...there was a lot of funny stories told and behind the scenes scoop and poop. Overall, I would have to agree with several of the commenters that posted: Better than Fallon's first show.

There was a counter under the player that listed 'Visitors' and 'Online Now'. Nearly 30,000 visitors dropped by over the course of the entire program, while around 1,500 - 2,000 were consistently online watching.

Is that a interwebby net hit? Or a complete bust? How much does it cost to produce and stream something like this? I have no idea. But what I could gather during the interviews and some of Pollacks recent Youtube video diary posts, this has been all thrown together in less than a month with next to no promotion. So all and all I would consider it a success.

And next week he has on Joe Montegna and Jim 'Hot Pockets' Gaffigan...kewl.

Anyway, here's what will bring me back. Pollack and Levine were dishing some of the dirt behind the scenes of Tarantino's new movie Inglorious Bastards (Levine has a role), and then they segued into some of the hoops actors have to jump through when auditioning for directors, and both referenced Rip Torn. The stories! Legendary! exclaims Levine. And then Pollack says:

"I'll tell stories. Not tonight because I want to talk with you (Levine), but I'll tell stories...I'm not afraid."

And that's when I thought...'Hmmm'...this could get interesting.

Check it out next Sunday and see what you think.

EDIT: Apparently last night's show is available via iTunes HERE in top right corner.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stop Fast Forwarding!!

Would we use our PVR's for skipping commercials as much as we do if there were more ads like these? Friday Fun thinks so.

For the ladies:

And the guys:

Or for everyone!

Because they made me smile.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I'm Watching, And Who's Directing What?

Just did a quick running count of what shows I'm watching every week...and the list ain't that long I'm sad to say.

Top of the list is NBC's Chuck. For a show that was fun but felt a little fluffy early on, it has evolved into one smart funny action/comedy. Tonight's episode was a repeat, 'Chuck Versus The Seduction', but it was an early Season 2 ep that really helped the series turn a corner for me. A fun A-line, a couple of wicked guest spots from John Larroquette and Melinda Clarke, and a nice complimentary B-line at the Buy More store...all deftly directed by Winnipeg-boy and Psi Factor alumnus Allan Kroeker!

Sidebar: it just blows my mind how many Canadian TV directors I know or have worked with up here in the past that are just tearing it up on the U.S. primetime nets these days. Kroeker has not only helmed a lot of Chuck's, he's also done a whack of Bones, not to mention eps of Pushing Daisies, Knight Rider, and a Dollhouse. David Straiton (who wrangled a dinner with me ages ago to grill me on how to get out of directing commercials and into episodic television --- I'm gonna say I gave him good advice but I really can't remember what I said) has become a regular director on House, done multiple episodes of Life, eps of Knight Rider, My Own Worst Enemy, and also a Dollhouse. Stephen Williams is a co-executive producer on Lost and has directed like 25 episodes of the series, this after doing Las Vegas, Kevin Hill, and a long stint on Crossing Jordan. Milan Cheylov has become a regular director on 24....and before that, gigs on Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles, Knight Rider, Prison Break, and Las Vegas. 24 has been a boon for a lot of Canadian directors, including Brad Turner (35 episodes plus stints on Bones and Life On Mars) and Jon Cassar (Cassar is also a co-exec producer of 24 and is approaching 60...60! episodes directed of that series alone). Alex Chapple has been busy on Law And Order, Law And Order: Criminal Intent, Crusoe, and Bionic Woman. Holly Dale has been filling her time between Canadian standout shows like Durham County and Flashpoint with multiple eps of Cold Case, and stints on Life, Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles, and Heroes. And James Head has been helming Kyle XY, Reaper, and a whack of The Dead Zone's.

And of course from our blogging circle (Boot In The Pants) there's Ken Gerotti, who has been tearing it up on Rescue Me, Law And Order: Criminal Intent, Burn Notice, and The Beast.

(I'd been considering trying to gather up a bunch of these folks for a big TV directing Q&A blogfest but I'm thinking now I may be too starstruck to come up with any decent questions!)

