Showtime praises longtime partner

The relationship between New York-based Showtime Networks and Dufferin Gate has lasted 10 years, and is built on a more solid foundation than many marriages. According to Michael Rauch, Showtime's EVP of motion picture production, the ongoing partnership has been based largely on trust.

The relationship between New York-based Showtime Networks and Dufferin Gate has lasted 10 years, and is built on a more solid foundation than many marriages. According to Michael Rauch, Showtime’s EVP of motion picture production, the ongoing partnership has been based largely on trust.

‘Patrick Whitley has a reputation for being honest and incredibly reasonable,’ Rauch explains. ‘Even if you’re on the other side of the negotiating table from him, you feel that he’s always being fair.’

It was these qualities, combined with Whitley’s production experience, that motivated Showtime to select him as one of their key service producers a decade ago. ‘We had decided to air an original movie nearly every week, which meant that we had 30 films in production,’ Rauch says. ‘Having done a few movies in Canada, we decided that it would be wise to send some of this work up there. After meeting with a number of people, we chose Patrick – who had already worked for us as a line producer – because he was simply the best candidate.’

It was the Showtime partnership that motivated Whitley to launch Dufferin Gate. The first film it produced for the U.S. cable network was Mrs. Munck (1994), starring Diane Ladd (who also cowrote and directed), her real-life ex Bruce Dern, and Shelley Winters. Mrs. Munck tells the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?-like story of a woman (Ladd) who had been jilted by a cad (Dern) years before, but he ends up in a wheelchair and in her care, and vengeful mayhem ensues.

Since then, Dufferin Gate has produced more than 100 movies for Showtime. Two made through Temple Street Productions, Dufferin’s sister, have won Daytime Emmys for outstanding children’s special: In His Father’s Shoes (1997), starring Louis Gossett Jr; and Summer’s End (1999), starring James Earl Jones.

But Showtime’s volume of MOW production has fallen off dramatically in recent years. It sent more than 20 movies to Dufferin Gate in 1999, but last year that number dwindled to only two: Cavedweller, starring Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon; and D.C. 9/11: The Big Dance, with Timothy Bottoms. While global demand for MOWs has declined, nets are trying to make them bigger events. Rauch says that the average Showtime MOW budget has risen in recent years from US$4 million to US$8 million.

Meanwhile, Queer as Folk, which is produced by Dufferin Gate’s sister company Temple Street Productions and licensed by Showtime, ‘is our second highest-rated show and is now entering its fifth season,’ says Rauch. ‘Russell T. Davies, the U.K. creator of Queer as Folk, has seen the North American show and thinks it is as good as the original.’

Moreover, Showtime enjoys collaborating with Whitley because he doesn’t create headaches for his partners.

‘Working with Patrick, we’ve never had any issues with the unions, and we’ve never been burned on getting locations because someone in Toronto is mad at us,’ says Rauch. ‘There seems to be a kind of unanimity among people who work at and with Dufferin Gate, and it results in a stability that makes our lives much easier.’