CTV fall season puts focus on Canadian fare
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, June 2, 2008 2:23PM EDT
TORONTO - The metropolis of Toronto, with its lush trees, rattling streetcars and gleaming skyscrapers, won't be standing in for an American city on two new CTV series -- "The Listener'' and "Flashpoint'' -- when they air on two major U.S. networks in the coming months.
Both new dramatic series, produced and shot in Canada and starring Canadians, will show off the country's largest city and make no effort to mask its true identity, the producers of both shows said Monday at the private broadcaster's fall launch.
"We really are taking a feature film-ic approach and we're showcasing Toronto in a very beautiful way which we're very proud of,'' said Anne Marie La Traverse, executive producer of "Flashpoint,'' about a crack response unit inspired by Toronto's own emergency task force team.
Her co-executive producer, Bill Mustos, said CBS officials asked him if he was determined to set the show in Toronto when they were negotiating a deal with the network amid the run-up to the prolonged Hollywood writers' strike earlier this year.
"We said it's how we envisage the show moving forward and we have no desire to relocate it,'' Mustos said, adding the network was fine with his decision.
Christina Jennings, executive producer of "The Listener'' -- about a young loner who can hear the thoughts of people around him -- was also determined to celebrate Toronto and not try to disguise it as an American city once it sold to NBC.
"We're showing the streetcars and the CN Tower and the beaches -- we're showing Toronto as Toronto, not as any other city,'' said Jennings, head of Shaftesbury Films.
Monday's fall launch from CTV was in stark contrast to previous years, when a parade of Hollywood stars came north to promote their shows to a Canadian audience.
Because of a potential strike by the Screen Actors' Guild in the weeks to come, many U.S. shows are currently in production and frantically trying to finish shooting in time for the fall. Luring stars to Canada likely would have proven difficult for CTV.
One CTV official said the private broadcaster made a conscious decision this year to celebrate its Canadian success stories, while Ivan Fecan, president and CEO of CTVglobemedia, said the private broadcaster intends to produce more Canadian shows.
"Our strategy is to originate more of our own programs, in order to better control our destiny,'' Fecan said in a release.
And so it was another "Corner Gas'' love-in, as the stars of the beloved sitcom kicked off the launch festivities to discuss the final season.
"We wanted the last season to be the best one ever,'' Brent Butt, creator and star of "Corner Gas,'' told a news conference. "I was tempted to do a major cash grab and do another season, but outside of a bank heist, it's never a good idea to do something just as a cash grab.''
Butt has another comedy pilot in the works for CTV, and added that a "Corner Gas'' film was a definite possibility.
"I would not be surprised if at some point in the future there's a `Corner Gas' movie -- it should come together,'' he said.
Also airing on CTV and its complementary A channel this fall:
- "So You Think You Can Dance Canada,'' the Canadian version of the hit international show;
- "Fringe,'' a sci-fi mystery/drama from J.J. Abrams of "Lost'' fame, starring Canadian actor Joshua Jackson;
- "Eleventh Hour,'' a drama from Jerry Bruckheimer about what happens when biology is placed in the wrong hands;
- "The Mentalist,'' about a man who uses his acute observational skills to solve crimes;
- "Star Wars: The Clone Wars,'' a new animated series.
American favourites like "Grey's Anatomy,'' "CSI: Miami'' and "Desperate Housewives'' are also returning to CTV.
Shows in development include the new Butt series and "The Marilyn Denis Show,'' a new daytime show airing on CTV and starring Gemini Award winner Marilyn Denis. On the A channel, there will be all-new season of "Canada's Next Top Model.''
The new projects join "Spectacle,'' the previously announced CTV music/talk series starring Elvis Costello, currently in production and set to premiere later this year.