And then there's Grant Harvey, David Winning, Stephen Surjik, Ron Oliver, Michael Robison...sheesh...I know I'm forgetting or missing some, but this sidebar is already wayyy too long. And I know some of them come back up to work on the occasional Canadian show, but still, kinda makes you wonder how a lot of our homegrown series might have benefited if the Hollywood machine hadn't sucked most of these talented directors down south.

Anyhow...I've lost some of my steam for this post. AMC's Breaking Bad is a definite can't miss...30 Rock still makes me laugh consistently (The Office, not so much anymore)...The Daily Show and The Colbert Report of course.....South Park when there are new ones....Bones and Life are always on the PVR but I don't always watch them all...Being Erica and Wild Roses and Flashpoint because I know a lot of people involved but don't always watch them all either.....Super Channel's Burn Notice was a pleasure, and their Trust Me is okay but hasn't sucked me in yet...Fringe when it was on....and I have gotten through every Dollhouse but let me just say that I've been giving it a HUGE grace period so far because, quite frankly, I'm really not enjoying it.

And that's about it. BSG isn't on list because I'm watching it from beginning on DVD...and even though I caught up on Lost via DVD over the past six months, the new season lost me after three or four eps (or I'd just been spoiled by the DVD viewing experience) and so will wait until this season comes out later this year and watch it straight through then.

And maybe, after tonight, I may add Movie Network/Movie Central's The Line to the list.


And so it goes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Less Than Radio Radio Beastie Goodness

Flashing back to when SNL could be cool...musically at least (Kelly Clarkson?)

First, watch THIS CLASSIC CLIP of Elvis Costello's appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1977 when he halted "Less Than Zero" a few bars into it and then ripped into "Radio Radio".

It got him banned from SNL for twelve years.

I remember watching this when it originally aired. I was a skinny teen over at my best friend Dave's house (because he was the only pal I knew who had cable television at the time here in Buttkick) and we were all excited to hear some of this 'punk rock' we'd been hearing rumblings about. The musical guests on SNL up to that point had been pretty mellow (Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Leo Sayer, Carly Simon, etc.), and however silly it'd be to classify Costello as 'punk' today (though that's how he was billed and introduced as on the program), at the time I did turn to my friend Dave and say: "Whoa...what the heck just happened?"

Then watch this riff on that riff from SNL's 25th anniversary show in 1999 when Costello 'sabotages' the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" — and they perform "Radio Radio" together.

"I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me"

Damn. So cool.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Leave Those Pig Bird's Behind

Richard Condie is a Canadian animator best known for his shorts The Big Snit and Getting Started, but here is a little seen and somewhat surreal PSA he produced for Canada Customs...still, it's Friday Fun worthy for sure.

Because it makes me smile.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Good Role Models Again

A repost...since this film was released on DVD yesterday. And though I stand to gain absolutely nothing by pushing it, when I thought back through the comedy movies I saw last year, Role Models still stood out as my favourite.

So, like, go rent it if you haven't seen it...

Saw Role Models a couple nights ago with the teenage daughter, and even though I experienced slight discomfort when boobies were flashed on screen (is there ever a time when watching sex and nudity in movies with your children isn't awkward?), we both enjoyed it immensely. Paul Rudd is snide but sweet, Seann William Scott is simple but solid, and the supporting cast delivers big time.

Lowbrow funny with lots of heart, it's got a kind of 'School of Rock' meets 'Clerks II' feel. Even though this trailer makes it seem like a PG Disney flick, this R-rated trailer tells it like it is.

EDIT: I've been advised that if I'm going to be plugging worthwhile rentals of the week, I should also mention Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York (review HERE and trailer HERE) and the 'un-vampire movie' Let The Right One In (trailer HERE).

Check them all out...I'm betting you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We'll Get Drunk On Cheap Wine!

After the shit that's gone down the past couple days, I figure we all could use a song of hope...but something edgey with a serious dance beat, ya know?

