Canwest's blog

Thirteen courageous families engage in their own unique battle of the bulge when an all-new fifth season of the Gemini award-winning documentary series X-Weighted returns to Slice™ with a second installment of X-Weighted: Families. The one-hour 13-part series, which was filmed in Calgary, Kelowna and Vancouver, premieres Thursday, October 14 at 8pm ET. 

X-Weighted: Families brings dramatic family dynamics and life’s realities to the forefront,shedding light on the truth and consequences of the growing obesity epidemic. It is the parents who become scared straight at the horrifying health of their children and soon realize that this may be their last chance to finally conquer their daily struggle with overeating and life threatening nutrition choices. 

Family members share honest, gut wrenching confessions about their learned behavior with physical and emotional challenges, their addictions to junk food, and their quest to live a life free of pain and suffering. In the most gripping season to-date, X-Weighted: Families takes viewers behind-the-scenes and into the homes of Canadian families and exposes critical issues contributing to their expanding waistlines, such as: 

• An overweight teen who is driven to thoughts of suicide because of relentless bullying. 

• A young girl who suffers from severe anxiety self medicates with food causing her weight to spiral out of control. 

• A shocking addiction to junk food has one family spending nearly $1000 a month at the convenience store alone. 

• After the death of her father, a 16 year-old girl turns to food to cope with her grief…butonly becomes more depressed as her weight climbs to new heights. 

• Routine blood work reveals frighteningly high cholesterol…in a 14 year old. 

“Last season X-Weighted turned its focus from individual weight loss in adults to the issue of childhood obesity, following families in their heartbreaking struggle to overcome unhealthy lifestyles,” said Vanessa Case, Vice President, Content, Slice™, Canwest Broadcasting. “X-Weighted: Families is back for an inspiring second season, continuing to shed light on the astonishing epidemic sweeping the country.” 

“This season speaks volumes of just how out of control our obesity epidemic has become in Canada. Our families reveal how economic, cultural and life changing circumstances can deteriorate the bond of the family and result in despair and hopelessness,” said Margaret Mardirossian, Executive Producer and President, Anaid Productions. “There is, however, much hope in reversing this disease as demonstrated by members of these extraordinary families sharing their transformations with the world.” 

X-Weighted: Families’ fitness expert and one of Canada’s most recognized personal trainers,Paul Plakas returns again this season with his trademark no-nonsense and cut-through-the-BS observations. He takes each family through the appalling Cupboard Purge where they say goodbye to a milieu of comfort foods and sugar-laden treats. Dr. David Macklin, one of Canada’s leading physicians in the field of Lifestyle Medicine, shares his medical expertise with the families, dispensing advice on appropriate weight loss goals, healthy nutritional choices and at times dispensing stern warnings as a result of ghastly blood tests that reveal a host of obesity related ailments including high cholesterol, high uric acid levels and type 2 diabetes. More frightening than the results themselves is the fact that these symptoms, commonly thought of as “adult” issues, are often surfacing in the children.

Canwest Broadcasting announced today the start of production for Canadian Pickers, a new Canadian original series that follows ‘pickers’ Sheldon Smithens and Scott Cozens as they search Canadian back roads, basements, sheds and barns for unlikely gems and forgotten national treasures.

Based on the format of the massively popular series, American Pickers, Canadian Pickers (13x60mins) is slated to premiere in Spring 2011 on History Television.

Canadian Pickers follows two highly-skilled pickers – Sheldon Smithens, an antiques dealer, auctioneer and appraiser by trade, and his partner Scott Cozens, an ex-pro hockey player, part-time lawyer and life-long picker – as they rummage through old barns, messy yards and abandoned attics in search of objects with historical, collectible and pop culture value.

Sheldon and Scott scour towns across Canada in search of ‘rusty gold’ – an assortment of wonderful objects that many people think is just useless junk. Each pick explores the history and stories behind these objects – from a hand-painted Depression-era circus poster and a massive butcher block table in Ontario, to vintage Charlottetown theatre seats – and introduces a variety of captivating people from all across Canada with fascinating stories to share.

“Our vast country is ripe for the picking and it’s a thrill to embark on the coast-to-coast production of Canadian Pickers,” said Christine Shipton, SVP Dramatic and Factual Content, Canwest Broadcasting. “Canadian Pickers weaves together the fascinating history, culture and stories of everyday Canadians from Halifax to Kitchener to Calgary, and truly celebrates the spirit of our great country. History Television viewers can look forward to a fun and entertaining look at Canadian history, one pick at a time.”

