Woody's blog

Digital television channel The Pet Network announces a new fall programming schedule that punctuates the universal appeal and popularity of wholesome television entertainment, starring pets and animals.


Head of Programming Rosemary Fusca believes that The Pet Network possesses a unique commonality, “Pets are universal, and they cross every demographic gender and age line.  Whether you bring puppies into a kindergarten class or a nursing home, you’ll see faces light up across the room.  In fact, the majority of Canadian households own pets; according to BBM, 68% of 25-54 year olds have one.  That doesn’t even take into account the number of people that don’t own pets, but are still fascinated by animals.” 


Documentaries, movies, reality shows, Canadian and foreign dramas and cartoons fill The Pet Network’s schedule, an eclectic offering that is unique within itself.  The channel’s flagship show Pet Central returns with host Candice Batista traversing the landscape of animal – human coexistence in search of quirky characters, extraordinary stories, useful gadgets and pertinent lifestyle information.  Canine expert Dr. Stanley Coren also contributes a segment, explaining dog behaviour and ways to tweak it.  


Natural Companions teaches viewers about treating their animal companions on a physical level, with holistic and naturopathic preventative care and treatment. Australia’s most famous veterinarian, Dr. Harry Cooper, continues his charming trek across the Land Down Under on Harry’s Practice.  The BBC’s smash hit reality series Vets in Practice takes a more intense approach to treating animals, combining medical crisis with the emotional toll it takes upon the doctors. 


New shows include Mickey – Everyone’s Best Friend featuring Mickey the collie, his human friend Megan, and a talking ferret and goat.  Childlike Mickey learns lessons like “why leaves change colour”; it’s captivating educational fun for the pre-school set.  In fact, Mickey headlines an entire block of programming under the Family Fun Lineup moniker.  Other “all ages appeal” offerings include two unique and exclusive new series from award winning producer/director Tom McPhee: Rock & Roll Dogs takes a comedic “up close and personal look” at specific homeless shelter dogs along with their peculiar personality traits, and Jane Garrison’s Rescue Diaries documents dramatic animal rescues, while profiling the selfless, courageous people who perform them.


Pet Connection is a lifestyle series with acclaimed Ottawa veterinarian Bernie Pukay answering questions like “Why does my puppy bite?”  Its East Coast counterpart is Island Vets; cameras follow the inner workings of a PEI clinic, where cases shown are generally life and death.  Bondi Vet features a completely different take on treating animals.  Dr. Chris Brown is a hunky surfer-type, whose affluent clientele come to him for pet facelifts and Prozac for their parrots.


The Horse is a documentary series that showcases horses from 4000 BC farms to modern day racetracks.  Another season of Pet Docs also premieres with a new selection of compelling and informative exposés from award-winning documentarians around the world.


The new season begins Monday, September 21st.  The Pet Network is available by subscription through television providers.  The channel is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications.



For further information contact:  Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming,  (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

Canada’s Dance Television Channel, bpm:tv continues to expand boundaries with their 2009-2010 program schedule.  The network’s fall launch on September 7th will feature two of the channel’s perennial favourites returning with new looks, and a new show featuring indie artists will televise dance videos rarely ever seen on television.


bpm:tv producers are creating new format features for their hit countdown show, Hot 20 Dance Chart.  Head of Programming Rosemary Fusca says, “Since bpm:tv’s launch in 2001, Hot 20 Dance Chart has been a regular feature and audience favourite on our prime time schedule.  We continually freshen up the look of the show, as well as the style and delivery.  Our viewers are a very dynamic demographic with trendsetting tastes in their TV program choices; we have to consistently make the show new and exciting to keep them coming back night after night.  Trendsetting has been one of the network’s common denominators each season.  We’ve been the first in Canada to interview artists like Lady Gaga or to premiere Grammy winning dance videos like ‘Days Go By’ by Dirty Vegas.”   


