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Media Beat: July 13, 2018

By David Farrell

Toronto has been a film and TV hub for decades. Now Guillermo del Toro may give the Canadian city an edge


Guillermo del Toro, the Hollywood director most famous for bringing weirdly sensual and subtly human monsters to the big screen, owes some of his success to Toronto.

His latest dystopian fantasy, “The Shape of Water,” for which he received best picture and director Oscars this year, was shot in and around the sprawling metropolis. Now he’s there prepping for his next feature film, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” the latest in a long list of Toronto credits in Del Toro’s Goth and horror-infused oeuvre.

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“The main complaint of American and Canadian producers is that they can’t find enough studio space in Toronto,” says Paul Bronfman, chairman of Pinewood Toronto and cousin of Edgar Bronfman Jr., the former vice chairman of Vivendi Universal. “We’re turning down productions because we can’t find space for them, but that’s going to change.”

Multicultural and immigrant-friendly Toronto has been a film and television hub for decades, a position enhanced by the influential Toronto International Film Festival. But the city only recently achieved critical mass, bolstered by major Hollywood titles such as Warner Bros’ “Suicide Squad” and the popular television series “Star Trek: Discovery,” both of which shot at Pinewood Toronto.

Spending on film and TV productions in Toronto reached a record $1.53 billion in 2016, up from $1.18 billion in 2015, according to city officials. Production spending fell slightly to $1.37 billion last year, but 2018 is on track to be another strong year and could tie the record, city officials say.

About half of the expansion at Pinewood Toronto will be paid for by Bell Media, owner of Canada's highest-rated television network, CTV, 30 specialty channels and digital assets. The media company in March acquired a majority stake in Pinewood Toronto.

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“Hollywood is very interested in the fact that we now own a studio because it creates exciting new opportunities for producing joint-venture content,” said Randy Lennox, president of Bell Media, a division of BCE Inc., Canada’s equivalent of communications giant AT&T.

Pinewood Toronto Studios will increase its number of soundstages from 11 to 16 over the next year. — Los Angeles Times

DOJ appealing Time Warner, AT&T merger

One month after a federal judge approved AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, ruling that the Justice Department’s antitrust suit had failed to make its case against the merger, the DOJ has decided that the 21-month-old saga isn’t over yet. The DOJ is appealing the ruling, according to court documents filed Thursday. — AdWeek

HBO wants to be like Netflix — but it should be the other way around

Netflix has a generous, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks attitude and they’ve produced some greats (Orange Is the New Black, the first two seasons of House of Cards, Stranger Things). But much of their stuff is pleasantly good, not loyalty-oath-pledging fantastic.— The Star

The times they are a changing: Netflix Scores 112 Emmy Nominations

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The complete list of Emmy nominations was released today and while HBO’s “The Game of Thrones” came out ahead with 22 nominations (the most for any series), Netflix surpassed HBO as the most nominated network/platform with 112 nods, putting the Warner media-owned network’s 17 years of being the most nominated entertainment company to an end. — Videoink

YouTube TV goes down during the World Cup

YouTube TVwent dark during the World Cup soccer semi-final match between England and Croatia on Wednesday.

The service tweeted an apology for the “horrible” timing of the livestream malfunction at about 3 p.m. New York time Wednesday. The outage came less than an hour after YouTube TV tweeted a tongue-in-cheek jab at sports fans cheering for one of the teams in the match: “Hey #ENG fans, are you guys okay?” Bloomberg

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Comcast Raises Sky Offer After Fox Sweetens Bid

The battle for control of European pay-TV giant Sky PLC heated up Wednesday, with 21st Century Fox raising its bid and cable company Comcast Corp. quickly countering later in the day, the latest jockeying in a cross-Atlantic media deal showdown. — The Wall Street Journal

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The cast of "Stereophonic"
Julieta Cervantes

The cast of "Stereophonic"

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Will Butler on Writing the Tony-Nominated Music for ‘Stereophonic’: ‘It Was Like a Thousand-Piece Puzzle With 200 Pieces Missing’

The former Arcade Fire member has two nominations for his stunning songs, written for a fictional (but very believable) rock band onstage.

Will Butler’s first meeting with playwright David Adjmi was fairly open-ended: a friend had told Butler that Adjmi — a fan of Arcade Fire, the band Butler was in at the time — was working on a play about a band and that Butler could “write the music or just consult or whatever.”

But from their first sit-down at a diner near New York’s theatre district, Adjmi’s vision was “instantly recognizable” to Butler: “Like, oh, it’s a demo — it’s like a transcendental thing that they can never recapture. You have things falling apart because the headphones sound bad, you have people yelling at each other over music but it’s because of how their dad treated them,” he recalls with a laugh.

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