Yo, Canucks! There’s now room for you at the top of the U.S. TV writing tree!

Yeah, that’s a bullshit, condescending headline. We apologize for the ‘tude, but our parent company is heavily into that sort of thing and made us do it.

Oh, wait, we don’t have a parent company. How about this: The headline’s a placeholder. We’re coming back to change it before this article is published. Absolutely. We swear–

BITTEN is an interesting series idea, no?

TV shows like Orphan Black signal rise of the Canadian showrunner
by Tony Wong

One summer morning, Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern woke up abruptly to their clock radio blaring news about a hostage taking at Toronto’s Union Station.

They went downstairs to watch the drama unfold on television. After a tense standoff, and much to the horror of bystanders, the assailant was shot by an emergency task force officer.

“It was really a shock seeing this in real time. And one question that went through our minds was, what was it like for the police officer who took that shot? What’s the rest of his day going to be like?” Ellis says in an interview.

That moment translated into one of Canada’s most successful TV exports, Flashpoint. The show ran for five seasons on CTV and was licensed in more than 100 territories globally.

It also kick-started a new-found confidence from Canadian TV producers that their stories could not only have broad appeal but also make a pile of money. Finally, Canada could offer the kind of slick, pyrotechnic police procedural that was on par or better than its Hollywood counterparts. Perhaps more importantly, Ellis and Morgenstern helped to birth a new generation of screenwriters who wanted to produce their own stories, also known as “showrunners.”

The new “golden age” of television is due in large part to the increasing prominence of the writer as the creative executive on television shows; the person ultimately responsible for that singular, passionate vision.

Already 2014 has been shaping up to be something of a breakout year for Canadian TV.

The lineup includes Vancouverite Daegan Fryklind’s Bitten, the Toronto-shot werewolf thriller starring Laura Vandervoort (Smallville’s Supergirl) on Space channel. It is joined by Greg Spottiswood’s well-received hospital drama Remedy on Global. And Season 2 of Graeme Manson’s Toronto-produced science fiction thriller Orphan Blackpremiered Saturday after winning 10 Canadian Screen Awards for the first season.

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2 thoughts on “Yo, Canucks! There’s now room for you at the top of the U.S. TV writing tree!”

  1. This is interesting since I was told (in person) a few years ago by a Canadian TV Director that I (as an American) would never be allowed to run a show in Canada. Despite the fact he loved my project. More one-way streets = less congestion? I guess?

    1. I’ve had my own problems re working in Canadian TV. When a series I helped create ended up being produced by the CBC all the U.S. writers were expunged, names removed from our work, etc. Canadian content, um, “ruled.”



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