Another bpm:tv production receiving a facelift, or at least a shot of Botox is Back @ Ya!  The  one-hour interactive all-request video show, produced at bpm:tv studios, features professional dancer Jorie Brown reading viewer requests, including dedications, sent via email or through the bpm:tv website.  This year, the show’s been fitted with a redesigned set in preparation for another new season of requests for the music industry’s latest hot dance video releases.  


As far as dance music videos go, they don’t come any fresher than those seen on the new program “The Underground”.  The show’s producers mull through hundreds of video submissions from artists, talent management and indie music labels to present the “cream of the independent dance music crop”.  “The Underground” is meant to provide up-and-coming Canadian and international artists with visibility on national television, and at the same time present the bpm:tv audience with the finest new dance music, not yet discovered by the masses.


Other new premieres include episodes of bpm Spotlight and bpm:tv Presents.  Spotlight features interviews, bios and performances by some of the dance industry’s biggest stars, including performers, producers, choreographers and DJ’s.  Presents visits concerts, festivals, nightclubs and events, including Toronto Pride, Bal en Blanc, Summer Rush (Toronto and Halifax), and BBCM’s Black and Blue.


For an entirely cultural and even educational experience, viewers can tune into Dance Files, where each episode profiles a particular style of dance, whether it be Flamenco, African, Irish, Bollywood or Bellydance.  This season, Dance Files explores another eclectic roster of international and multi-genre dance styles and customs from around the world.


Network favourite Electronica will also return with host Miss Raquel, and Friday Nite and Saturday Nite Dance Party are back with fresh episodes and new videos.  These two hour continuous dance music video shows bring the nightclub experience into viewers’ homes, for high energy dance party events every weekend.


bpm:tv, “The Most Powerful Dance Channel on the Planet”, is available from Canadian television service providers; the network is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications.



For more information, contact:  Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

Canadian television network ichannel launches its ninth season on Monday, September 21st, including new programs that address the “good and bad news” of our ecology, as well as several star-empowered charities and their “A” List supporters. 


New in-house production “Celebrity Soapbox” provides a forum for Hollywood stars, recording artists and the like to elaborate upon causes for which they are both well informed and dedicated.  Early scheduled guests include Ted Danson, Chantal Kreviazuk, Wyclef Jean and Indigo Girls.


Ted Danson’s concerns lie with saving oceans, so the former Cheers star’s Celebrity Soapbox episode fits right in with another prominent topic on ichannel’s 2009-2010 program roster:  our embattled environment.  A new ichannel in-house production, slated for premiere in January 2010, is Green Diaries.  The program features Candice Batista, host of “Pet Central” on The Pet Network and known for her work as a veteran environmental reporter; Batista travels across Canada assessing regional planet preservation efforts, with appropriate congratulatory or reproachful evaluations.  Green Diaries will be followed by the Robert Redford hosted Global Focus, profiling initiators of ecological directives across our planet. 


The “idoc” documentary series returns with themes that include a brothel-eye-view of larger-than-life working girl Xavier Hollander in Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary, the self-explanatory title We Love Cigarettes, the heart-wrenching Breast Cancer Diaries, a portrait of gender-based genocide called India’s Missing Girls, an eye-opening profile of Nigeria’s religion-infused legal system Inside a Shari’ah Court, along with several short series including the works of award-winning documentarian Louis Theroux, and the nail-biting real event dramatization series Special Forces Heroes.  Undoubtedly the most notable milestone for ichannel this season is the introduction of the network’s first self-produced feature documentary; Milk War follows impassioned Durham, Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt’s battle to legalize the sale of unpasteurized milk.      


ichannel’s flagship debate and discussion forum @issue is back to challenge and explore headlines through the assertions and insights of opinionated authoritative guests; this season promises to be the most explosively controversial series of programs in the franchise’s history.    The Film is back this Fall season, with new award winning films and major marquee stars.   Another star-packed entry into the ichannel lineup is St. Elsewhere; the Emmy and Peabody award-winning drama features the early work of Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon, Howie Mandel, Bruce Greenwood, Alfre Woodard, Helen Hunt, and Ed Begley, Jr.  Other favourites like MSI, Helen Help Us! and Drug Class return with new episodes. 


