AAC, BBC join forces on Ace Lightning

Alliane Atlantis and BBC have clinched the beginning of their ongoing production relationship with the official Canada/U.K. coproduction of Ace Lightning and the Carnival of Doom, shooting in Toronto June 23 to Nov. 22.
A 26-part, half-hour series that combines live action with CGI, Ace follows the adventures of a 13-year-old boy whose house is struck by lightning while he's playing his favorite video game, Ace Lightning. Just then the characters in the game are brought to life and the intermingling of live action and CGI characters begins.
Jim Corston (Longhouse Tales) is producing the series, with BBC's Rick Siggelkow exec producing.

Alliane Atlantis and BBC have clinched the beginning of their ongoing production relationship with the official Canada/U.K. coproduction of Ace Lightning and the Carnival of Doom, shooting in Toronto June 23 to Nov. 22.

A 26-part, half-hour series that combines live action with CGI, Ace follows the adventures of a 13-year-old boy whose house is struck by lightning while he’s playing his favorite video game, Ace Lightning. Just then the characters in the game are brought to life and the intermingling of live action and CGI characters begins.

Jim Corston (Longhouse Tales) is producing the series, with BBC’s Rick Siggelkow exec producing.

Directors include Canadians Gail Harvey (Paradise Falls) and Steve Wright (Longhouse Tales), and British talents Graeme Lynch (Animorphs), Anthony Brown, Don McCutcheon (In a Heartbeat) and Giles Walker (The Neverending Story).

Writers include Alan Grant (Archangel Thunderbird), Neil Richards (Starship Titanic), Jeff Biederman (The Famous Jett Jackson), Richard Clark (The Halfback of Notre Dame), Sean Kelly and Mark Leiren-Young.

AAC-owned Calibre Digital Pictures is handling the CGI.

Michael Riley (Power Play) is the voice for the CGI Ace Lightning. British actor Tom Wansley plays the lead along with costars Mark Minardi and Shadia Simmons (I Was a Sixth Grade Alien).

While AAC couldn’t confirm whether the series would air on its soon-to-be-launched BBC Kids digi-channel, the series is being produced for BBC, which holds world rights.

AAC has Canadian and U.S. rights.

Fireworks flies with Mutant X

Production is well underway in Toronto on Fireworks Entertainment’s latest sci-fi, action series Mutant X.

Bearing some striking similarities to X-Men, but with no association to the 20th Century Fox franchise, the one-hour series chronicles a group of human mutants fighting for their safety and freedom from the secret agency that used them many years earlier as test subjects for genetic experimentation.

After discovering the extraordinary and sometimes deadly powers of the mutated test subjects, the agency seeks to exploit them. The only hope for the mutants is to take refuge with Mutant X, a band of young mutants led by a mysterious leader.

Fireworks, in association with Tribune Entertainment and Marvel Studios, is shooting the 44-part series June 4 to Feb. 25, 2002 in studio at the Downsview Airforce Base with producer Jamie Paul Rock (La Femme Nikita) and a bevy of Canadian directors, including T.J. Scott (Xena) and John Cassar (La Femme Nikita).

John Shea stars in the series, along with Canadian actors Victoria Pratt (Cleopatra 2525), Victor Webster (Days of Our Lives), Forbes March (All My Children) and Lauren Lee Smith (Get Carter).

Howard Chaykin (The Flash) heads the series’ team of writers, which includes Mark Lisson (MacGyver), David L. Newman (The Sentinel) and Elizabeth Keyishian (Queen of Swords).

Spin Entertainment (Cyberworld) is handling F/X.

The series will premier with 22 episodes on Global Television in the fall. It has sold in at least 146 U.S. markets, likely airing on the WB Network, in which Tribune owns a minority interest.

Fireworks has international rights, with Tribune retaining the U.S.

Cambium rides into primetime dramatic series

Cambium Entertainment and coproducer Mirkin Creative are just months away from going to camera on The Ride, Cambium’s first foray into primetime dramatic series.