The production of Canadian Pickers comes hot on the heels of the recent audience success of American Pickers, currently the #2 series on History Television this Fall. Canadian Pickers is produced by Cineflix in association with Canwest Broadcasting.

Production on the one-hour conspiracy thriller drama, XIII commenced September 13 in Toronto and surrounding areas. Stuart Townsend (The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Queen of the Damned) headlines the series as XIII, a skilled and lethal former secret agent who can’t remember his past and sets out on a quest to uncover his true identity. The 13 episode Canada-France original series is set to premiere on Showcase in Spring 2011.

Hunted by a dark anti-government organization, XIII quickly realizes that the closer he gets to uncovering the riddle of his past life, the more complex and deadly his mission becomes. Alongside Townsend, XIII stars Aisha Tyler (24, CSI, Friends) as Jones, a top CIA operator and XIII’s past flame, Virginie Ledoyen (The Beach) as Irina, a mercenary hired by the former U.S. President to track XIII,  and Caterina Murino (Casino Royale) as Sam, XIII’s trustworthy ally and love interest.

Other key cast members include Greg Bryk (Saw V, Cra$h & Burn) as Amos, a national security officer, Stephen McHattie (Happy Town, 2012) as President Carrington and Ted Atherton (The Border) as Wally Sheridan, the former U.S. President and a possible traitor.

“The suspenseful drama series XIII will captivate audiences with its dynamic characters and intriguing storylines,” said Christine Shipton, SVP, Dramatic and Factual Content, Canwest Broadcasting. “XIII promises to deliver on the elements viewers expect from a top-notch action series.” 

XIII is developed and produced by Prodigy Pictures and French production company Cipango, the television division of Luc Besson’s Europacorp (La Femme Nikita). In addition to airing in Canada on Showcase, the series will air on Canal Plus in France as part of their international original programming.

The creative forces behind XIII include Prodigy Pictures’ Jay Firestone, Executive Producer, along with Cipango’s Edouard De Vésinne and Thomas Anargyros. Frederic Bruneel will co-produce the series. Gil Grant (NCIS: Los Angeles, 24) wrote the pilot and is the series’ Showrunner and also an Executive Producer. Peter Mohan (Lost Girl, The Bridge) will act as Co-Executive Producer for the series along with Damien Couvreur. Duane Clark (CSI: NY, XIII: The Conspiracy) will also be a Co-Executive Producer and direct three of the 13 episodes. Other directors include Xavier Palud and Philippe Haim. Wanda Chaffey serves as Producer on the series.

XIII is based on Jean Van Hamme’s popular graphic novel of the same name, which has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide since the first volume was published 25 years ago.

Thunderbird Films today announced start of production for Endgame, an original drama series centring on a brilliant chess master. Endgame is slated to premiere in Canada on Canwest Broadcasting’s specialty channel, Showcase in spring 2011, and will be distributed globally outside of North America by Endemol Group.

Starring Shawn Doyle (Big Love, Medium) and Torrance Coombs (The Tudors, JPod), Endgame revolves around Russian World Champion chess master Arkady Balagan (Doyle), who uses his extraordinary skills of perception and strategic thinking to solve crimes that have stumped others.

Endgame series regulars include Patrick Gallagher (Glee, True Blood), Kate Isabelle (The Good Wife, Sanctuary), Carmen Aguerre (Tin Man, Da Vinci’s Inquest) and Melanie Papilia (The Assistants, Intelligence).

Traumatized by the murder of his fiancée, Balagan has made himself a virtual prisoner in his luxury Vancouver hotel, terrified to step outside the door. To pay the bills, he begins to solve crimes and help people with problems they cannot bring to the police.

Viewers are invited inside Balagan’s mind to witness his incredible imagination, which allows him to visualize crime scenes, work through various permutations of events, communicate hypothetically with the living and the dead, and anticipate his unknown adversaries’ next move – all without leaving his hotel. Balagan seems poised to solve every case put before him – except his own.

Endgame is the brain child of Creator and Showrunner Avrum Jacobson (ReGenesis, Republic of Doyle) and will be helmed by Director/Producer David Frazee (Flashpoint, Da Vinci’s Inquest). Executive Producers on the series include Michael Shepard (Zigby, Mayerthorpe), Tim Gamble (Zixx: Level Three, In Her Mother’s Footsteps) and Harvey Kahn (Beyond Sherwood Forest, The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon).

