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Heroes,’ ‘House’ back on Global this fall, but network launch marred by protest

TORONTO (CP) _ Colin Mochrie, Wendy Crewson and Gordon Pinsent were among several dozen performers who put a damper on Global’s splashy fall TV launch Wednesday, waving placards and yelling slogans outside a downtown theatre demanding that more homegrown series be put on television.

The noisy protest, organized by the performers union ACTRA, forced TV advertisers, media and other industry players to sidestep a picket line as they filed in to see Canadian and U.S. stars trumpet shows set to appear on the broadcaster’s fall lineup.

Crewson said the protest was not targeted at Global specifically, but rather Canadian broadcasters in general.

"Our airwaves are now filled with American shows 24-7," complained Crewson, a veteran actress who appears in the sci-fi show "ReGenesis," and the film "Away From Her."

"We’re here to say that they have a responsibility to the Canadian public out of the millions and millions of dollars they make from advertising, by showing American shows, to put some back into Canadian content. We need to hear our stories, we need to see our people and our stories on the airwaves during prime-time hours."

Inside the theatre, Global executives touted the return of hit shows like "Heroes" and "House" to their prime-time lineup and introduced a slate of new programs featuring stars Jimmy Smits, Julianna Margulies, Adam Arkin and Kelsey Grammer.

The broadcaster introduced a handful of new Canadian series as well, including the dark thriller "Durham County," sitcom "About a Girl," Coast Guard series "Search and Rescue" and dramedy "’da Kink In My Hair," based on the award-wiinning play of the same name.

Global is the third of the big three Canadian networks to reveal its fall lineup.

Earlier this week, CTV announced a powerhouse schedule heavy on U.S. imports and featuring no new Canadian programming, although Canadian successes "Degrassi," "Corner Gas" and "Canadian Idol," are set to return.

CBC’s fall lineup includes a sexy new miniseries, "The Tudors," starring British actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers and returning comedy "Little Mosque on the Prairie."

Global’s new series include "Cane," a multi-generational drama about a Latin family starring Smits, and "Back to You," a comedy about a TV news team featuring "Frasier" star Grammer and "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Patricia Heaton.

It was also announced that Global anchor Kevin Newman will be transferring from Vancouver to Ottawa, a move the network said makes its national newscast the only one to be anchored in the nation’s capital. The main production hub of the newcast will remain in Vancouver.

Broadcasters buy more US programs

Toronto – Canadian performers are angered that executives of Canada’s private broadcasters are in L.A. this week gambling hundreds of millions of dollars on new American shows for the fall television season while neglecting our own domestic industry.

“Canada’s private broadcasters are eager to hand over more than $250 million dollars on new American dramas and reality shows, when they should be investing in new Canadian dramas in their own backyards,” said Richard Hardacre ACTRA’s National President. “They spend millions of dollars on American shows in what amounts to an annual crap shoot that pays out few winners.”

Canada’s private broadcasters enjoy the benefit of protection from foreign competition, but are not willing or obligated by the CRTC to invest in Canadian English-language television dramas. It is not acceptable that Canadian broadcasters acquire simulcast rights of U.S. shows, air them in primetime slots, and treat Canadian dramas as second-class citizens.

Canadian broadcasters continue to:

· allow U.S. simulcasts to dictate the programming of Canadian shows;

· increase their profits every year as they insert Canadian advertising into these already produced U.S. simulcasts; and

· add to the profits of U.S. producers who have already recouped the cost of these shows in the U.S.

“Our broadcasters have decreased their spending on Canadian drama by almost $12 million over the past year,” says Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s National Executive Director. “Last year they spent 12 times more on buying foreign programming than they did all year on Canadian drama.”

Canadian performers insist the CRTC ensure private broadcasters spend at least 7% of their advertising revenue on new Canadian English-language dramas and schedule a minimum of two hours of these dramas in real prime-time (Sunday to Thursday, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m).

ACTRA awards in Montreal

Montreal, Don Jordan, President of ACTRA Montreal, is pleased to announce the nominees for the 2007 ACTRA Awards in Montreal to be presented at Le Medley on June 9, 2007.

"Last year’s awards show was a tremendous success and we expect to capture the same spirited energy and enormous sense of pride with the event in June," said Jordan.

