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Whistler: more than music, mountains and mayhem

Series positioned as a hip, sophisticated mystery with a sense of humour

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ART: Something by Warren Miller

CAP: Will shooting in HD replicate create awe-inspiring Warren Miller-type visuals? Whistler’s Janet York hopes so.

Whistler will get the star treatment in an upcoming CTV series of the same name. Principal photography for Whistler will begin Nov. 16. Producer Janet York, of Boardwatch Productions, is hoping that the show will air this spring on the heels of the Torino Olympic Winter Games.

"We’re hoping to build on that interest in winter sports," said York. "But you know how things can change at networks."

Indeed. The one-hour drama was considered dead in the water this June when it was turned down for funding by the Canadian Television Fund. In Canada, without the CTF, it is nearly impossible to get a show produced, since initial broadcast fees only serve to pay a fraction of a show’s cost.

The rejection was shocking. Atypical of industry standards, CTV had submitted only three shows to the funding body. Common practice is to throw everything you have at the wall to see what sticks. (CBC submitted 27 shows and Global applied to fund 11.)

"If it wasn’t for Sam Feldman, John Morayniss and Bill Mustos, we wouldn’t have had the reversal of fortune we had," stated York.

Mustos is senior VP of dramatic programming for CTV, Morayniss is co-founder of Blueprint Entertainment, Boardwatch’s production partner, and Feldman is executive producer for the series.

Feldman is also head of the country’s leading entertainment agency, the Vancouver-based SL Feldman and Associates. SLFA has supervised soundtracks for numerous film and TV projects. York works with the agency, heading its Big Pictures division. As the moving force behind Big Pictures, York has produced on the feature Rare Birds and the TV series Big Sound . Broadcast in 2000-01, Big Sound was a comedy set in the music industry that featured musicians playing themselves.

Approached by Whistler creators John Barbisan, Patrick Banister, Mindy Heltzon and Susan James, York realized that the series would be a perfect fit with Big Pictures’ mandate: developing fast-paced music focused television.

"Music will be more important in this show than on usual soundtracks. We’ll be using techniques like needle drop and featuring local indie artists," explained York.

From the music to the actors to the five scribes holed-up in the writers room (a rarity in Canadian TV), the show is 100 per cent Canadian-made – a point of considerable pride with York.

"We have great crews here," enthused the producer. "The talent pool in Vancouver is very deep; the talent is stunning."

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