Filmed on location in Vancouver, BC, Endgame is developed and produced by Thunderbird Films in association with Front Street Pictures.

Back with more tears, tension and tantrums, the brand new second season of Canadian original series, Re-Vamped features eight different women, all jilted by their partners, as they undertake the transformation of a lifetime and try to get their sexy back.

Victims of bad relationships, broken hearts and bruised self-esteem, these women are looking for a taste of sweet revenge against the men who betrayed them, when they perform a sizzling burlesque number in front of their exes.

But when curtain calls, will the exes dare make an appearance? Re-Vamped II premieres Monday, October 11 at 10pm ET/7pm PT on SliceTM.

This season, Re-Vamped II is joined by a brand new host, Andrea Bain (Three Takes, Exchanging Vows) who leads the women on their powerful journeys. Recurring appearances by a relationship and sexuality expert, Dr. Robin Milhausen help guide the deep psychological aspect of the transformation process. Master trainer and health care practitioner, Roland Semprie, is back to whip the ladies into shape with a combination of an intense physical regime and rigorous diet, while professional choreographer and expert in the art of burlesque dance, Kaitlyn Regehr returns to help them reclaim their sexuality.

“Re-Vamped II takes viewers on a compelling journey of emotional and physical transformation,” said Vanessa Case, Vice President, Content, SliceTM. “Seeing these women at one of the lowest points in their lives striving to regain their confidence and sense of self worth will have viewers championing for them throughout all 10 episodes – and cursing those who betrayed them.”

Lies, betrayal, infidelity, heartache, abuse: they’ve endured the unthinkable and now it’s time to take a stand.  With the help of Re-Vamped’s compassionate team of experts on health, fitness, self-esteem, sexuality and relationships, for the next six weeks these women will be challenged to confront their haunting past and learn to hold their heads high once again.

Meet the eight new Canadian women of Re-Vamped II:

Amber – 33, Medicine Hat, AB

Angella – 35, Hamilton, ON

Carol – 45, Peachland, BC

Charlene – 33, Kearney, ON

Jennifer – 21, Calgary, AB

Pooneh – 38, Toronto, ON

Monique – 26, Mississauga, ON

Sheila – 36, Kitchener, ON

 

Re-Vamped II fans can participate in live blogging events throughout the season at http://liveblogs.slice.ca/, joined by host Andrea Bain and experts Roland Semprie and Kaitlyn Regehr during the premiere episode on Monday, October 11 at 10pm ET/7pm PT on SliceTM.  Full episodes and web exclusives will be available at www.slice.ca.

Ever dreamed of owning and operating your own restaurant? Craving the satisfaction of opening night, the cachet of being the talk of the food world?

Dreams aside, opening a restaurant is full of highs and lows that often demand the smart advice and blunt criticism of an expert who knows the ins and outs of the business.

On the heels of the successful launch of the brand new Canadian original series, The Opener (Tuesday nights at 9 p.m.ET/10 p.m. PT), Food Network Canada announced today, the launch of its very first online game.

The new free interactive online game mirrors the premise of the show, opening a new restaurant with the help of host and celebrity restaurant consultant David Adjey.

In the action-packed game, users will ready a new restaurant for its grand opening with help and frequent performance feedback from David Adjey. Beginning the game with a waiter, a cook and a modest number of tables, it is the user’s job to manage the restaurant to success. Challenges include ushering waiters to keep their guests satisfied, keeping the cook on pace, and managing inventory wisely. With success comes rewards such as: more tables, top of the line equipment to speed up preparation of meals, staff training to boost their performance, new menu possibilities and ingredients, a busboy to clean tables, an espresso machine, and new décor items that attract new patrons.

“As an extra layer of our overall marketing campaign for The Opener, the online game is a fun and interactive promotional tool that allows us to further engage viewers in a way we’ve never done before,” says Solange Bernard, Director of Marketing Strategy, Lifestyle Channels, Canwest Broadcasting. “The premise of the game matches that of the series, reinforcing the fast pace and high stress of getting a restaurant up and running, all within an entertaining and interactive format.”

Food Network is spreading the word about its brand new online game through on air promotions during The Opener, a link to the game on the Food Network page on Facebook, as well as a three-week ad buy on Facebook and YouTube.

The online game was developed by Launchfire, an interactive promotions company specializing in contests and sweepstakes, advergames, user-generated content and viral marketing. 

To access the new online game, visit www.foodnetwork.ca/theopener. 

