Three Canuck series headed for US

Largely because of pilot shortages caused by the writers' strike, The Listener, The Border and Sophie have been scooped up by American networks.

In the second recent US network deal for Canadian indie producers, NBC has bought 13 episodes of CTV’s upcoming drama series The Listener.

The NBC deal follows last week’s acquisition by CBS of Flashpoint, which is also slated for CTV. Other deals in the works as drama-starved American broadcasters gorge on strike-proof Canadian series involve CBS and ABC – understood to be in the running to acquire CBC’s The Border (pictured). Meanwhile, ABC Family has bought 13 episodes of the new CBC comedy Sophie.

Significantly for the Canadian industry, the deals for The Listener and Flashpoint, and possible deals for The Border and Sophie, result from first-time ventures by Canadian broadcasters into pilot production, just as the US networks are getting out of that expensive game.

The consensus is that the ground has shifted as US networks look to pick up Canadian dramas which are considered ripe for an American audience and can air on both sides of the border. Canadian producers that have long made shows for US cable channels are seen to be well positioned to help American networks with their drama needs as they compete with HBO and Showtime.

‘Canada is ready for the big time,’ says ACTRA national executive Stephen Waddell. ‘If you look at the [Canadian] programs that are being produced now, they’re interesting, they’re innovative, they bring a new perspective.’

From Playback Daily