TV Series Volume Dampened by FTAC Campaign
from “Playback Magazine: About Production, Broadcasting, and Interactive Media in Canada”
by Ian Edwards

Vancouver: Dare we say it, but the Film and Television Action Committee may be having some negative effect on production volumes in Vancouver this year. The FTAC in Hollywood, which blames Canada for the loss of production and jobs at home, is the likely culprit behind the loss of at least two pilots that shot in Vancouver but are going to be made as series in Los Angeles.

CBS' Haunted, about a detective who gets help from dead people to solve crimes, and Touchstone/ABC's That Was Then, about a 30-year-old who travels back in time to get a second chance at his life, have been picked up as series but are in production in L.A. because of apparent pressure from cast and crew to stay put.

In fact, only Fox series John Doe, PAX TV series Just Cause and the return of Twilight Zone, the New Line/Trilogy anthology that wouldn't die, are fresh series to the current production list. (For those keeping count, the only pilot so far produced here to go to series here is John Doe, about a guy who wakes up knowing everything about everything except for who he is.)

Andromeda, Dead Zone and Stargate SG1 are already in production here and the B.C. Film Commission is hopeful that a third season of Showtime series The Chris Isaak Show and a second season of MGM sci-fi series Jeremiah will be greenlit later this summer.

Touchstone/ABC series Phenomena, based on the movie, and teen ghost series Dead Like Me for MGM just wrapped, but their fates as series are not yet decided.

Proposed series Eastwick for WB, family comedy The Funkhousers for Touchstone and Fox's revival of Time Tunnel, which all shot here, are either dead or in ICU.

In the MOW genre, business is decent with the remake of Stephen King's Carrie for MGM (wrapping Aug. 12), A Very Muppet Xmas for NBC (July 15 to Aug. 23) and NBC's four-hour miniseries 1st To Die, about a quartet of crime-fighting women, which goes into production in August.

Tom Rowe and whatever is left of troubled Sextant Entertainment will oversee the Hallmark/ABC movie Mr. Saint Nick, which wraps July 19.

And the Vancouver office of Dufferin Gate has three MOWs for Showtime: the lesbian-themed Earthlings, the bordello-inspired The Ranch and Out of Order, which is about a dysfunctional married couple who are writing partners.

Third of the litter

Another series returning to Vancouver is the third season of Animal Miracles with Alan Thicke by The Eyes Multimedia Productions, a division of Peach Arch Entertainment. Both Life Network in Canada and PAX TV in the U.S. (where the series is known as Miracle Pets) are on board.

The primetime documentary series, says the company, chronicles the "close and sometimes uncanny relationships between humans and animals" through interviews and dramatic recreations. There a five stories in each of the 13 one-hour episodes.

Production begins in July and runs to December.

Doc talk

The Pacific office of the National Film Board is doing yet more documentary work this year.

The Journey of Lesra Martin is first-time director Cheryl Foggo's portrait of the illiterate street kid from the Brooklyn who was instrumental in the release of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter from prison. Today, Martin is a lawyer-turned-motivational speaker based in Kamloops, B.C. Selwyn Jacob is the producer and Andrew Gardner is story consultant.

From Baghdad to Peace Country, meanwhile, is by first-time director Sherry LePage from Vancouver Island. The documentary is about Canadian artist Deryk Houston who was so profoundly affected by the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where international sanctions have had a devastating impact on children, that he has launched an international art project creating "beautiful, iconic images out of the land," says the NFB. Tracy Friesen is the producer.

For CHUM's The New VI in Victoria and Bravo!, LePage is credited as cowriter and coproducer of Silence of the Strings: A Community Movement for Music, which aired June 23. The one-hour documentary examines the high-profile dispute about the Victoria school board's May 2000 decision to eliminate the elementary school strings program.

Sher Morgan is cowriter, coproducer and director, while Jack Morbin is the editor.

Doc dollars

Among the West Coast productions getting EIP for their 2002 documentaries are: Attila: The Vanishing (Screen Siren Pictures), Every Body (Paperny Films), I Want a Woman (Make Believe Media), Life & Times - The Molsons (Force Four Productions), Lifestyle on Trial (Avanti Pictures) and Welcome Back to Molly's Reach (Force Four Productions).

Computer glitch

Insight Film and Video Productions wrapped two weeks of production June 7 on Maximum Surge, a local sci-fi feature set in the near future about a programmer who does battle with a super computer that is set to "enslave" computer systems around the world.

Leo Award winner Jason Bourque directs stars Woody Jeffreys (Outer Limits, Chris Isaak Show) and Dominika Wolski (Dark Angel, Jeremiah). The film is executive produced by Kirk Shaw.


Mafia Princess, an MOW prepping production in B.C. for W Network, is a coproduction between Brightlight Pictures of Vancouver and Toronto's Debbie Nightingale, who breathed life into the project for two years. She was left off the credits in an earlier B.C. Scene blurb. (And a note to the CTF: secondary producers - i.e. not the lead producers - think they deserve credit, too, on the lists of lucky recipients of government funding. Only one producer gets the mention in the listings, which don't highlight coproductions.)

Nightingale is also coproducing YTV's tween series Phunkee Zee with Savi Media and is in post with a documentary about street theatre in Pakistan.

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