Canwest Broadcasting announced today the launch of a newly branded, wholly owned digital specialty channel: Twist TV. Set to begin November 1, Twist TV will be available in over 2 million homes nationwide.

Twist TV is all about real life with a twist; capturing the experiences of everyday people facing extraordinary situations.  The channel’s diverse cast of characters and their colourful stories – from unique personal challenges, to difficult family issues, to unusual medical circumstances – are always relatable and often outrageous.  With a lineup of programming that includes tales of out of control kids, pageant moms and life changing health situations, Twist TV will deliver on the channel’s memorable tagline: “Life throws curves”. 

Catering to adults 25-54, with a female skew, the channel will offer exclusive access to a variety of entertaining, reliable and practical show titles including:  Raising Sextuplets, Dad Camp, Little Miss Perfect  and 8 Boys and Wanting a Girl as well as the latest seasons of international hit series Nanny 911 and Wife Swap.

“Canwest’s lifestyle channels are the most popular in Canada. Food Network and HGTV are the top two favourite channels for Canadian women and we are confident that Twist TV will quickly become another audience favourite,” said Karen Gelbart, Senior Vice President, Lifestyle Content, Canwest Broadcasting. “We look forward to introducing this new brand and exciting programming mix to viewers in November.”       

A glimpse at a few exclusive series confirmed for launch includes:

Dad Camp (Canadian Broadcast Premiere)

Dad Camp features six irresponsible fathers-to-be and their pregnant girlfriends working together to prepare for their future as parents.

Raising Sextuplets (Canadian Broadcast Premiere)

After a three-year struggle to conceive, Jenny and Bryan Masche find their wishes have multiplied when the news that they’re expecting six babies rocks their world. Raising Sextuplets follows them as their lives expand by six.

8 Boys and Wanting a Girl (Canadian Broadcast Premiere)

This documentary features forty three year old Wendy Bowen who has eight boys and is desperate for her dream girl and her ticking biological clock has turned it into an obsession.

Little Miss Perfect (Canadian Broadcast Premiere)

Little Miss contests are a storm of hope and anxiety, of dreams and despair, as young families buy thousand dollar dresses and dentures for children barely out of diapers.

 

The launch of Twist TV follows Canwest subsidiary CW Media’s purchase in 2009 of the shares of Discovery Health Channel Canada previously held by Discovery Communications Inc.

On November 1, 2010, Twist TV will become available in over 2 million homes through Rogers (as part of their digital VIP package), Shaw, Cogeco, Bell TV, Shaw Direct and Videotron amongst other carriers.

Showcase.ca joins forces with Bedlam Games and Prodigy Pictures to develop the ultimate fan site for the upcoming supernatural series Lost Girl.

In addition to exclusive video content, downloads, episode guide, games and fan forums, the website is anchored by the dynamic Lost Girl: The Interactive Motion Comic.

A first for showcase.ca, the premiere installment of the Lost Girl Interactive Motion Comic launched this week at showcase.ca/lostgirl.

Featuring gripping storylines and impressive animation, Lost Girl: The Interactive Motion Comic is a perfect complement to the television series, extending the Lost Girl world into the digital universe. The site puts the fan in the director’s chair, allowing them to choose their own adventure. The six installments of the comic are a prequel to the series.

Users are introduced to the heroine of Lost Girl, a succubus named Bo, and, in the first installment, are taken through a day-in-her-life where the fan gets to decide the outcomes of Bo’s dark impulses, among other situations featuring secondary characters. With six installments at roughly four minutes in length, this is the first online interactive motion comic created for a Showcase series.

“Bedlam Ink and Prodigy Pictures have done an outstanding job creating a website that complements the creativity and originality of the series,” said Chris Harris, Director, Online Content, Canwest Broadcasting. “The Lost Girl website marks a significant milestone for showcase.ca as we continue to push the boundaries to develop first-rate online extensions of our hit series.”

“We’ve worked tirelessly with Prodigy Pictures and showcase.ca to develop a site that will remain top of mind for Lost Girl fans and have created an addictive interactive component that will have users returning to each installment just as they would tune into Showcase to watch the series,” said Trevor Fencott, CEO, Bedlam Ink. Jay Firestone, Executive Producer, Prodigy Pictures adds, “it’s thrilling to see our initial vision of a Lost Girl motion comic finally being brought to life. The final product is dynamic, engaging and truly exceeds our expectations.”