(album version HERE)

Play it loud.


For DMc.

Monday, March 09, 2009

More Black Monday? Or Just Waiting For Wednesday...

Two more articles to point out today...the first from HERE with the headline: CBS, NBC Buy Canadian TV Programs To Save On Costs

U.S. networks have made shows in Canada for years to gain tax benefits. Now they are buying dramas written and produced for Canadian TV and set north of the border. CTV, the nation’s largest private broadcaster, is sharing costs and will air shows at the same time. The results are licensing fees for new dramas that are about half the typical $1.6 million per episode.

“We may, in five years, look back upon all this and it’s a blip, but I don’t think so,” said Peter Sussman, partner at Toronto-based Aver Media LP, which financed “Flashpoint.” “The economics of Canadian and U.S. co-production create a model that can’t be ignored.”

The other article is from the Hollywood Reporter HERE, which I keep thinking may be a misprint as I've read nothing of this in any of the Canuck rags yet the headline reads: Canada Rejects Cutback On U.S. Series Buys

The Canadian government has rejected a proposal by the country's TV regulator to curb domestic broadcasters' spending on U.S. series. Federal Heritage Minister James Moore said Monday that Ottawa should not impose conditions or quotas on how Canadian broadcasters buy U.S. programming.

"(Canadian) broadcasters have their own business model," Moore said. "They keep their business models going forward as best they can. Far be it for me to second-guess how to run a broadcast network and programming."

His comments follow a CRTC proposal to use upcoming license renewal hearings to consider whether expenditures on homegrown TV shows should match those for American fare.

Domestic broadcasters contend that they require the profits generated by airing U.S. series to subsidize the production of expensive homegrown dramas. Canadian indie producers, unions and guilds favor the CRTC's proposal for a so-called 1:1 ratio on Canadian and non-Canadian program expenditures as a welcome measure to promote homegrown series production.

Moore said his job is to encourage the production of homegrown programming, a role that on Monday saw him move to merge the Canadian Television Fund and the Canadian New Media Fund into a rebranded CAN$310 million ($241 million) Canada Media Fund.

The CTF, the main source of government subsidies for Canadian indie producers of primetime TV shows, will be reformed to create more homegrown content available to Canadians over more digital platforms and to be sold internationally. Ottawa also will allow Canadian broadcasters to make their own TV series in-house as well as commission series from indie producers.

The federal minister made his announcement on the Toronto set of the CBS and CTV police drama "Flashpoint," a Canadian-U.S. network partnership Moore wants to see more of.

That Moore wants to see more of....hmmm.

If this Hollywood Reporter piece is for real and Moore has in fact quashed the proposed 1:1 foreign/domestic spend, then these two articles are essentially saying the same thing: look for more US/Canadian co-productions and partnerships, and these productions will be able to access and use up the resources and monies supposedly set aside for independent Canadian TV producers and production.

A brand new day for Canadian TV (as long as it has the U.S. seal of approval)? Or...yikes!

Who knows...depends on how it all shakes out in the wash.

Black Monday? Or Just Business As Usual In The World Of Canadian TV....

So the big news flittering and twittering around the internets this morning was the announcement by Heritage Minister James Moore to merge the Canadian Television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund into the Canadian Media Fund.

From Greg Quill at the Toronto Star:

The (CTF) fund, which is the source of taxpayer subsidies to the Canadian television production industry, will be combined with the Canada New Media Fund, which subsidizes digital media development starting April 1, 2010.

The government will invest $134.7 million annually in the new program, called the Canada Media Fund, Heritage Minister James Moore said at a press conference today on the Toronto set of the CTV police drama series, Flashpoint. "We are levelling the playing field at a time when the industry is undergoing structural change," Moore said. "The eligibility for funding for broadcaster-affiliated production will be expanded, and broadcaster in-house production will be allowed ... including provincial educational broadcasters and CBC/Radio-Canada."

