Tele-Action delivers CBC/SRC biker drama The Last Chapter

Montreal's: Productions Tele-Action's The Last Chapter is set in the violent and double-dealing world of outlaw biker gangs and is an original six-hour double-shoot, with broadcast set for March on both Radio-Canada and CBC. It is filming over 75 days on location in Montreal and Toronto from July 30 to Nov. 19
Screenwriter Luc Dionne's (Omerta) tale chronicles the expansion of The Triple Sixers biker gang. The gang's domain stretches from Halifax to Vancouver, with one important omission - no chapters in the lucrative Ontario market.
Leading players include Michael Ironside and Roy Dupuis as gang leaders and longtime friends, Marina Orsini, Celine Bonnier, Dan Bigras, veteran actor Michel Forget as a detective specialized in criminal gangs, and Dom Fiore as the mob godfather.

Montreal’s: Productions Tele-Action’s The Last Chapter is set in the violent and double-dealing world of outlaw biker gangs and is an original six-hour double-shoot, with broadcast set for March on both Radio-Canada and CBC. It is filming over 75 days on location in Montreal and Toronto from July 30 to Nov. 19

Screenwriter Luc Dionne’s (Omerta) tale chronicles the expansion of The Triple Sixers biker gang. The gang’s domain stretches from Halifax to Vancouver, with one important omission – no chapters in the lucrative Ontario market.

Leading players include Michael Ironside and Roy Dupuis as gang leaders and longtime friends, Marina Orsini, Celine Bonnier, Dan Bigras, veteran actor Michel Forget as a detective specialized in criminal gangs, and Dom Fiore as the mob godfather.

Tele-Action producer Claudio Luca says the additional six hours derived from the double-shoot cost about 30% more than a normal series shoot. ‘What we save is in locations, set dressings, on costumes and shooting time, too.’ The budget is $9.5 million.

DOP Marc Charlebois originated on Super 16mm. Raymond Dupuis is art director. The sound package is by Daniel Vermette. Covitec/Technicolor is handling lab duties and post is by Vision Globale.

Luca is among the public network’s preferred drama suppliers, earlier producing Big Bear and The Boys of St. Vincent. SRC commissioned Tel-Action’s Les Orphelins de Duplessis.

Funding on The Last Chapter/Le Dernier Chapitre comes from Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Television Fund. International sales director Claudette Poulin of Distribution Cine Tele Action introduced the series at MIPCOM last month.

Lyla acquires film rights

Lyla Films has acquired the film rights to Gil Courtemanche’s award-winning novel of genocide in Rwanda, Un dimanche a la piscine a Kigali, published by Editions Boreal. Director Robert Favreau (Les Muses Orphelins, L’Ombre de l’Epervier) and Courtemanche are sharing screenwriting duties. The producers are Lyse Lafontaine (Leolo) and Pierre Latour.

Random Canada is preparing an English translation of Courtemanche’s novel.

Latour’s distrib company Film Tonic distributed two recent Lyla productions, the feature Les Muses Orphelines and the bio doc Lauzon Lauzone, directed by Louis Belanger and Isabelle Hebert.

Rolling at Cineflix

In news from Cineflix, producer Glen Salzman says there’s keen interest from NatGeo International in a new round of 26 episodes of Dogs with Jobs, effectively seasons four and five. The show is a homegrown success, with half the financing from international sources.

Andre Barro is exec producing the third season of Dogs, which wraps in mid-December, and he is producing the Internet dating series e-love, which airs on WTN in April 2002.

Barro is also guiding early research and writing on a new series called Mayday, six one-hours on the science of aeronautic technology and air safety through the recreation and investigation of near misses and major crashes. Discovery Canada, Canal D and France’s La Cinquieme have expressed interest.

The Toronto office of Cineflix is slated to go into production in January on High Risk Pregnancy: SPU, six half-hours of real-life drama about an amazing medical team for Discovery Health Canada and Life Network. David York is exec producer.

At MIPCOM, Salzman pitched a format coproduction proposal for e-love to French and Spanish interests. It’s budgeted at close to $140,000 an episode and was picked up by Oxygen Media in the U.S., with commissioning talks underway with three U.K. broadcasters. The show is part of the online menu at the match.com website. Salzman met with execs from AOL Time Warner at the market. The American media giant has ties to both Oxygen and match.com.

‘We’re looking for shows which travel in more than one market, Canada, the U.S. and one major European market,’ says Salzman.

