Arcand, Cronenberg join Canadian Film and TV Hall of Fame

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Ten industry icons including Oscar-winning director Denys Arcand, thrill-master David Cronenberg and renowned actor Christopher Plummer were inducted into the third annual Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes accomplishments in six distinct categories: creative, talent, industry builder, feature film, television and pioneer.

This year’s creative award will be shared by Atom Egoyan and Cronenberg, while the talent award goes to Plummer. Maria Topolovich, one of the founders of the Academy of Canadian Cinema, will accept the industry builder award, and the feature film award goes to veteran distributor Victor Loewy, who is being honored for outstanding achievement in distribution and exhibition through his work with Alliance Films. The television winner is Patrick Watson, whose innovative contribution to TV journalism played a key role in the development of many groundbreaking public affairs series at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

There are four inductees in the posthumous “pioneer” category: Chief Dan George (1899-1981), the outstanding Canadian actor known for his performances in The Outlaw Josey Wales and Little Big Man; Ernie Coombs (1927-2001), CBC’s beloved Mr. Dressup; Norman McLaren (1914-1987), the National Film Board’s Oscar-winning poet of animation; and broadcasting magnate Ted Rogers (1933-2008), who created an empire of wireless, cable, radio and television entities, as well as owning the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ontario Expands Tax Credit
The Government of Ontario announced plans to expand its film and TV production services tax credit beyond a foreign production’s Ontario labor spend. This follows a similar announcement by Quebec’s government, as both provinces try to sweeten incentives to lure foreign producers.

The “expanded credit” will include tangible properties such as equipment and studio rentals for everything shot after June 30, 2009.

What is not clear at this point in time is whether the Ontario credit will cover airline tickets, hotel rooms and craft services as does the enhanced Quebec credit. Local stakeholders are praising the move and are awaiting clarification on what will and will not be included.

Cineplex Revamps Newmarket Site
When Cineplex Entertainment opened its new XSCAPE Entertainment Centre at the SilverCity Newmarket Centre in Newmarket, Ontario, patrons were doing a lot more than just watching the movies. The 10,000-square-foot leisure centre has 80 of the latest videogames (including virtual bowling), a licensed lounge with all the bells and whistles, and lots of food choices.

Why the revamp? Too many screens in one area. When Cineplex bought Famous Players five years ago, the circuit already had the 10-screen Cineplex Odeon Aurora in the same area as its newly acquired 16-screen Silver City. So the company took an architectural scalpel to the complex just in time for summer 2009. Three screens have disappeared, but a snazzy hangout with lots of activities for both teens and adults has been created to take their place. According to Pat Marshall, VP of communications and investor relations, “Now there’s something for everyone”

Cop Comedy Scores in Canada
Actor Michel Côté (C.R.A.Z.Y., Cruising Bar) has paid off at the box office yet again. His police comedy De père en flic shot past the CA$3 million mark in less than two weeks on the big screen.

Produced by Cinemaginaire’s Denise Robert and Daniel Louis, the movie teams Côté and Louis-José Houde (Bon Cop, Bad Cop) as father-and-son cops who are forced to work together despite deep-seated differences.

Telefilm Looks for Laughs
Five feature-length comedies are expected to go before the cameras by 2011 or 2012 via a new effort led by the Canadian Film Centre, Telefilm Canada and Just for Laughs. The new venture was unveiled this summer at the Montreal-based comedy festival.

The Telefilm Canada Features Comedy Lab will utilize CA$1 million over the next three years, developing original comedies and training teams of writers and directors. The new program is looking to leverage Canada’s reputation for comedy into films that are more marketable at home and abroad.

According to Sheila de la Varende, head of national and international business development, Canada is recognized globally for its sense of humor yet has not fully exploited its potential to make funny and commercially successful feature films.

The move stems from a recommendation made by Telefilm’s English-language working group for the agency to be more involved in genres and scriptwriting. The program is scheduled to start in November. Teams will be paired with comedy mentors including “SCTV” and American Pie star Eugene Levy, who will guide projects into production.

The Canadian Film Centre and Just for Laughs will contribute know-how in script development and getting laughs. Teams chosen to participate will take part in workshop master classes and other sessions at the film school.

E-mail Canadian news items to Adina Lebo at mptac.ca@ca.inter.net.