♦ A somber cloud hung over Canada’s entertainment industry this week following the loss of media mogul Jay Switzer, who passed away surrounded by family in Toronto Monday night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 61 years old. In his lifetime, Switzer was devoted to his role in the growth and success of Canada in the industry, most notably the as one of the key players behind the launch of MuchMusic in 1984 and as CEO of leading Canadian broadcasting company CHUM from 2002 until the summer after its sale to CTV in 2006. Over the course of his career, he was an active board member of countless media organizations (including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Toronto Film Board) and served on the Advisory Board for the Faculty of Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson University. His accolades include the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the Friend of Women in Film and Television Award, the Human Relations Award from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and, just this past December, the insignia of Member of the Order of Canada, which is the second-highest honour given to a Canadian citizen. His legacy will live on for many generations to come.
♦ Production of DC’s latest film, Shazam!, is officially underway at Pinewood Toronto Studios, as confirmed by director David F. Sandberg in a recent post on Instagram. Zachary Levi, who has also dabbled in the rival Marvel Cinematic Universe with a recurring role in the Thor trilogy, will star as Billy Batson, a teen-turned-superhero who gains mysterious powers after uttering the movie’s titular exclamation. Following the massive success of Wonder Woman in 2017, DC announced the upcoming release of Shazam! and two other feature films — Wonder Woman 2 and Aquaman, which wrapped location shooting in Newfoundland last September. Shazam! is scheduled for cinematic release in April 2019.
♦ TIFF has named founder and owner of Touchwood PR Andréa Grau as its new Vice President of Public Relations and Corporate Affairs, effective February 5, 2018. She will be responsible for leading Department 30, TIFF’s in-house advertising agency, which handles all Creative, Editorial, Digital and Marketing activities. Director & CEO Piers Handling, who announced Grau’s appointment Wednesday morning, noted that she has been professionally linked to the organization for over 20 years, starting out as an intern shortly after graduating university and later heading up TIFF’s Communications team.
♦ After the usual post-holidays January intermission, it’s time for Toronto’s theatre scene to take centre stage once again: Major theatre group like Mirvish and Canadian Stage will resume their 2017/2018 seasons this month with a lineup of returning hit productions as well as brand new works; Soulpepper is slowly getting back to business as usual following the Albert Schultz scandal that exploded last month; and the city’s many smaller, indie theatre collectives are offering up plenty of fresh fare from Toronto’s brilliant minds going into February and March. Here are some of the upcoming shows happening in and around the city you won’t want to miss!
Factory Presents: Bang Bang by Kat Sandler (February 1 – 18, Factory Mainspace Theatre)
Factory Presents: The Monument by Colleen Wagner (March 15 – April 1, Factory Mainspace Theatre)