Walker, Picard star in Savage Messiah

Savage Messiah, a powerful psychological TV movie about a small-town social worker who brings a diabolical cult leader to justice, began principal photography in and around Montreal Oct. 29, filming through to Nov. 21. The murderous cult leader in question is Roch Theriault, who presided over a rural 1980s commune that included his eight wives and 26 children.

The screenplay is by Sharon Riis (The Wake, Loyalties, Revenge of the Land), adapted from the book Savage Messiah by investigative journalists Paul Kaihla and Ross Laver.

U.K. actor Polly Walker stars as the heroic social worker and Luc Picard plays Theriault. Also starring are Pascale Montpetit, Isabelle Blais and Domini Blythe. Director is Mario Azzopardi, who earlier this season directed the Muse Entertainment TV movie The Stork Derby for Citytv, CBC and Fremantle International.

Savage Messiah is a Showcase Original Movie, which will debut on pay-TV networks The Movie Network and Movie Central (formerly Superchannel) in English, and on specialty channel Series+ in French.

It is packaged as a Quebec/Ontario/ U.K. coproduction with German gap financing. Michael Prupas of Montreal’s Muse and Jamie Brown of Studio 8 in the U.K. are exec producers. Bernard Zukerman of Toronto’s Indian Grove is producing.

Muse Distribution International is handling world sales.

Muse, Voice Pictures of Calgary and Studio 8 recently wrapped the $4.4-million Canada/U.K. coproduction The Investigation, writer Bruce Smith’s chilling story of the bungled RCMP investigation into the Clifford Olson murders.

The Investigation is a CTV Signature Presentation movie directed by Anne Wheeler and exec produced by Wendy Hill-Tout and Prupas, with Zukerman producing.

The ace investigating duo of Matt Frewer and Kenneth Welsh reprise in the fourth installment of Muse’s Sherlock Holmes TV movie collection, The Case of the WhiteChapel Vampire.

It films here from Nov. 26 to Dec. 22 under director Rodney Gibbons, who also wrote the ‘non-canon’ script. Another entry, The Royal Scandal, airs on CTV in early Jan.

The Case of the WhiteChapel Vampire is distributed internationally by Hallmark Channel.

Also shooting in the Montreal region is the Muse service production Kart Racer. It wraps Nov. 28. It’s a dad-son relationship and racing movie for exec producers Leif Bristow of Knightscove and Robert Schwartz of Wardencliff. Irene Litinsky is producing.

Stuart Gillard is directing the $9-million movie, starring Randy Quaid and youthful talents William Rothhaar, Amanda De Martinis and Joe Dinicol.

Bliss anthology wraps

Galafilm and Toronto’s Back Alley Films wrapped principal photography Nov. 1 after 32 days on the highly charged erotic anthology series Bliss. An official Quebec/Ontario coproduction developed as a Showcase Original Series, Bliss explores the lives, passions and fantasies of women exclusively from a female perspective. The series preems next spring on The Movie Network and Super Ecran and on Movie Central. It will also air on Series +.

‘Showcase was in at the initial stage of development. They were the first to come in and have been very involved creatively with this project,’ says Janis Lundman, who cocreated the show and is exec producing with partner Adrienne Mitchell (Drop the Beat, Talk 16) and Arnie Gelbart. Galafilm’s Ian Whitehead is producing. Lundman says Showcase has 14 different viewer advisories to choose from, ‘but we haven’t got to that point yet.’

The opening episode, ‘In Praise of Drunkenness and Fornication,’ stars Quebec pop star and music producer Mitsou and veteran actor Daniel Pilon. Canadian actors Adam Beach and Tory Higginson (The City) are featured in subsequent episodes.

Directors include Mitchell, Penelope Buitenhuis, Sylvie Rosenthal, Holly Dale and Lynne Stopkewich. Screenwriters are the busy Sharon Riis and exec story editor Laurie Finstad. The producers optioned short stories by Carol Lazare and Susan Musgrave for the series.

Lundman says there’s talk of a second season order and potential coproduction interest in France and the U.K.

Bliss was shot in DV PAL format by DOP Stevan Ivanov. Investors in the $4.1-million coproduction include Telefilm Canada and the CTF Licence Fee Program.

In other news, Galafilm producer Francine Allaire and Randy Bradshaw of Alberta Filmworks wrap filming at the end of the month on Michel Poulette’s Agent of Influence, the story of Canadian diplomat John Watkins who becomes a victim of Cold War bloodymindedness. It stars Christopher Plummer and Marina Orsini. It’s commissioned by CTV and is based on the Ian Adams book Portrait of a Spy.

Allaire and Gelbart are exec producers on the new Lea Pool family adventure movie Mariposa Azul. It’s in casting, with shooting slated to start in January 2002.