ACTRA Montreal’s 2007 Award of Excellence will be presented to Walter Massey. This year’s Community Builder Award will be presented to Arden Ryshpan.

Four juried ACTRA Awards will be presented: the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Female Performance, the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Male Performance, the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Voice Performance, and for the first time, the ACTRA Award for Outstanding Stunt Performance.

The nominees are:

Outstanding Female Performance

Isabelle Blais in Human Trafficking

Sarah Carlsen in The Festival

Laurence Leboeuf  in Human Trafficking

Ellen David  in The Business

Miranda Handford  in Tripping the Wire: A Stephen Tree Mystery

Outstanding Male Performance

Stephane Demers  in Trudeau 2: Maverick in the Making

Nicolas Wright  in The Festival 

Gianpaolo Venuta  in Pure 

Nobuya Shimamoto in The Business 

Alain Goulem  in The Tournament 

Outstanding Voice Performance

Daniel Brochu  in Postcards From Buster

Holly Gauthier-Frankel  in Monster Allergy

Bruce Dinsmore  in What’s With Andy?

Jane Wheeler  in Prudence Gumshoe

Michel Perron  in Monster Allergy

Outstanding Stunt Performance

Patrick Kerton  in Bon Cop Bad Cop

Marcello Bezina  in Deaden

France Raymond  in 10.5 Apocalypse

Stephane Lefebvre  in Last Exit

Thomas Liccioni  in The Covenant

In addition, there will be an afternoon screening of the 4th Annual ACTRA Short Film Festival and the Audience Choice for Best ACTRA Short will be presented at the evening’s Awards.

ACA, ACTRA and ICA settle

Toronto, May 11, 2007 – ACTRA and the Canadian ad industry represented by the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), and the Institute of Communications and Advertising (ICA) have tentatively agreed to a one-year extension of the current National Commercial Agreement. The ad industry associations and ACTRA agreed to increase performer minimum fees and rates by 3% as well as adding 1% in Insurance contributions for performers. The Parties also agreed to enter into non-binding and without prejudice discussions to take place over the one year period on a short list of issues important to ACTRA and the industry associations.

The terms of settlement have already been approved by the Boards of ACA and ICA, and must now be submitted for approval by ACTRA’s membership in a mailed referendum vote. If ratified, the deal will take effect on July 1, 2007 and will expire June 30, 2008. The National Commercial Agreement covers all the terms and conditions of engagement of professional performers in all English-language television, radio and new media commercials produced in Canada and for use in Canada.

Founded in 1914 and incorporated in 1917, the Association of Canadian Advertisers – Canada’s only national association exclusively representing client marketers – is dedicated to helping members maximize the value of their investments in all forms of marketing communication. The ACA represents over 200 companies and divisions that collectively account for estimated sales of $350 billion annually. 

The Institute of Communications and Advertising (www.ica-ad.com), founded in 1905, represents Canada’s communications and advertising agencies. ICA’s member agencies and subsidiaries account for over 80% of all national advertising in Canada. ICA promotes higher standards and best practices, and serves as the largest source of information, advice and training for Canada’s communication and advertising industry, whose economic impact is worth $14.5 billion annually. Each year, ICA member agencies also donate millions of dollars in pro bono work to help support over 100 local, regional and national charities and non-profit organizations.

ACTRA disappointed with Artists Act

For Immediate Release: ACTRA Toronto President Karl Pruner expressed ACTRA’s deep disappointment in the Status of Ontario’s Artists Act, passed yesterday as part of the budget package. Responding to statements by Minister of Culture Caroline Di Cocco, Pruner said,

“The government of Ontario failed artists with this Bill. This Act does nothing to alleviate the difficult financial and working conditions of artists.”

Artists are among the most underpaid workers in our economy and they are without many of the protections and benefits that other workers rely on. In the 2003 election, this government promised to bring in Status of the Artist legislation to address these concerns.

“The government had an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of artists and they blew it. I am astounded that the Minister of Culture is trumpeting this as an achievement. The Act ignores the recommendations of her own sub-committee and it fails to provide any real support for artists. It is nothing more than window dressing,” said Pruner.

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