Walker, Romain add Weight to pay-TV drama

New drama series The Weight, created by This Is Wonderland team George F. Walker and Dani Romain, brings emotional tales of Toronto suburb to The Movie Network and Movie Central

Filming of The Weight, a new 8 x 60 drama about life in a suburban wasteland from powerhouse writers George F. Walker and Dani Romain, has begun in the Scarborough suburb of Toronto.

With a budget of $1.3 million per ep, and 84 actors — 30 of which are mains — the production is expected to wrap Nov. 2.

Produced by The Nightingale Company, The Weight is directed by Gail Harvey (Some Things That Stay). Norman Denver (Show Me Yours) produces, Peter Benison is DOP, and Paul Day is editor.

The tragicomic world of The Weight imagined by renowned playwright Walker and Romain — who collaborated on the CBC series This Is Wonderland — is populated with characters that are raw, damaged, funny and real.

‘George and I took drives along Kingston Road [in Scarborough] and became interested in the area,’ says Romain of the impetus for the show. ‘Scarborough has two faces. It has beautiful houses overlooking the bluffs, and then some low-income areas with gangs.’

And while the plot centers on two cops — played by Ron White (Screamers) and Daniel Kash (Fugitive Pieces) — this emotional roller-coaster is anything but a police show. In fact, there’s no investigating at all.

‘[The Weight] is about personal response to problems in the area, and the families involved. This is a totally different take on the cop show. It’s personal reactions to incidents,’ says Romain. ‘These characters don’t judge — they’re just trying to deal.’

The Weight was embraced by Movie Central and The Movie Network from the get-go, and is expected to air in the fall of 2008.

‘George and Dani fit well with TMN and MC’s vision of providing quality, unique programming,’ says Debbie Nightingale, president of The Nightingale Company (Chicks with Sticks) and an exec producer on the project. ‘They ordered three scripts and were so blown away they said ‘write five more.”

Described by Walker as a visual novel, Nightingale sees the production as ‘more than episodic — it’s like a big movie. The over-arching storyline exists, but it is secondary to the lives of the characters.’

The ensemble cast also includes Linda Hamilton of the Terminator movie franchise as Carol, a woman on the run, with Clé Bennett and Shawn Singleton (both of Doomstown), Wes Williams (Instant Star) and Von Flores (Degrassi: The Next Generation) also on board.

‘I think people will be surprised by how much they come to care about certain characters,’ says Romain.

Nightingale agrees. ‘Viewers will be surprised by where the characters take them,’ she says. ‘We really create a world of layers here.’