Budgeted at more than $1 million per ep, the 13-part, one-hour series spun off from the edgy MOW produced for Showtime last year, is a gritty, urban drama about life in Toronto from the perspective of a group of cabbies. Coproducer Arnie Zipursky says the show will not be as dark as the MOW and they are currently honing in on character development.

Coproducer Larry Mirkin, co-creator and exec story editor Paul Dreskin (writer for the original MOW) and David Barlow have written the first three scripts.

Yaphet Kotto (Homicide: Life on the Street), who was featured in the MOW, is returning to the series, but the rest of the cast is yet to be confirmed.

The original ensemble cast included the late Al Waxman, Ron White (Heart: The Marilyn Bell Story) and Rachael Crawford (Traders).

In other news, Cambium recently sealed a deal on the life story rights of Judy Feld Carr, a Toronto woman who, through clandestine operations, succeeded in single-handedly rescuing more than 3,000 persecuted Jews from Syria. The house has also optioned Harold Troper’s book The Ransomed of God, which tells Feld Carr’s courageous life story.

Most recently, Feld Carr, who received the Order of Canada, was recognized at the Simon Wisenthal Centre’s Annual Gala in Los Angeles, where she and actor Michael Douglas were honored for their humanitarian efforts.

Zipursky and Fern Levitt are producing the MOW, which will eventually be spun off into a documentary.

Finally, Cambium has optioned the Canadian book series Abby and Tess Pet Sitters by author Trina Wiebe.

In the four-book series, two sisters who live in an inner-city apartment building where pets are not allowed decide to start their own pet-sitting business. ‘It’s like a Home Alone meets The Babysitter’s Club,’ says Kate Horton, Cambium’s manager of development.

The books will be adapted into a 13-part, half-hour, live-action tween series.

Meantime, Cambium and coprod partner Catapult Productions’ Monster By Mistake is taking off in every direction. In addition to signing with YTV and Canal Famille (VRAK) for another 26 episodes (seasons 3 & 4), the producers have inked a deal with Stewart House Publishing for early chapter books, readers and board games. They’ve also signed with Danawares in Montreal for plush and beanies.

Bugs, animals and Wicca

Since Catalyst Entertainment took a 10% interest in RedCap Productions last year, the children’s and information programming producer has moved full-speed ahead with a slate of series that chronicle bug boys, animal rescues and travelling witches.

Heading into production is The Adventures of Bug Boy, a live-action/puppet series that follows nine-year-old Zack and his sidekick Alicia as they weave in and out of his imaginary world, a primordial jungle where Zack becomes Bug Boy – the Indiana Jones of his make-believe insect universe.

Real bugs and icky latex puppets are being used.

Created by RedCap principal Kathilee Porter, produced by partner Paula Hughson and directed by Wayne Moss (Longhouse Tales), the 13-part, half-hour series, which is also being packaged as 26 x 12-minute episodes, is shooting in Toronto (Oasis Studios) July 30 to Sept. 14 for broadcast on TVOntario.

The series is budgeted at roughly $75,000 per ep.

With a first right of refusal on RedCap projects, Catalyst is distributing worldwide.

In production since April, Wild Rescue is a 13-part, half-hour documentary series that covers wild animal rescues and releases across Ontario.

Created by Porter and produced by Hughson for $250,000, the series is the first and only commission from Corus Entertainment’s soon-to-be-launched Discovery Kids Canada.

The series wraps mid-November and goes to air Sept. 4, 2002.

On the development slate, Dogback City, created by graphic artist Trevor Keen, is a traditionally animated, 13-part series about a dog and the bugs that live on him.

A broadcaster has yet to be attached, but Hughson says she’s talking with Teletoon.

Finally, The Kitchen Witch is a lifestyle/travel/cooking show, much in the vein of Catalyst’s Avventura, only it follows the travels of a kitchen witch as she learns about the Wiccan path.

Created by Hughson, the 13-part series will be shot all over North America next spring.

A broadcaster is not attached, but talks are underway with Life Network and WTN, says Hughson.

Meantime, Entrada, Catalyst’s Latin American follow-up to Avventura, is heading from Brazil to Puerto Rico, where it will wrap on Aug. 6.

The series started shooting in January and will begin airing on Prime in the fall. *