For a complete listing and schedule of ichannel’s fall shows, visit www.ichannel.ca.

ichannel Intelligent Television is available by subscription through local cable and satellite television providers across Canada.  The digital cable network is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications.    

For further information, contact:  Rosemary Fusca, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

Toronto – May 20, 2009 Along with a thriving career that has garnered two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and decades of longevity, Ted Danson feels equally passionate about his other life’s work:  saving the world’s oceans.  The star discusses his commitment to this cause on the new exclusive ichannel series Celebrity Soapbox.  The program profiles famous people and the charitable or social causes they adopt, support and represent. 


Danson says that one of the catalysts of his oceanic interest was an epiphanic moment when he had to explain to his daughter why she couldn’t swim at the beach.  The water was deemed unsafe, because of pollution.


He helped found the American Oceans Campaign in 1987, originally established to challenge offshore drilling in coastal California.  In 2002, American Oceans Campaign merged with Oceana, the largest conservation organization in the world.  Danson sits on the board of directors of Oceana, often serving as spokesperson.  In 2007, he addressed the World Trade Organization in Geneva concerning the issues of subsidizing and over-fishing.


One key factor identified by Oceana that precipitates over-fishing is governmental subsidies for the industry.  These subsidies enable large commercial fisheries to afford bigger boats and fleets that trawl giant expanses of the ocean floor, causing considerable damage to the ecosystem. 


Another concern is “bi-catching”, which refers to the practice of catching species of fish, other than those the fishermen intended to net.  Generally, these fish, sea turtles and various undersea life are disposed of.  According to Danson, ten to thirty percent of each catch is discarded, which is taking its toll on fish populations.  He uses the catchphrase, “Count it. Catch it. Control it,” meaning that entire catches should be counted against fishermen’s quotas, regardless of species.  


Quoting U.N. figures, he says one-third of the earth’s fisheries have already collapsed, with “seventy five percent of fisheries either fully over-fished or right at the brink”.  He indicates that “according to science coming out of Canada”, in fifty…sixty…seventy years we will fish out our oceans. 


Overall, Danson gives Canada kudos on its subsidy and commercial fishing policies.  However, he encourages citizens to engage the government and close loopholes that allow too much freedom to the global fishing industry, “This is not about ‘don’t catch fish’.  This is about making sure we take care of that resource, so it’ll be there for everybody.”


The world premiere of Celebrity Soapbox is on Monday, June 8th, at 9:00pm ET.  ichannel Intelligent Television is available by subscription through local cable and satellite television providers across Canada.  The digital cable network is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications.



For more information, contact:

Kevin O’Keefe, Celebrity Soapbox Producer, (416) 756-5505, kokeefe@ichannel.ca 

Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

   Author, poet, television producer, journalist, columnist and intellectual activist are titles that could describe George Jonas’ prolific body of work.  Digital television network ichannel puts Jonas in front of a camera to personally describe his remarkable life and career “In His Own Words”.


From his childhood in Hungary, his immigration to Canada, to his long and productive award-winning career, the documentary follows Jonas’ personal narrative with authentically descriptive photos and footage.  His monologue is peppered with engaging anecdotes and witty philosophical repartee.


For example, on his early years, “One of the advantages that I had was not having much of a formal education.  I had the opportunity to look into things for myself.”


His perspective on writing, “Unless writing is its own reward for you, you shouldn’t bother.  Writing is no fun, but I enjoy having written.”


On the holocaust, “It is the human race that is genocidal, not the Germans.  In one vital sense, we are all Jews, and we are all Germans, potentially.”


The assessment he gives of the Middle East, “I don’t foresee a solution to the Middle East problem, because I don’t believe the Jews will give up the idea of having a state of their own, and I don’t believe the Arabs and Muslims will acquiesce in the idea of having the state in the Middle East.”


