Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Showcase hopes XIII its lucky number

Stuart Townsend is spy with no name XIII
Love interviewing the Irish. That gift of the gab makes my job that much easier.
Stuart Townsend is no exception. I spoke with the Howth, County Dublin, native on the phone late last week and flipped the conversation straight into a feature for The Toronto Star. You can read that story here.
Townsend is starring as a spy in search of his past in XII, which premieres Wednesday night at 10ET. The suspense thriller seems like the 13th Canadian-produced series in a row to emerge from specialty this month. Showcase in particular has been going nuts lately, pumping out new scripted shows faster than I can keep up with them. Maybe ACTRA can cut Shaw a break and picket some other network when Global hosts its annual upfront next June.
King premiered April 17 and stars Amy Price-Francis (The Cleaner) as a cop working Toronto's Major Crimes Task Force beat. Yes, another cop show. Gabe Hogan (The Kennedys, Rent-A-Goalie) plays officer King's third hubby, Tony Nardi her boss. The pilot seemed pretty seen-it-before and with Flashpoint and Rookie Blue on the beat, kill me now if somebody launches another Canadian cop show. Price-Francis, who paid her dues working virtually every scripted show shot in Canada in the past 10 years (including Train 48, Snakes and Ladders and Show Me Yours) has sass and sparkle which should enliven a drama with a bit of a dark comedy tone.
Hogan and Price-Francis star in Showcase's King
Shawn Doyle's Endgame (Mondays at 10ET) launched last month on Showcase. A new hospital drama, The Hot Zone (starring Elias Korteas and Michelle Borth), is in production in Toronto.
Other prominent Canadian-produced (or co-produced) specialty series launched in recent weeks include The Borgias (Bravo!), Wipeout Canada (TVTropolis), The Kennedys (History Television), Canadian Pickers (History) and Top Chef Canada (Food Network). After some pretty aggressive marketing and promotion, all seemed to jump out to fast starts but there was steep second and third week fall offs in a crowded and competitive field. Some, like The Borgias and The Kennedys, seem to cry out for a CTV and Global window.
Smart launching them all opposite the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, though. If you're not into the games, here's some brand new, Canadian, counter programming.
Townsend joked on the phone about shooting a series set largely in France in Toronto in the winter. He noticed even the crew was grumbling about the snow as it kept coming down in January, February and March.
He met Seth Green a few years ago while the two were shooting The Best Man. Green talked him into providing voice overs for his fearlessly adolescent animated comedy Robot Chicken. What does the Irish native get to play? The Lucky Charms leprechaun as a raging alcoholic. "To me, it's a dream come true," joked Townsend. "Career highlight for sure."
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