CBC AND BET+ GREENLIGHT “THE PORTER” (WORKING TITLE), AN ORIGINAL DRAMA ABOUT RAILWAY WORKERS IN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES WHO JOINED TOGETHER TO GIVE BIRTH TO THE WORLD’S FIRST BLACK UNION AND SPARKED A CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
December 10, 2020 - CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, and BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience, are partnering on original series THE PORTER (working title, 8x60) from Inferno Pictures and Sienna Films,which has been greenlit for 2021/22. Originated and created by Arnold Pinnock (Altered Carbon, The Travelers) and Bruce Ramsay (19-2, Cardinal), with Annmarie Morais (Killjoys, Ransom, American Soul), Marsha Greene (Private Eyes, Ten Days In The Valley, Mary Kills People) and Aubrey Nealon (Snowpiercer, Cardinal), THE PORTER is set in the roar of the 1920s and follows the journeys of four ambitious souls who hustle, dream, cross borders and confront barriers in the fight for liberation - on and off the railways that crossed North America. Morais and Greene are writers/showrunners on the eight-part series, with Charles Officer (21 Thunder, Ransom, Coroner) and R.T. Thorne (Blindspot, Utopia Falls) set to executive produce and direct. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers.
The first season, set primarily in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit as the world rebuilds after the First World War, depicts another battle as it ripples through the Black community in Little Burgundy, Montreal - known, at the time, as the “Harlem of the North.” For the American and Canadian men working as railway porters, it’s a fight for equity and dignity. For the women in their lives, facing sexism and colorism, it’s a movement to claim their independence and identity. They’re young, gifted and Black, in an era that boasts anything is possible, and if change isn’t coming for them, they will come for it. By any means necessary.
Inspired by real events, THE PORTER is a gripping story of empowerment and idealism that highlights the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the United States joined together to give birth to the world’s first Black union.
“Bruce and I have always wanted to showcase the Railway Porters and their families - and the impact they had in Black communities in cities across North America,” said Pinnock.
“The Porter is more than a healthy dose of history. It’s a bold, sexy, unapologetic look at Black ambition,” said Morais.
"It's a critical time to bring Black stories to our screens, especially those that detail the trials and triumphs of the real women and men who fought for equality before us. We look forward to working with CBC and this strong creative team to bring this story to life," said Devin Griffin, Executive Vice President and General Manager, BET+.
“Led by an extraordinary creative team, The Porter is a vital story highlighting people and events in our history that are long overdue to be told. We are excited to partner with BET+ to bring this series to audiences on both sides of the border,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual and Sports, CBC.
A CBC and BET+ original series, THE PORTER is originated and created by Arnold Pinnock and Bruce Ramsay, with Annmarie Morais, Marsha Greene and Aubrey Nealon, and produced by Winnipeg-based Inferno Pictures Inc. and Sphere Media’s Sienna Films. Morais and Greene are showrunners and executive producers. Charles Officer and R.T. Thorne will direct the series and are executive producers. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers. The series is written by Morais, Greene, Andrew Burrows-Trotman, Priscilla White, Pinnock and Ramsay, with R.T. Thorne participating in the writers’ room. The series is funded with the support of the Canada Media Fund and Manitoba Film & Music and is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights (AMR) and Sphere Distribution. AMR and Sienna Films brokered the partnership with BET+.
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Through our mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, we play a central role in strengthening Canadian culture. As Canada’s trusted news source, we offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on news, current affairs and world affairs. Our distinctively homegrown entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country. Deeply rooted in communities, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also deliver content in Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, as well as both official languages, through Radio Canada International (RCI). We are leading the transformation to meet the needs of Canadians in a digital world.
BET+ is the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience, with exclusive originals and thousands of TV episodes and movies from the best Black creators. A joint venture between BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios, BET+ allows users to stream Black culture including hit movies, TV shows, stand-up comedy, award shows, and specials, all in one place, commercial-free. The new service from BET Networks, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc., is the official home of Tyler Perry’s film, TV and stage works. The ad-free subscription video-on-demand service also provides users with access to original content including hit series First Wives Club from Tracey Oliver, Tyler Perry’s Ruthless and Bruh, Will Packer’s Bigger, hit unscripted anthology series American Gangster Trap Queens, exclusive originals from Carl Weber including The Family Business, Sacrifice and Influence to name a few. Visit BET.Plus to learn more and follow @BETPlus on social to join the conversation and get the latest.
About Inferno Pictures Inc.
Inferno Pictures is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba and led by President Ian Dimerman, who has financed and produced numerous feature films and television movies including Christmas at The Plaza, The Christmas Club, Cinema of Sleep, Fracture, Percy, A Dog's Journey,The Parts You Lose, How It Ends, Journey Back to Christmas, Goon, and Mr. Hockey: the Gordie Howe Story.
About Sienna Films
Led by EP/Producers Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny, Sienna Films is one of Canada’s preeminent scripted content companies, producing film and television internationally since 1992. Their most recent series, Trickster (CBC), was named one of Variety’s top 15 dramas at MIPCOM 2020, and the final season of Cardinal (Bell Media), Season 4, was a continued success internationally including BBC Two, where it aired to critical acclaim and high ratings. In 2020, Sienna Films was acquired by Sphere Media, which specializes in the creation, adaptation, production and distribution of television and film content.
About Abacus Media Rights
Abacus Media Rights (AMR) acquires and distributes a diverse slate of premium, multi-genre programming in the international market. At the same time, the company also works with producers to facilitate pre-sales and development finance as well as broadcaster commissions. Embracing a fully transparent reporting ethos throughout, AMR focuses on building strong client relationships and generating positive solutions at every stage of the process, from initial financing to worldwide broadcast in order to successfully deliver scripted and non-scripted entertainment that counts to a global audience. Abacus Media Rights is financed by the Amcomri Media Group. Further information: www.abacusmediarights.com
For more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Reid, CBC PR