Friday, October 30, 2009

Broken Heroes on the fifth estate

the fifth estate marks the imminent arrival of Veterans Week (Nov. 5-11) with tonight's provocative documentary Broken Heroes, a look at Canadian Forces veterans struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after serving multiple tours in conflict zones like Afghanistan.
The report is filed by Gillian Findlay, who shares stories of three Canadian soldiers who have battled severe depression and a military system struggling to provide them (and other veterans) with effective treatment upon their return to Canada.
Findlay is the reporter who last season spent almost a month in Afghanistan and presented the fifth's remarkable Life and Death in Kandahar, an hour-long account of Canadian Forces medical personnel working at the multinational hospital at Kandahar Air Field.
For video clips and more info, go to

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Viewers Fired Up for Dragons Den

Who says a recession is all bad news? Viewers are watching TV in huge numbers, a trend that began early this year, and that's been a boon for TV execs and broadcasters across North America. CBC’s audience numbers out of the gate this season have been impressive, especially for its flagships programs.
Last week's season premiere of Dragons Den scored more than 1.32 million* viewers, and there’s no reason to think tonight’s episode, the second of its fourth season, won’t perform as well.
(photo: Dragon Kevin O'Leary goes above and beyond listening to an Anne of Green Gables pitch)
Dragons Den is one of few series that I watch out of interest not just TV-critic-duty ( what a misuse of the word duty). It was a slow burn for me, but by the second season Dragons Den was must-watch TV. A good part of its appeal has always been the boisterous competition between the Dragons: entrepreneurs Jim Treliving (Chair, Boston Pizza), Arlene Dickinson (CEO, Venture Communications), Kevin O'Leary (ex-President, The Learning Company), W Brett Wilson (Founder, FirstEnergy Capital Corp) and Robert Herjavec (founder,The Herjavec Group). Each of the five has made a fortune in Canadian and international business.
O’Leary and Herjavec also appear on ABC’s Shark Tank, producer Mark Burnett’s (Survivor) U.S. version. So what’s the difference between a shark and a dragon? “Well, it’s a little big grittier,” Herjavec recently said during a phone interview.
That’s true, but a few highlights from tonight’s episode indicate it’s likely to be a bit of scorcher, with one ambitious pitcher dropping the proverbial gloves in a verbal sparring match with O’Leary (said ambitious not sensible. You can check out highlights of tonight’s episode here
At a glance, the episode features pitchers trying to get the Dragons to invest in the following product ideas: a new lip balm, specialty hot sauces, Anne of Green Gables memorabilia and an innovative child bicycle seat.
Suffice it to say that so far this season, the entertainment value has been high. And the pitchers, even those with oddball products, like last week’s Deer Call hunters bracket, are becoming increasingly savvy.
“There are now real businesses who want our investment dollars and we’ve had some fantastic pitches this season,” says Herjavec. “I actually want to make some money.”
The dragons invest a total of $15 million this season, he points out. So far, this season, I was most impressed by the Dragons’ decision to invest in Mistura, a mineral-based cosmetics product. Pitcher Andi Marcus seemed incredibly smart about her product and its market.
“We see so many presentations,” says Herjavec, “and the most common mistake (pitchers make) not engaging us quickly. By the time we see a pitch we may have been there all day and they need to get our attention right away.”
Probably sound advice for any business. And by all accounts, tonight’s is sure to be another attention grabber. And that's more good news for CBC.

*(figures from CBC Media Release, photo: CBC)