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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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Without the CTF reversing its decision, it is unlikely that the show would have had the luxury of remaining entirely Canadian. The most obvious funding options would have entailed the producers entering a foreign co-production agreement to raise the necessary $1.4 million per episode. The budget is high by Canadian standards, but essential if Whistler is going to succeed, both here and there .

There is the U.S., where the show has been picked up with the cable network, The N, also known as Noggin. The network has made its name by broadcasting edgy youth fare like Degrassi , My So-Called Life and Clueles s. Adding Whistler , with its 15- to 40-year-old target demographic, to its line-up is clearly an attempt to age-up the channel and broaden its appeal.

"It’s a true-blue drama," says York. "It’s very clever, hip and sophisticated. The writing could stand up to anything currently being made. I gave the first two scripts to Sam (Feldman), he read them and said, ‘Where’s the next one?’"

Described as "an action-packed ride through the politics, especially the personal ones, of a high-end resort town, where family and interpersonal pressures are ready to blow" the premise of Whistle r may seem familiar. On the surface, it’s suspiciously like The Mountain , last year’s ill-fated WB series about life in a ski resort.

However, York says setting the shows in mountain resorts is where the resemblance ends. Whereas The Mountain used soap opera structure to move along the story of the prodigal son’s return home, Whistler promises to be headier fare.

"It’s The O.C. meets Twin Peaks ," stated the producer.

And it’s the surrealistic Twin Peaks -feel that is sure to have viewers tuning in. Like David Lynch’s late-’80s series, it’s the death of a popular local youth that creates a mystery from which the dramatic tension develops in Whistler . While Lynch had viewers wondering who killed Laura Palmer, York and company plan to engage their audience with the story of a local golden boy who returns with a medal from Torino and a host of endorsements, only to succumb to a suspicious death.

"We’re aiming at a 15- to 40-year-old audience, but anyone interested in serialized, multi-line stories, like Desperate Housewives , will enjoy it. And there’s a real sense of humour in the stories," said York.

The producer is also counting on stunning visuals to complement the writing and put the series head to head with its most obvious competitors.