News & Ideas
All Articles

Once Upon a Time in Toronto

First-ever collaborative television production between Canada and China
    Launches exclusively on OMNI to audiences in BC, Alberta and Ontario
                     Series Starts Saturday, October 17th

TORONTO, Oct. 6 /CNW/ – OMNI Television (Rogers Media) is pleased to announce its latest contribution to Canadian broadcast history: the world television premiere of Once Upon a Time in Toronto, a 20-part Mandarin-language drama series and first-ever mutually supported television production between Canadian and Chinese companies.

OMNI Television launches Once Upon a Time in Toronto to audiences in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, Saturday, October 17th as follows:

                          OMNI                             Time
        - Vancouver, Victoria - OMNI BC (CHNM-TV)       8:00 PM PT
        - Calgary - OMNI Calgary (CJCO-TV)
       ----------------------------------------------   8:00 PM MT
        - Edmonton - OMNI Edmonton (CJEO-TV)
        - Ontario - OMNI.2 (CJMT-TV)                    8:00 PM ET

Viewers will enjoy two full hours of compelling drama, as OMNI airs two back-to-back episodes of Once Upon a Time in Toronto each week. In consideration of the series’ cross-cultural appeal, all Mandarin language dialogue is subtitled — in Chinese and English.

“This is a proud achievement for Rogers, bringing Once Upon a Time in Toronto to OMNI viewers throughout Canada and we salute everyone who contributed their time and energy in delivering this monumental project,” says Leslie Sole, CEO, Television at Rogers Media. “Once Upon a Time in Toronto reflects the immigrant experience in a tale that relates to people beyond borders. This work is a landmark in multilingual/multicultural television production around the world.”

Once Upon a Time in Toronto follows the intertwining lives of a diverse group of people from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds as they are forced to deal with their emotions, and each other, following a tragic car accident. The characters portrayed in Once Upon a Time in Toronto span generation and tradition as do the actors themselves; fundamental to the collaboration between Toronto-based Goldspin and China’s Western Movie Group was that cast and crew be drawn from both partner-countries.

“The production of Once upon a time in Toronto bridged language and culture to bring together Canadian and Chinese talents and I am confident that its broadcast in both countries will reach beyond to entertain all,” says Irene Chu, Founder of Goldspin Productions Inc. and Canadian Executive Producer of the series. “We were extremely excited to work with Western Movie Group on this milestone project.”

Once Upon a Time is directed by Yang Ya-Zhou, one of China’s top directors, widely known as “the people’s director” for his skill at chronicling social change. Ni Ping, a virtual household name in China, stars as the main character “Duan Ling”; Vancouver-based actress Lora Sun portrays her daughter, “Zhuang Xiaodie.” Other Canadian cast members include Elder Vern Harper, a leading member of the Cree First Nation and Sydney Shugan, a little girl from St. Catharines, ON who was literally discovered during production.

With a cross-cultural cast and crew that exemplifies Canada/China interchange and a storyline that reflects Canada’s diversity while exalting traditional Chinese family values, Once Upon A Time In Toronto strikes a universal, inner chord of unity and inspiration.

Once upon a Time in Toronto was made possible by OMNI’s Independent Producers Initiative, a $32.5 million independent production fund that to date has supported over 400 hours of documentary programming. Interested producers can access funding criteria @

About OMNI Television:

OMNI™ is a free, over-the-air multilingual/multicultural television system committed to positive portrayal and broadcast reflection of Canada’s diversity through the airing of inclusive and accessible programming. With five television stations — in BC; Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton) and Ontario (OMNI.1 and OMNI.2) – OMNI is available to 16.5 million households in major market areas. As well as specializing in Canadian multilingual/ multicultural programming, OMNI carries well-known International series and films – including East Asian Super Cinema and South Asian Bollywood Freetime Movies. OMNI Television is a part of Rogers Broadcasting Limited., a division of Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX: RCI and NYSE: RCI) which is a diversified Canadian communications and media company. For more information visit

About Goldspin Productions Inc./Irene Chu:

Goldspin was established by Irene Chu over ten years ago initially to facilitate production of local cultural festivals and performances. The company has since expanded its responsibilities to encompass international television, including Once Upon A Time In Toronto. Irene Chu is active in many organizations, such as: Toronto International Film Festival Group; Canadian Ethnic Media Association and the Hong Fook Mental Health Foundation (serving Chinese, Cambodian, Korean and Vietnamese communities). Previously, she was Canadian Immigration & Refugee Appeals Board member and Canadian Citizenship Court Judge. Irene Chu has written and oral proficiency in Mandarin (Putonghua), Shanghai, Cantonese and Jiangxi Dialect.

About Western Movie Group:

Xi’An Film Studio, the main component of Western Movie Group, was founded in 1958. It was the first corporate entity in the film industry in China to go through a total re-structuring process. During its 48 years of history, Xi’An Film Studio has produced 270 films and has received almost an equal number of awards and trophies. Among Chinese film studios, it holds the highest record for the number of films exported and the number of awards received.