The website acts to broaden the scope of the Lost Girl underworld, giving users an all-access pass to additional narrative and behind-the-scenes content. In addition to the interactive motion comic, Lost Girl cast biographies and character back-stories are available, and full episodes of the series will be available after broadcast. The site is also home to the online Lost Girl fan community where viewers can discuss favourite moments from the show.

The website was developed to complement the hotly anticipated debut of Lost Girl, produced by Prodigy Pictures. The television series premieres Sunday, September 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on Showcase. 

Beginning today, Showcase rolls out a national consumer advertising campaign to reinforce the channel’s position as Canada’s prime specialty television destination for dramatic entertainment. On and off-air elements of the campaign build awareness and drive tune in to the channel’s Fall schedule jam-packed with the best exclusive cable programs and top-notch Canadian original series. 

Showcase’s robust multi-media campaign underscores the channel’s unstoppable Fall roster of bold hit programming and sets out to turn consumers on to three outstanding shows – Showcase’s debut of the smash-hit series Burn Notice, the hotly-anticipated Canadian original series Lost Girl and the much buzzed-about return of Weeds. With a line-up of series boasting remarkable production values, Showcase is promoting the three by simulating a campaign for a theatrical release. 

The multi phase campaign targets adults 25-54 primarily in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. To build momentum and anticipation for the launch of Showcase’s Fall roster, the campaign launched in July with on-air teasers across Canwest channels, leading into one of the most exhaustive out of home campaigns for the channel. Starting today, the off air, four week component of the campaign reaches current viewers and encourages new viewers to sample the programming with a strategic media buy that includes on-air, out of home, radio, print, IPG and online advertising.

“The Showcase Fall slate is home to some of the most sensational dramas on television. With that in mind, we set out to create a visually arresting consumer campaign that celebrates the theatrical nature of these series and shines a spotlight on the star-power associated with them,” says Sherida German, Director, Marketing Strategy, Canwest Dramatic Channels. “We have created a campaign that without a doubt accomplishes our goal.” 

Consumers are set to be blown away by the striking and intrusive creative that complements the big, bold programmes on the schedule. Commuters won’t be able to miss the dramatic billboards and transit portion of the campaign, with GO train exteriors getting wrapped with creative for Burn Notice. Showcase also becomes the first advertiser to utilize the brand new external Subway posters. Eight cars featuring eye-catching 26×36 posters are running throughout the GTA. In addition to exterior subway advertisements, creative for all three properties is part of a Canwest domination buy at St. George and Union stations. 

A theatrical advertising campaign would not be complete without a trailer. To accomplish this, Showcase is treating moviegoers to a striking 60 second in cinema spot for Burn Notice and Lost Girl, running as the last trailer before the start of the film. To further encourage sampling of the shows, these spots can also be viewed on line across some of North America’s largest portals and most popular entertainment sites as part of an extensive on line buy.

All three shows are receiving on-air and print support, while promotion for two of the series extends to radio. The on-air elements of the campaign include multiple spots airing across Canwest specialty channels, Global and IPG.

The summer has been hotter than ever for Canwest’s specialty portfolio as the channels experience exceptional growth over last year. To-date, Canwest has seen an impressive combined growth of 23% versus last summer.

The viewership increases can be seen across Canwest’s broad spectrum of specialty channels including staggering growth on the following channels*.

HGTV +45%

MovieTime +78%

TVtropolis +33%

BBC Canada +46%

SLICE™ +31%

National Geographic +37%

History Television +22%

 

Twelve of Canwest’s specialty channels are also enjoying their most successful Summers to-date. The list includes, Food Network, History Television, HGTV, SLICE™, TVtropolis, Action, Showcase Diva, National Geographic Channel, BBC Canada, DejaView, IFC and MovieTime.

“Canwest’s remarkable growth this Summer on the specialty channels is a direct result of our unwavering commitment to providing engaging and thrilling content throughout the entire broadcast year combined with the strength of our brands,” says Barbara Williams, Executive Vice President, Content, Canwest Broadcasting.” “We look forward to continuing this momentum as we head into one of the most exciting and jam-packed Fall seasons yet for our specialty brands.”

The growth is destined to continue into Fall with a slew of brand-new exclusive series premiering across the channels. Some highlights include American Pickers and William Shatner’s Weird or What on History Television, as well as Lost Girl and Burn Notice, airing on Showcase. Viewers can catch Top Chef DC and The Opener on Food, while HGTV is set to launch Selling New York and Home to Keep.