Jonas was working for Radio Budapest when the Hungarian Revolution began in 1956.  He joined thousands of other Hungarian refugees on their exodus to Austria, where he admits that he approached Canadian Immigration because there was no one waiting in line, as opposed to the American Consulate where people were lined up for ten blocks. 


Upon moving to Canada, he had to learn English very quickly before getting a job at the CBC as a script editor, and eventually a producer.  Since then, he has written 15 books, including bestsellers.  He may be best known for writing, producing and/or directing over 200 dramas and documentaries for the CBC, including the Gemini Award winning “The Scales of Justice”.  His book “Vengeance” was adapted to the big screen as “Sword of Gideon” and later by Steven Spielberg for the film “Munich”.  Summing up his life and career, Jonas says, “I wanted to be a writer, pure and simple.”


“George Jonas: In His Own Words” airs Saturday, May 23rd at 8pm and 11pm ET and PT.  ichannel is available by subscription through local television providers across Canada; the network is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications.


For more information, contact: 

Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

In May, digital television network ichannel presents a series of documentaries, analyzing various facets of Canadian military and diplomatic culture.  These encore presentations expose challenges, accomplishments and consequences faced by Canada, particularly on the post-911 international stage. 

The programs are installments of the original Stornoway Productions series Underground Royal Commission Investigates, and they profile many complex issues being faced by the nation on several different platforms.   Beginning on Tuesday, May 12th at 9:00pm ET, ichannel re-broadcasts “The Ambassador:  An American in Canada”.  Host Mercedes Stephenson explores U.S. – Canadian relations in depth, including an exclusive one-on-one interview with former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins.   

Wednesday, May 13th at 9:00pm, “Afghanistan, Journey Through a Broken Country” is revisited.  Associated Press journalist and author of the book “I Is For Infidel”, Kathy Gannon, examines the tumultuous history and the present-day calamity of a country that represents a “tinderbox” in Central Asia.  Questions addressed include reasons that the West is at war in the region, what social and financial aftermaths may prescribe, and whether the conflict against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban can truly be won.

The following evening, May 14th in the same timeslot, the focus shifts to observations by front-line military personnel in Afghanistan on “The Day Peacekeeping Died”.  The documentary is a forum for the soldiers who experience first-hand the status and potential far-reaching consequences of NATO’s ‘peacekeeping’ campaign on the social, economic and infrastructural future of the region.

“For Queen and Country” profiles the British “University Officer Training Corp”, a program that provides military and leadership training for students still in university.  Each year, hundreds of students learn military philosophies, procedures and values, in campus clubs that encourage comradery, discipline and accountability.  An esteemed Canadian doctor travels to the U.K. to discover and determine whether the program would benefit Canadian students.  The special presentation will be televised on Friday, May 15th, at 9:00pm ET.

The follow-up at 10:00pm, “No Country for Young Men”, investigates the profound benefits of the now abolished Canadian Officers Training Corp on several esteemed graduates.  These individuals, who are now leaders of industry, politics and society, discuss the program’s potential importance and relevance today.  The COTC was abolished in 1968.    

ichannel Intelligent Television is available by subscription through local cable and satellite television providers across Canada.  The digital cable network is owned and operated by Stornoway Communications.

For more information, contact: 

Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

Canada’s Dance Channel, bpm:tv, Is Free in April!


Toronto – April 3, 2009 For television viewers who do not currently subscribe to bpm:tv, Canada’s First and Only Dance Channel, April gives them an   opportunity to see the programming they’ve been missing.  The network will be free for all viewers, including non-subscribers, on every cable or satellite system that currently carries the channel. 


