Tribune and Fireworks embark on Adventure Inc.

Although this summer will not match the year 2000′s production frenzy, shooting in Ontario is warming up with the arrival of the sunny season.

On the series front, Toronto’s Fireworks Entertainment, L.A.’s Tribune Entertainment, France’s M6 and Germany’s Tele-Munchen started rolling in early June at Toronto’s Cinespace Studios on Adventure Inc., a new one-hour action drama. Previous collaborations between Fireworks and Tribune include Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and Mutant X.

Adventure Inc. stars Michael Biehn (The Art of War, The Terminator) as a legendary explorer who heads up a team of thrill-seekers in Beauport, NC who take on any challenge that comes their way. Their various missions take them around the world, with future episodes to be shot in Marseilles, France, and the U.K. Cast also includes Quebec’s Karen Cliche (Galidor) and Jesse Nilsson (The Skulls).

Fireworks founder and CanWest Entertainment chairman and CEO Jay Firestone is executive producing with Fireworks president and COO Adam Haight; Gale Ann Hurd (The Terminator, The Hulk) is exec producing for Tribune. Wendy Grean (Company Man, Picture Claire) is producer. Season one will shoot through November.

According to Fireworks, the syndicated show, with the first of 22 eps airing in October, has been sold to more than 125 markets throughout the U.S. Global Television is the Canadian broadcaster. Budget is rumored to be $40 million.

Fireworks’ series Black Hole High, produced by Kevin May and Tony Thatcher and exec produced by Bruce Kalish, Firestone and Haight, is slated to go to camera July 15 for 10 weeks of production in Hamilton. The 13 half-hours for Discovery Kids reportedly follow five kids in the science club at Blake Holsey High School who try to solve the scientific mysteries and oddities that recur at their school. The show will debut on NBC Saturday mornings in the fall.

On a side note, Fireworks has recently launched its founder’s personal website at Opening with a spiffy Flash animation, it offers a ‘funstuff’ link with various features, including a pop-up window that asks screenwriters to submit unsolicited scripts; but don’t bother cutting and pasting your 120-page masterpiece, as it will only end up in a virtual trashcan. There is also a running counter of the number of phone calls Firestone hasn’t returned.

Fruitful times at Red Apple

Toronto’s Red Apple Entertainment has begun production on two new series it believes will have strong appeal to both Canadian and U.S. audiences.

Red Apple has dug into the vault of Canadiana and uncovered Thrill of a Lifetime, the 1980s series that granted extraordinary wishes to ordinary Canadians. The new series of 13 half-hours will focus exclusively on female guests, ‘granting thrills, chills and some downright guilty pleasures.’ The desires to dress like cast members from Sex and the City, go out on dream dates and embark on extreme sport adventures will all be fulfilled.

Stan Lipsey (The Surgeons) will produce, with Red Apple prez Tim O’Brien exec producing. The series will debut in the fall on W Network, and O’Brien calls the budget ‘expensive’ by W standards.

The prodco is also at work on two half-hours, to be packaged as a one-hour pilot, of Criminal Deception, to be broadcast on the U.S.’s Court TV. The factual series shows how master criminals pulled off all-time great felonies, combining straightforward documentary with dramatic reenactment. The first story concerns a notorious forger who bilked the Mormon Church out of millions; the second tracks the largest armed robbery in U.S. history, a 1997 heist in an L.A. armored-car warehouse.

Shooting has begun in various U.S. locations, with Cameron Rothery (Opening Soon) producing. So far, Rothery is on board to write the first episode, with Howie Wiseman to direct. Life Network has also purchased the first two episodes, which should be delivered in time for a September debut. If the series is picked up, O’Brien, the exec producer, anticipates a first season of 13 eps.

Red Apple’s doc series The Surgeons is returning for a second season on Discovery Health and Life. The 13 eps will continue to profile the work of some of Canada’s top surgeons.

The company is also producing a family comedy-drama MOW in New Zealand entitled One Wish, about a teenager who wishes his younger brother would disappear – and he does. The TV movie is for Disney Channel.

Liquid Soapz pours onto small screen

Electric Entertainment, the Toronto prodco behind Prime Business, Linehan and Jane Hawtin Live, has produced a one-hour TV pilot that sits somewhere between primetime soap and improv comedy. Liquid Soapz, the Toronto installment in the CBC’s regionally minded Trans Canada Comedy Trail series, debuts July 12. If it proves successful, Electric hopes to spin it off into a regular series of its own.

Adapted from Ian Ferguson’s Sin City stage show that played at Toronto’s Poor Alex and Tim Sims theatres, Liquid Soapz gives seven improvisers character roles set in a snooty club in a Canadian town. The performers are prompted offstage (seen by viewers) regarding situations and tone, and then are left to devise their own actions and dialogue, as well as contend with a surprise guest. The soap’s storyline would continue through future episodes.

Ferguson is on board as director, and Rob Nickerson produces. Paul Osborn, executive producer of the program and president and CEO of eNblast, Electric’s parent company, hopes Liquid Soapz will enjoy some of the success of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the Drew Carey-hosted U.S. improv show. Jane Hawtin, who not only hosts her own show but is prez of Electric, also exec produces.

Electric has delivered the pilot episode of The Power and Glory to Global. The biography-based program, which Electric also hopes to make into a 13-ep series, spotlights major Canadian entrepreneurs, the first subject being the Molson family.

The prodco has recently begun production on eight half-hours for season two of Road Scholars. The producers send teenage hosts armed with digital cameras to travel points around the world to record their adventures. The program appears in primetime on YTV.

Electric and Torstar Media Group are currently in negotiations with CBC on Living Cities, a doc series focusing on architecture in the world’s great metropolises. Toronto Star architectural columnist Christopher Hume would host the one-hour episodes. Well past the development phase is Havana Cool, a one-hour special featuring Canadian and Cuban jazz entertainers. Electric is finalizing the sponsorship component and plans to shoot in September, with eyes on a CBC airdate in November.

In other news, Electric has leased its former studio and broadcast facility to High School Television Network for one year, with the plan of HSTN owning it at that point. Electric and eNblast have relocated to a new office with production and post space on King Street East.

Radke opens long-form division

Toronto’s Radke Films, one of Canada’s major commercial production companies for the last 10 years, has announced the launch of its new features and special projects division. The new department is looking to develop and produce feature films, TV series, broadcast specials and new media projects. Radke producer Chris Nanos calls the expansion ‘a reaction to where business is right now,’ although the prodco is not moving away from its core business.

Rather than opening its doors to accept screenplays, Radke president Edie Weiss, partner and executive producer Scott Mackenzie and Nanos are going after the people they want to work with. The first project on the prodco’s development slate is the comedy Everything’s Gone Green, the first script written directly for the screen by Vancouver’s Douglas Coupland (Generation X). Nanos says the script is in a universal key and should generate international interest.

Radke has also optioned The Fuck-Up, a novel by New Yorker Arthur Nersesian published by MTV Books. A cult favorite that reportedly enjoyed 15 printings, the darkly humorous novel follows a nameless couch-surfing slacker on his misadventures in 1980s NYC.

Nanos says Radke has not decided whether directors on its commercial roster or outside hires would helm these projects. He hints that Radke’s financial model will probably incorporate copro partners from outside of Canada. In terms of the budgets of these productions, Nanos says they would be ‘big enough where we want people to see them, and small enough where we could actually manage and handle them.’