Wertheimer revs Motor City

Making Across the River to Motor City posed several problems, according to creator and showrunner Bob Wertheimer - due mainly to its multiple storylines that take place in two different time periods in cities on opposite sides of the Canada/U.S. border.

Making Across the River to Motor City posed several problems, according to creator and showrunner Bob Wertheimer – due mainly to its multiple storylines that take place in two different time periods in cities on opposite sides of the Canada/U.S. border.

Hard to shoot on a limited budget, even after 49 pages were cut from the 6 x 60 script. But it was easy compared to what he went through making Charlie Jade.

‘After what happened to me in Africa… nothing that happened here would be too difficult,’ says Wertheimer.

The series look similar on paper. Charlie Jade, which shot in South Africa amid problems with financiers and writers, criss-crossed through three parallel universes during its one-season run on Space, while Motor City will alternate between the 1960s and present day, unveiling mysteries linked to the Kennedy assassination.

It is slated for CHUM stations for 2007/08 and wrapped its two-month shoot earlier this month.

‘What I try to do is stuff that doesn’t look American or Canadian, but that looks like unusual TV,’ says Wertheimer. The series invokes the days when Windsor and Detroit enjoyed a greater sense of community, despite the border, and is meant to put forward a less isolated, less inward-looking view of Canada, he says.

‘The key to Across the River was to recognize that Canada and the U.S. are neighbors, and to recognize that Canada plays a role in the world that isn’t exclusively limited to hockey.’

Wertheimer cowrote and cocreated the series with Denis McGrath (Skyland, Charlie Jade) and exec produces through his Jonsworth Productions, joined by Richard Mozer and David Devine of Devine Entertainment.

Director Michael DeCarlo (Hemingway vs. Callaghan) and DOP David Greene (Siblings) shot 90% of the series in Hamilton and Toronto on a mix of locations and stages, with a budget of just over $1 million per episode. Big-ticket items were cut from the budget because they couldn’t be amortized over the short, six-episode run.

‘We couldn’t afford traditional sets, storage, risers, flats and walls. That’s why we took to existing locations and sets and modified them so we got the most production value on the screen,’ says Wertheimer, tipping his hat to production designer Rocco Matteo (Shania: A Life in Eight Albums).

CHUM has an option to order another 13 hours, however, which could see Wertheimer and company back at work by summer or fall 2007.

Across the River stars Sasha Roiz (Jeff Ltd.), David Fox (Northern Town) Anne Openshaw (Stargate: Atlantis) and Peter Stebbings (Kardia).