The Movie Network and Movie Central announce upcoming production slate

BANFF, AB, June 14 /CNW/ - Astral's The Movie Network (Eastern Canada) and Corus Entertainment's Movie Central (Western Canada) today announced that eight Canadian original projects have been greenlit for production. Showcasing some of this country's best talent both in front of and behind the camera, titles include: new seasons of the comedy series Call Me Fitz, Less Than Kind and Living In Your Car; the six-part stand-up comedy series Just For Laughs: Funny As Hell (working title); Skins, a new Canadian content series based on the popular UK version; the mockumentary series The Yard; and original films Sleepyhead and Scaredycat.

"We are proud to partner with and support the strong, innovative talent working in this country. Their unique and creative voices truly speak to the quality of programming available on pay television today," said Aubie Greenberg, Director, Original Programming, Movie Services, Astral Television Networks. "With bold storytelling, high-quality production values and a diverse line-up that includes comedies, films and stand-up specials, we can't wait for our pay TV audiences to experience the new home-grown titles coming their way."

"Our original pay TV series have never been stronger, and we are proud of the role we play in the development and support of the best in Canadian television," said Erica Benson, Vice President, Programming, Movie Central. "The depth of this year's production slate is extraordinary, and we couldn't be more pleased to be partnering with some of this country's finest creative talents."

From E1 Entertainment, Amaze Film + Television, Big Motion Pictures and Creator /Executive Producer Sheri Elwood, Call Me Fitz is a no-holds-barred half-hour comedy starring Jason Priestley as Richard "Fitz" Fitzpatrick, a morally degenerate used car salesman who is forced to go into business with his 'conscience.' Season 1 is scheduled to premiere in September 2010 on The Movie Network and Movie Central, with Season 2 set to go into production this fall.

Less Than Kind, the half-hour, award-winning comedy from Breakthrough Film & Television and Buffalo Gal Pictures, will go into production on a third season in September 2010 in Winnipeg. Helmed by executive producer, writer and showrunner Mark McKinney, and starring Maury Chaykin and Jesse Camacho, the series follows the darkly comedic growing pains of Winnipeg teenager Sheldon Blecher and his dysfunctional family. Season 3 will premiere on HBO Canada in early 2011.

A second season of Living In Your Car, the critically acclaimed series from The Nightingale Company and Walker/Romain Productions will go into production this summer and will premiere in 2011. This karmic comedy tells the unpredictable story of a business mogul's fall from grace and his wild attempts to regain the life he lost.

Scheduled to be shot in front of a live studio audience in July as part of the 28th edition of the Just For Laughs Festival, Just For Laughs: Funny As Hell (working title) is a six-part, half-hour comedy series mixing daring stand-up with musical comedy and digital shorts, hosted by one of Canada's edgiest comics, Jon Dore. Produced by Just For Laughs Television, the series will premiere on The Movie Network and Movie Central in 2011.

Produced in association with MTV U.S., Skins is a one-hour series produced as a Canada/UK co-venture from E1 Entertainment and Company Pictures. Based on the award-winning and edgy UK hit series, this teen drama follows the lives of a group of charismatic, but troubled youth as they lurch towards adulthood. Skins is scheduled to go into production in Toronto this summer, and will premiere on The Movie Network and Movie Central in 2011.

The Yard, a six-part, half-hour mockumentary series in association with Whizbang Films Inc., is set in an urban elementary school, and follows the story of two rival gangs fighting for schoolyard supremacy. The comedic series, helmed by award-winning director Michael Mabbott, will go into production in July 2010, and will premiere in 2011.

Based on the best-selling crime thrillers by author Mark Billingham, Sleepyhead and Scaredycat are two feature length Canada/UK co-productions that follow main character Detective Tom Thorne as he investigates a series of terrifying murders that may be linked. Currently in production and scheduled to premiere in March 2011 on The Movie Network and Movie Central, both films are Cité-Amérique co-productions from Greg Dummett.

    
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CALL ME FITZ (SEASON 2)

From E1 Entertainment, Amaze Film + Television and Big Motion Pictures, Call Me Fitz is a no-holds-barred half-hour comedy starring Jason Priestley as used car salesman Richard "Fitz" Fitzpatrick, who torments his naïve co-workers, sleeps with any woman who has a pulse, and thinks his life is perfect. Season 1 is scheduled to premiere in September 2010 on The Movie Network and Movie Central, with Season 2 set to go into production this fall.

LESS THAN KIND (SEASON 3)

Less Than Kind follows Sheldon Blecher, a wise, overweight teenager growing up in Winnipeg's North End, and his relationships inside a desperately dysfunctional family. Season 3 picks up on the very last day of summer and finds the Blecher family temporarily exiled from their stinking, flooded house in Aunt Clara's tiny summer cottage. As the volatile Blecher family struggles to stay together and resurrect the failing family business, Blecher's Driving School, Sheldon must keep his precocious composure through a season of romantic frustration and near familial collapse if he is to become his own man. Starring Maury Chaykin, Jesse Camacho, Wendel Meldrum, Benjamin Arthur and Nancy Sorel.

