Platinum gets `authenticity’ boost from Sir George

Montreal: ‘I’ve been involved in the drama of the record business now for many, many years, and a lot of it is stranger than fiction. The material is incredible. It will make a great television series.’

Happy words of encouragement indeed for the producers of Platinum from the highly qualified and genuinely gracious Sir George Martin, one of the most respected figures in the international music and recording industry, and of course, the producer of all but one of The Beatles’ albums.

Martin and son Giles, a talented musician and producer in his own right, were in Montreal last week auditioning the primary Canadian and u.s. singing roles for Platinum, the $20 million Prisma Productions 13-hour tv series and tv movie special set in the special world of the pop recording and showbiz industry.

Martin’s input on Platinum extends well beyond the music and casting of the main roles. That is happening in three cities, Montreal, Toronto and London, Eng.

And while he’s written and arranged a love theme for the series’ all-original music and performance track, he is also playing an active role as a script consultant.

Platinum tells the story of the personalities and artists tied to a hot Montreal recording label, Platinum Inc.

The movie special and series will be shot on location in Montreal (in and around the boul. St-Laurent area) starting in April 1997, with Toronto’s Bruce McDonald, director of the critically acclaimed Hard Core Logo, set to write and direct on the opening tv movie special, and perhaps several episodes.

Prisma president Claude Godbout, Platinum’s producer, has assembled a rather impressive creative and producing team.

Martin was brought in via star stage impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber and Webber’s Really Useful Picture Company, the show’s British coproducer.

Writer Leopold St-Pierre has prepared the series’ bible. Paul Rysacher is one of a half-dozen writers soon to be hired, and talks are well underway with actor Paul Gross (Due South) for the series’ leading role. Gross’ popularity in Europe is just icing on the cake.

Martin, 70, and officially retired, says he’s drawn to the project because it’s clearly a subject he knows – after four decades in the business – and because it’s never really been done before.

He wants very much for the series to succeed, and to do so it must have a gritty cinema verite style.

‘Simplicity and authenticity are the most important things,’ he says. ‘Authenticity is my hobby horse, extreme credibility. The audience should not be underestimated.’

St-Pierre states the obvious: ‘The prospects for the show’s music are excellent; there’s a timeless quality to many of (Martin’s) projects.’

Giles Martin heads up a u.k. band called Velvet Jones and has also written several tunes for Platinum.

Martin et al’s immediate task is to find four or five very talented performers for Platinum’s principal characters – Simon, the brilliant head of the label, a female recording star with a dark destiny, a Jim Morrison type, a hugely successful mor-style male recording artist who’s hell to be with when not surrounded by adoring fans, a cool-headed company lawyer, and a bouncy, sex-kitten sort who’s genuine musical potential may not be the point.

St-Pierre says as many as two dozen prominent Canadian recording artists will make cameo appearances and a compilation Platinum soundtrack album will be issued.

Broadcast presales include Showtime in the u.s and RTL 2 (via Entertainment Council) in Germany. Two Canadian broadcasters are in the running which is expected to reach the sprint stage within days.

Godbout says Telefilm Canada will be invited to sign on once the licence issue is settled, and he’s currently looking at extending production beyond 13 hours for the multiple-camera 16mm shoot.

Martin operates a major recording facility in London. Last year, Air Studios recorded the music for some 26 feature films.

He has just completed work on the third and final installment of the hugely popular Beatles’ Anthology. He says the experience was both happy and disturbing (‘watching and listening to conversations between John and myself’) and is his definitive sign-off from the epoch-making journey that was the Fab Four.

In addition to Platinum, a 67% majority Canadian series, Prisma’s film slate in ’96/97 includes season two of the $10.2 million medical drama Urgence, Le Masque, a $3.2 million, four-hour miniseries for Television Quatre Saisons, and Paparazzi, a 13-hour, $10 million series for Tele-Metropole. The latter two were penned by Fabienne Larouche and Rejean Tremblay.