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Beautiful fishbowl



New series will bring Whistler grit and glitz to television

That it will never come again, is what makes life so sweet.

— Emily Dickinson, poem

By Nancy Hyndman

A beautiful fishbowl, swimming with characters, to watch from the outside looking in.

Whistler Stories is a new television documentary series that begins shooting this month and continues through April, 2002.

The show will air as 13 half-hour segments on Alliance Atlantis’ Life Network, as part of the umbrella series Real Life. Slated for release in 2003, Whistler Stories is a concept from producer Stan Feingold.

"There’s an element of giving people the opportunity to look into an environment different than their own. Documentary lets you experience and understand lifestyles that may be vastly different from your own, and in some ways this will be like a Whistler soap opera," says Feingold, whose past experience includes producer for online programs at E! Entertainment Online and Bravo, the Canadian film channel.

Feingold brings experience as a writer, musician, and years of living in L.A. to Whistler Stories, which enables him to keep things fresh.

A SFU graduate with a MA from UBC in Renaissance Studies, Feingold is president of the Capilano College Foundation and taught music from 1979 through 1989.

The series producers take a serious approach to what they see as an unusual Canadian existence. Whistler is a playing field that has been described by locals as a "Disney wonderland," "sweet" and "phat," and of course, simply as "home." Whistler Stories includes ups and downs on the road to success.

"We don’t necessarily envision a Hollywood ending. This is a journalistic exercise, not just sex on the slopes," says Lionel Goddard, storyline producer for the show.

The demographic for Life Network, generally women ages 25 through 34, and the show’s creators envision a viewing audience who might otherwise have access to this total mountain euphoria. They emphasizes the series is not in an extreme ski movie format, but instead takes in the daily lives and movements of a diverse local cast.

"It’s an interesting cast when you knit them all together. And these are people facing challenges, including a struggling artist, an up and coming event promoter, and an athlete recovering from a sports injury. This isn’t the Survivor show where they get an artificial set up, this is real life," says Goddard.

Neither a skier nor snowboarder, Feingold found this project an awe-inspiring challenge.

"It’s really been a crash course in Whistler culture for me," laughs Feingold, from the editing offices in Vancouver. "I never knew what rain was until I moved to Vancouver (from L.A.). But in contrast to some who grow up here and take it for granted, I’ve got that outsider’s viewpoint looking in and noticing all these differences.

"The subjects of the series really take the bull by the horns, and they’ve made sacrifices and left other lives to come here to this place, with their own ideals and objectives. We taped a number of interviews with 40 people, and from that some will be used in the upcoming series," adds Feingold.

Anna Ceraldi, Denise Withers, and Grant Greschuk are three local producers involved with Whistler Stories. Cinematographer Christian Begin is also involved with the project. Paul Vance and Jamie Hussein have been covering location scouting, which includes the Maxx Fish nightclub and cabin interiors.

Producers are also in talks with local bands for the series soundtrack, to be finalized when the editing is complete.

Peach Arch Entertainment Group, which is working with The Eyes Multimedia Productions on Whistler Stories, has produced among other shows the comedy series Big Sound and Animal Miracles with Alan Thicke.

As documentaries go, expect a twist.

"The only thing that’s really certain (in a series like this) is that life happens," says Goddard.

For this reason, the cast storylines to be used for the series remain flexible.

Tune in, and keep on living the way you do.

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