The emphasis of the new broadcast policy will be on drama, comedy, and children's programming, and will favour productions developed for distribution platforms other than prime-time television – the Internet and mobile telecommunications devices, said Moore, who admitted he watches "more television programs on my iPod than on regular TV."

The new fund will also support documentaries and variety and performing arts programming that can demonstrate that the market alone would not support their creation.

"The realigned fund will favour projects produced in high definition and those that have achieved and demonstrated the most potential to achieve success, in terms of audience and return on investment," Moore said.

What should be clarified is that the guaranteed envelopes for provincial educational broadcasters and CBC/Radio Canada have been removed to 'level the playing field' (although CBC, along with all other broadcasters, will be allowed to compete for in-house production cash that it was previously excluded from.)



In order to make this initiative work, reforms will be needed, based on four key principles:

- get governance and accountability right;

- reward success and require innovation;

- focus the investment on what Canadians want; and

- level the playing field.

Get governance and accountability right

A smaller fully independent board made up of nominees of the funders will be created. Broadcasters, producers, and creators will be consulted through a mechanism to be established by the board. A contribution agreement between the Government of Canada and the Canada Media Fund will set the terms and conditions for the Fund.

Reward success and require innovation

The realigned fund will favour projects produced in high definition and those that have achieved and demonstrated the most potential to achieve success, in terms of audience and return on investment. Applicants will be required to make their projects available across a minimum of two distribution platforms, including television. This initiative will also foster the development of cutting-edge applications and content to drive innovation back into the mainstream forms of content. Since building audience demand means investing in development, versioning, marketing, and promotion, the Fund will ensure that these activities occur.

Focus the investment on what Canadians want

The Canada Media Fund will put particular emphasis on drama, comedy, and children's programming. It will also support documentaries and variety and performing arts programming if a project can pass a test demonstrating that the market alone would not support its creation. Because Canadians also want programming on other distribution platforms, it will ensure that this programming is available not only on TV on prime time, but also on the Internet and mobile devices. By focusing on programming Canadians want, the Fund will ensure the best use of the creative sector by ensuring a strong Canadian presence through the predominant use of Canadian creative talent, including writers, directors, and performers. As Canadians want to interact and learn from each other, the Fund will also support Aboriginal and minority French-language productions, and respect the specificity of the French-language market. It will also support programs in third languages where demand and funding are present.

Level the playing field

The eligibility for funding for broadcaster-affiliated production will be expanded, and broadcaster in-house production will be allowed. This will be phased in gradually and over time to find the right mix. All broadcasters will be put on a level playing field, including provincial educational broadcasters and CBC/Radio-Canada, whose guaranteed envelope will be removed. Support will continue to be provided to productions from all regions of Canada.

You can read Moore's complete speech HERE at the Canada Heritage website.

Some other takes, like from

Moore referenced several reasons for the funding model change. They included a 2005 report from Auditor General Sheila Fraser that raised concerns about conflicts of interest within the CTF leadership, including the fact that some board members became funding recipients.

He also mentioned the CTF crisis, with cable companies calling for it to be dismantled. Shaw and Vidéotron, which withdrew their financial support of the CTF in December 2006, charged that too much of the financing was being allocated to public or educational broadcasters, and funded unpopular programming.

The creative community argued, however, that while the CTF's management structure needed review, the entity itself was necessary in order to protect the Canadian TV industry in the face of the overwhelming amount of programming from the U.S.

Shaw and Vidéotron resumed payment after former heritage minister Bev Oda ordered a CRTC taskforce to review the CTF. In June 2008, the federal broadcast regulator recommended splitting the CTF into two streams — one for private-sector broadcasters, the other for public-sector broadcasters.

In a related note, the CRTC is currently in the midst of hearings in Gatineau, Que., over new media regulation and funding.

So far, the creative community has largely called for the CRTC to step in to regulate the new media industry and enact a levy on internet service providers, with the funds to go towards supporting Canadian productions created for new media platforms such as the internet and mobile phones.

The ISPs, which began their appearances before the regulator on Monday, object to both regulation and a levy.