Head of Programming Rosemary Fusca is confident that the free preview will create many new fans for the network, “bpm:tv’s programming is entirely unique.  We broadcast dance music videos that are literally never seen anywhere else, along with documentaries and interviews on different dance genres, performers and events that don’t get a lot of recognition on other formats.  I’m positive that people will want to continue watching the channel, after the preview.  We’re so happy that our broadcast partners were receptive to presenting this campaign.  Many thanks to all the Canadian television providers and our promotional partner, Sony of Canada.


In addition to the free preview, bpm:tv viewers have an opportunity to win a Sony BRAVIA 40” HD TV and Home Theatre System.  The free viewing campaign, combined with a Sony contest, was previously employed by bpm:tv in summer 2008; the results were extremely positive, with numbers for new subscribers surpassing expectations.


The multi-platform initiative also includes visits to cable and satellite customer call centers, where bpm:tv marketers will educate customer service representatives on the channel’s programming.  The staffs at each call centre will also have a chance to win Sony MP3 Walkmans.  The enthusiasm over the prizing keeps bpm:tv “top of mind” at the call centres, as well as viewers’ homes.


Ana Liang, Marketing Manager at Bell TV says, “Bell TV wants to give our customers a chance to sample channels that aren’t available in many standard packages.  Our loyal client base receives a bonus channel on their service, which reflects positively on perceived customer service.  Plus, many people will enjoy what they’re watching and subscribe to an additional channel.  We’re happy that bpm:tv launched this promotion on Bell TV.”


With great support from all the various stakeholders, bpm:tv hopes to attract large contingents of new subscribers this month.   The contest and the free preview end on April 30th.  For information on bpm:tv and to enter the contest,

visit www.bpmtv.com.


For more information, contact:

David Vowell, Vice President of Marketing, (416) 756-5507, dvowell@stornoway.com

Earth Day 2009 is Wednesday, April 22nd, and digital television network ichannel is airing a ubiquitous offering of environmental themes throughout that entire week of programming.


The special Earth Week schedule begins on Monday, April 20th, with an @issue titled “Preservation of the Ozone” at 8:00pm and 11:00pm ET and PT.  Immediately following is a documentary on how over seven million inhabitants of the Pacific Islands are dealing with elevated water temperatures, violent storms and rising sea levels, as a result of climate change in “Rising Waters” on idocs.


On Tuesday, April 21st, @issue’s topic is the fishing industry and its affect on oceanic populations in “Have Our Fisheries Dried Up”.  A similarly themed idoc follows called “Farming the Seas”, a sequel to the award-winning PBS special “Empty Oceans, Empty Nets”.


On Earth Day, @issue spotlights three companies that are making environmental responsibility a priority that could actually prove profitable, “Agents of Environmental Change”.  The idoc at 9:00pm, “The Disappearing of Tuvalu: Trouble In Paradise”, concentrates on the tiny South Pacific country of Tuvalu.  Inhabitants there are likely to have to evacuate within the next 50 years, because of rising seas and increasingly violent climate changes.  


Thursday’s prime time lineup begins with Green Matters, a forum for practical application techniques, products and practices that average people can employ to improve the environment.  Next, a spotlight on the ecological crusaders belonging to “Canada’s Clean Air Crew” airs on @issue.  Then, a National Geographic special Australia’s Great Barrier Reef offers breathtaking underwater cinematography and fascinating narration about various indigenous oceanic species.


@issue on Friday, “Champions of Conservation”, profiles companies that are conscientiously conserving resources and employing renewable energy sources.  At 9:00pm and 10:00pm, a six part BBC series launches.  Hot Rocks – Journey to the Centre of the Earth deals with the impact that Mother Nature and geological phenomena have had on the habitats of past civilizations.


The eight part series Precious Earth launches on Saturday, April 25th, completing the week of programming focusing on the themes of our air, water, land and world.


ichannel – Intelligent Television – is available by subscription through local cable and satellite television providers across Canada.


