April 19, 2014

"Already 2014 has been shaping up to be something of a breakout year for Canadian TV."

The Star "The new 'golden age' of television is due in large part to the increasing prominence of the writer as the creative executive on television shows; the person ultimately responsible for that singular, passionate vision." by Tony Wong

'The lineup includes Vancouverite Daegan Fryklind’s Bitten, the Toronto-shot werewolf thriller starring Laura Vandervoort (Smallville’s Supergirl) on Space channel. It is joined by Greg Spottiswood’s well-received hospital drama Remedy on Global. And Season 2 of Graeme Manson’s Toronto-produced science fiction thriller Orphan Black premiered Saturday after winning 10 Canadian Screen Awards for the first season.

 Orphan Black Season 2 is ‘a bit nutty’

 Laura Vandervoort plays female werewolf on Bitten

'Meanwhile, Ellis and Morgenstern’s next moves are being watched closely in the industry as the married couple have several irons in the fire, working on two series simultaneously for competitors CBC and CTV. One of them will be a detective show remake of a Belgian TV crime thriller.

 '“I think you’re seeing television really explode because, finally, the storytellers have control over the story; it’s become a writer’s medium,” says Maureen Parker, the executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada, which gave the 2013 Showrunner of the Year award to Ellis and Morgenstern. Perhaps too slowly for some, Canada is emerging into its own star culture for writers. Showrunners such as Tassie Cameron of the cop drama Rookie Blue and Manson of Orphan Black, while not household names, have become more widely recognized.

 'In the movie industry, the director is god. In television, it’s the showrunner.

'“Writers tell stories. And if you look at some of the most successful series, they are guided by writers who are truly visionary, who have this extraordinary skill,” says Rob Labelle, the executive producer of the Canadian-produced cop drama Motive.

 Lauren Holly returns as Dr. Betty Rogers in Motive

  'Nowhere is this more apparent than in Hollywood. Considering that these are the typically unassuming folk who write TV shows, the cult of the runner in Los Angeles is remarkable. Familiar names such as J.J. Abrams, the creator of Lost, Shonda Rhimes of Grey’s Anatomy, Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad or Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will elicit massive lineups at any fan expo.'

much more here

"As the first barrels head for Europe, we cannot afford – and do not need – new sources of harder to reach fossil fuels..."

The Guardian "After months of delays, Russian state-owned oil and gas company Gazprom has announced that the first ever shipment of oil from offshore Arctic waters has begun the journey to Europe." by John Sauven

'This is the oil from the rig that the Arctic 30 went to jail for peacefully protesting against. It has been logistically challenging. Extracting even small amounts of oil in extreme Arctic conditions has taken them longer, and cost them more, than the company had planned.

'But Gazprom has done it and claims first place in the race to exploit the melting Arctic sea ice for more of the fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It is a defining moment for Vladimir Putin's Russia, heralded with great fanfare as a new source of power and profit for years to come.

'Thankfully, most of us recognise the madness of celebrating a new source of fossil fuels in the Arctic. And, just as importantly, the last few months have shown us just how important it is that we cut our dependence on fossil fuels from Kremlin-controlled companies.

'The Ukraine crisis has led Europe's leaders to demand an "energy independence" plan. In June this year, EU leaders will meet to decide their approach.'

more here

"The Nordic nation is the latest 'it' destination..."

Edmonton Journal "...tourist numbers are rising exponentially and the economy is improving. Yet some locals wonder if there can be too much of a good thing." By Elizabeth Withey

'“This is a hunting tour,” guide Sigurdur Jack explains from behind the wheel of a Reykjavik Excursions passenger van heading out into the rugged Icelandic countryside. “At 9:30 we need to get our guns loaded.”

'By guns, Jack actually means cameras, which a group of a dozen European tourists will aim at Iceland’s inky heavens after sunset. They’re hunting for the northern lights.

'White-capped volcanic peaks are visible in the distance as the van speeds out of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. Aurora borealis sightings are never guaranteed (as Canadians know); if the tourists don’t see anything tonight, they can rebook for free. “If we have darkness and a clear sky, there is always a hope,” Jack says.'

more here