Established in 1996 to invest in creating English, French and aboriginal-language Canadian programming, the CTF finances a significant portion of the country's domestically produced TV shows. In 1998, the Canadian New Media Fund, a corresponding entity to support new media, was created.

Cable firms are required to submit about five per cent of their gross revenues to specifically fund the creation of Canadian programming, an agreement they made in return for permission to increase their cable rates in 1993. The fund subsequently set up in 1996 to distribute that money became the CTF.

It's important to note, as this article does, that funding for the CTF is the result of an agreement made by the cable firms in return for permission to raise their cable rates, and NOT simply (as reported in the Star article at the top of post) "...the source of taxpayer subsidies to the Canadian television production industry..."

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...with more to come apparently. At the conference, Moore also stated:

"The government needs to "get out of the old structures" in order to upgrade and modernize funding policies."

"Keep your eyes open for more."

If you're looking for analysis, keep on looking...I'm still digesting, though you know CBC's guaranteed envelope removal, access allowed to broadcasters for their own in-house production, and a board made up primarily of reps from the big cable companies will have a lot of people stomping their feet --- not to mention whether the merging of New Media and Television funds even makes sense? Does it streamline and smooth it all out? Or just muddy the waters all over again. For what its worth, I'm a big fan of the 'pick one' philosophy...and always will take one entity to deal with over two funds or two streams.

But I will say everyone I spoke to in the production community and provincial film agency circles this morning were all saying: "This is bad...bad....bad..."

Is it?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Froggy Friday Evening Fun

I'm pretty sure I've posted this before, but was in a meeting yesterday where two young industry pups just stared at me blankly when I referenced the classic 1955 Looney Tunes short 'One Froggy Evening'.

'blink blink'

You know, with the singing frog!

'blink' Singing frog? know, the one written by Michael Maltese and directed by Chuck Jones for Warner Brothers Merrie Melodies and often regarded as one of the best short films ever made?


In fact, there was a sequel made to this classic cartoon in 1995 that I wasn't even aware of HERE --- and like most sequels to films that don't need a sequel, it sucks!

And now Denis McGrath takes this post and runs with it over at HIS PLACE...funny stuff.

Nevertheless, because it makes me smile, watch the original.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Love In An Elevator

Pitching is so hard...part audition, part performance art, part product description, and part sales job. You have to take that gem of an idea you're trying to sell, work out all the details...then take those details and distill them down to a coherent, concise, entertaining, interesting, and intriguing presentation.

Oh, and it should be fast --- think the length of an elevator ride. Some people call this the 'quick and dirty version', but most know this as 'the elevator pitch' (as in that's all the time you usually have to convey it to a network or studio or company exec) - a quick dynamic engaging verbal description of your show.

Easy to talk about, really really hard to do well. But practice definitely makes it easier, and your story or idea will always become better as you try it out on more and more people. And I'm a big believer in 'learning by doing'. Yes you can be taught the key elements to highlight, like your hook and your angle and why you want to tell this story, but only when the words come spilling out of your mouth and you have people reacting to it will you really know if it's actually connecting or not.

I wish I could find a decent 'how to pitch' video link, but I've come up empty. However, there's this link to how not to pitch:

Sometimes hearing what not to do can be as effective as being told what to do.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Sweet Touch Of Your Love?

This recent Axe commercial completely befuddles me...I mean, who is it targeting as buyers - men who want to be an irresistible 'chocolate man'? Or women who want their men to smell good enough to eat (begging the question...does the body spray actually smell like chocolate?)?

Not to mention the creepy smile, the tearing off of his nose, digging a strawberry into his belly, taking a bite out of his butt, losing his arm?!, and putting his wiggling fingers inside of a box as a present??!!!

Even the song lyrics have an ominous undertone:

When a cold chill begins to burn at your very soul
That's the sweet touch of Love.
When just the drop of a name begins to sting your very toe
That's the sweet touch of Love
Just the thought about seeing you would blow my mind
That's the sweet touch of Love"

Personally I find it all very disturbing.