For more information, contact: 

Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

Slavery, Segregation, Shocking Secrets:
Canada’s “Hidden History” Revealed on ichannel

Toronto – February 11, 2009 – Most Canadian students have learned about the “Underground Railroad”, a 19th century effort to help slaves escape from the U.S. for freedom in Canada. However, as revealed on an ichannel Black History Month special, conventional curriculums deliberately overlook the fact that slavery was active in Canada, along with segregation in schools, theatres and even towns for whites only.

In “Hidden History”, centuries of discrimination toward African Canadians is explored, as an installment of ichannel’s “@ issue”. Host Kevin O’Keefe’s guests include Rosemary Sadlier, author and President of the Ontario Black History Society, who summarizes the acceptance and practice of slavery in Canada, until it was abolished on August 1, 1834.

Barrington Walker, Associate Professor of History at Queens University, joins the discussion to explain that the “Underground Railroad” flowed both ways. For a short period in 1784, slavery was abolished in some Northeastern U.S. states, and black slaves were actually smuggled south of the border to escape slavery in Canada.

Sylvia Hamilton, producer of the documentary “Little Black Schoolhouse”, talks about segregation, revealing that the last segregated school in Ontario still existed until 1964, while one was still maintained in Nova Scotia until 1983. She also discusses Viola Desmond, a Nova Scotia businesswoman who was jailed and fined in 1946, for sitting in the white section of a movie theatre. Desmond is largely regarded as “Canada’s Rosa Parks”.

The show concludes with George Elliott Clarke, a Nova Scotian African Canadian author and historian. Among other facts Clarke discloses that many African Canadians actually returned to the U.S., after the Civil War ended in 1865, because their treatment in Canada was so deplorable. He warns that keeping Black History hidden allowed Canada to repeat human rights violations, including the Japanese internment during the Second World War and the Chinese Head Tax.

@ issue “Hidden History” will be televised on ichannel on Tuesday, February 24th, at 8:00pm ET and PT. ichannel is available through local television providers.

For more information, contact:
Kevin O’Keefe, @ issue Producer, (416) 756-5505, kokeefe@ichannel.ca
Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

Finally….A Forum for Twenty Somethings:
ichannel’s “The What Is!”

Toronto – January 23, 2009 – It’s not hard to figure out what demographic most television current affairs shows are targeting. Watch a commercial break, and you’re likely to see ads for cholesterol controllers, prostate treatments and retirement funds.

That’s why digital television network ichannel formed a partnership with Not Like Us Productions, the creative young minds behind the indie television series “Twixters” as well as the Cynically Tested Channel on MySpace and YouTube. The result is a series called “The What Is!”.

Hosted by comedian Dan Speerin, “The What Is!” is a collection of timely and irreverent exposés that explore issues largely overlooked by typical news magazines. The issues presented are real, and the content is factual. However, the programs deliver each topic with a lampoonery, typical of satirical “political commentaries” like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

ichannel aired a pilot, The What Is: Election 2008!, in October. Audience and critical response to the premiere were so positive that three more installments have been completed, and more shows are in pre-production.

Episode one of the series premieres on Thursday, February 12th at 7:30pm ET. Titled “The Rebuttal” it features Speerin and his “focus group” as they fight back against “the growing media backlash toward Generation Y”.

Program number two, “The Drop Fees Bailout” is scheduled to air Thursday, February 19th. Focus group and man-on-the-street segments analyze student debt and implore the government to provide federally or provincially funded relief.

The third show, titled “The Awkward Office”, explores the possibility of a growing generation gap in the modern work place, as well as an emphasis on the current job economy. Included is an interview with Workopolis president Patrick Sullivan.

Each show is repeated on the following Friday night at 10:30pm ET, exclusively on ichannel – Intelligent Television. ichannel is available by subscription from cable and satellite providers across Canada.

For further information, contact:
Vince Kesavamoorthy, “The What Is!” Producer, (647) 287-5374, vince@twixterstv.com
Alan So, “The What Is!” Producer, (416) 689-7987, alan@twixterstv.com
Rosemary Fusca, ichannel Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com