The Jane Show, take two

The first full season of sitcom hopeful The Jane Show is expected to re-debut on Global within the year - again with creator and comic Teresa Pavlinek in the lead, but with almost none of the supporting cast seen in the 2005 pilot.
Only Pavlinek and Kate Trotter ­- who plays boss to her befuddled, office-bound single-gal-in-the-city, Jane Black - survived the yearlong retooling process, says producer Adam Haight of Toronto's Shaftesbury Films.

The first full season of sitcom hopeful The Jane Show is expected to re-debut on Global within the year – again with creator and comic Teresa Pavlinek in the lead, but with almost none of the supporting cast seen in the 2005 pilot.

Only Pavlinek and Kate Trotter ­- who plays boss to her befuddled, office-bound single-gal-in-the-city, Jane Black – survived the yearlong retooling process, says producer Adam Haight of Toronto’s Shaftesbury Films.

‘We did some focus groups and [got] some feedback… looking at the world we want to set it in and retooling the characters,’ he says. ‘But basically, at the center of it, it’s still led by this character that Teresa has done for many years as a stand-up comic.’

Stepping in are new cast members Darren Boyd (The Jury) as a British-born straight man, Patricia Zentilli (Touch & Go) in the best-friend role and Hardee Lineham (Top of the Food Chain) as the middle-aged worrywart ‘Willy Loman of the office.’

Global developed and aired a Jane pilot in January 2005 as part of a push to turn out more scripted programming. That same push also led to the un-shelving of Falcon Beach, which made its series debut on Jan. 5, again after a year of retooling.

Haight, previously an exec at Global, followed Jane to his current post at Shaftesbury.

A 13 x 30 season is now partway through shooting in Toronto under directors George Bloomfield (Due South, Wild Card), T.W. Peacocke (Made in Canada) and Craig Pryce.

‘We kept with a small roster to work with the ensemble cast,’ says Haight. ‘George came in and worked a lot with the cast… just to get the characters to know each other and put the scenes on their feet before we shot them.’

Pavlinek and Ralph Chapman write the show with Sheri Elwood (15/Love) and Alex Pugsley (The Eleventh Hour), and exec produce with Shaftesbury’s Christina Jennings and Scott Garvie. Haight produces with Shauna Jamison.

Jane arrives at a busy time for Global, now well into an aggressive campaign to make ratings gains on CTV. The net is preparing to relaunch its brand on Feb. 5 – a ‘greater than’ symbol replacing its red-on-black crescent moon logo – and will move its Global National newscast to 5:30 p.m., across the country, on Feb. 6.

Last week, amid a great blast of fanfare, the network also unveiled its long-gestating fun-in-the-sun drama Falcon Beach.

Jane and Falcon Beach both came out of Global Labs, the net’s loosely organized effort to turn out more domestic shows. Labs fell apart amid the revolving-door management changes at the net in 2005, and development is now under the command of VP of original programming Christine Shipton.

The former Alliance Atlantis and Blueprint Entertainment exec says she’s had ‘a very heavy hand’ in developing scripted shows for Global and its sister net CH since coming on board in June. CanWest MediaWorks, the parent of both networks, has about eight half-hour comedies and 10 one-hour dramas in development right now, she says, and plans to pilot two more comedies within the year.

CanWest is trying to shake off its reputation as a reluctant supporter of domestic shows.

‘We have a very active development plate right now… We’ll make a lot of decisions at the end of January, beginning of February,’ she says, adding that the nets may be especially busy in British Columbia.

‘Our goal is to commission a lot in the next two to three years.’

Like The Jane Show, Falcon Beach was also reworked after its pilot aired in 2005. The former teen project has been tweaked to appeal to both kids and their parents, says Shipton. The relaunch enjoyed an extraordinarily big push from CanWest’s marketing team, including extensive on-air, print and theater ads.

Another project developed by Global Labs, the reality-ish car renovation show War of the Wheels by Toronto’s Breakthrough Films & Television, is set to debut on Global and Prime in the spring.

An airdate for Jane has not been set. The show is distributed by Shaftesbury Sales Company in North America and in the rest of the world by Content Film International.