CBS snaps up Flashpoint

Will more made-in-Canada fare be grabbed by programming-starved US networks, as has been speculated during the prolonged writers' strike?

In the first Canadian drama sale to a US network in 14 years, CBS has bought a made-in-Canada cop series for its prime-time schedule. CBS Paramount Network Television announced yesterday it has acquired 13 episodes of Flashpoint, a CTV drama set for production in April, and slotted to air on both CBS and CTV this summer.

‘The writer’s room is all Canadian, It’s Canadian-produced. There are no WGA issues. And this is the first time that a Canadian-developed original series has aired on a big four network since Due South,’ says Susanne Boyce, CTV president of creative, content and channels.

Flashpoint was originally developed as a police drama in 2005 with financing from CTV’s benefits package following the takeover by BCE. The series was previously known as Sniper and, during its pilot phase, as Critical Incident. CTV greenlit a first season of Flashpoint in December. But the pitch to CBS came from Peter Sussman, who co-produced the lucrative CSI franchise with CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer while at Alliance Atlantis.

Sussman has apparently repaid CBS by bringing it a strike-proof series the drama-starved network can plug into its prime-time schedule in place of reality TV series and re-runs during the current Hollywood labour strife.

Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada, evidently eager to convey that Canadian writers are not breaching WGA strike rules: ‘This is not a show for the American marketplace. It’s made for the Canadian marketplace.’

Terms of the deal between CTV, CBS and the Flashpoint producers were not disclosed. But the US network is essentially coming on board the Canadian project at the financing stage, where its financial exposure can be limited.

The CTV drama has an all-Canadian cast, led by Enrico Colantoni (ZOS: Zone of Separation), Hugh Dillon (Durham County) and David Paetkau (Whistler). The trio portray hardened cops on a special tactical team that puts an end to hostage and bomb incidents or attempted suicides, for example, by getting into the minds of suspects to defuse a crisis.

The Flashpoint sale caps off a busy NATPE for Canadian producers as they look to fill prime-time gaps for U.S. networks. British distributor Fireworks International is showcasing CBC’s The Border for US networks. Peter Raymont, who is exec producing the border patrol drama, says the short list for his series is down to CBS and ABC, with USA Network and Turner Broadcasting also in the running. As well, execs at Toronto’s Shaftesbury Films, who are shopping Murdoch Mysteries and Life With Derek stateside, report they are within days of signing a deal with a major US network.

From Playback Daily