LIVING IN YOUR CAR (SEASON 2)

Created and written by George F. Walker, Dani Romain, and Joseph Kay, and directed and executive produced by legendary Canadian comedic talent David Steinberg, Living In Your Car tells the unpredictable riches to rags story of Steve Unger, the fallen corporate exec who was once viewed as the embodiment of success and who is now widely looked upon with contempt and pity. Having exchanged his luxury sedan for a converted van, the second season of this critically lauded series finds Steve settling deeper into the life of a car dweller, and attempting to reconcile his growing empathy for the have-nots with his still vibrant need for riches and power. Starring John Ralston, Ingrid Kavelaars, Mariah Horner, Colin Cunningham, Joe Cobden and Lucia Moniz.

JUST FOR LAUGHS: FUNNY AS HELL (WORKING TITLE)

This six-part stand-up comedy series will be shot in front of a live studio audience in July as part of the 28th edition of the Just For Laughs Festival. Hosted by comedian Jon Dore, the series will feature performances - both stand-up and musical - by JB Smoove, Donald Glover, Tim Minchin, Bo Burnham, Patrice Oneal, The Doo Wops, Jim Jeffries and more, alongside hilarious original digital shorts.

SKINS

After its 2007 debut in the UK, Skins became an immediate sensation with its controversial yet very real storylines. The teen drama follows the lives of a group of charismatic, but troubled, youth as they lurch towards adulthood. From E1 Entertainment and UK-based Company Pictures, Skins is executive produced by Charlie Pattinson, George Faber, John Morayniss and Laszlo Barna, with the pilot written by Bryan Elsley, a co-creator of the original UK version. Elsley also serves as showrunner.

THE YARD

The Yard, a six-part, half-hour mockumentary series in association with Whizbang Films Inc., is set in an urban elementary school, and chronicles two rival gangs vying for control of the schoolyard. In this provocatively humorous series, we follow twelve year old Nick and his crew trying to walk the razor's edge of maintaining peace and defending their turf against the ruthless Dos Santos brothers, who will stop at nothing to regain control of the Yard. It's a tough world out there: corruption, greed, violence, seduction and betrayal - and that's just recess.

SLEEPYHEAD

Adapted from Mark Billingham's international best seller Sleepyhead, this crime thriller follows Detective Tom Thorne who is dragged back into the nightmares of his past as he heads up an investigation into a series of terrifying attacks on young women. Starring David Morrissey, Eddie Marsan, Natasha McElhone, Aiden Gillen and Josh Close, and directed by Stephen Hopkins.

SCAREDYCAT

Based on Mark Billingham's second best-selling novel, Scaredycat, Detective Tom Thorne returns in an attempt to prove two murders that eerily echo two previous crimes committed months before are no coincidence. Starring David Morrissey, Sandra Oh, Eddie Marsan and Aiden Gillen. Executive produced by Stephen Hopkins and directed by Ben Ross.

The Movie Network is a pay television service available in eastern Canada. With premiere access to Hollywood hit movies, new and exclusive HBO content, critically-acclaimed Showtime series and first-rate Canadian programming, this pay-television service presents Canadians with some of the best television entertainment available. The Movie Network service includes five 24-hour multiplex channels - M, HBO Canada, MExcess, MFun! and MFest - which deliver diverse and entertaining programs in an uncut and commercial-free television environment. The Movie Network also offers The Movie Network HD, HBO Canada HD, MExcess HD and MFun! HD, four dedicated high-definition channels providing hundreds of titles in HD; The Movie Network OnDemand, a Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) service, available in select areas across eastern Canada; and, TMN OnLine an Internet-based content streaming service available to BellTV subscribers. For more information, please visit www.themovienetwork.ca.

The Movie Network is a member of the Astral family. Astral is one of Canada's largest media companies. It operates over 100 of the country's most popular pay and specialty television, radio, out-of-home advertising and digital media properties. Astral plays a central role in community life across the country by offering diverse, rich and vibrant programming that meets the tastes and needs of consumers and advertisers. To learn more about Astral, visit astral.com.

Movie Central is a commercial-free premium pay TV service available in western Canada. Movie Central premieres the best in Hollywood, international and Canadian films across nine 24-hour movie channels, including dedicated high-definition feeds, a Movie Central On Demand service and exclusive HBO content on HBO Canada. Movie Central is also the first window for Showtime content and home to cutting-edge Canadian series. A major force in the Canadian independent film and television production industry, Movie Central, through The Corus Made with Pay Fund, supports many critically-acclaimed and award-winning Canadian series and films. Visit the Movie Central website at www.moviecentral.ca.

Movie Central is owned by Corus Entertainment Inc., a Canadian-based media and entertainment company. Corus is a market leader in specialty television and radio with additional assets in pay television, advertising services, television broadcasting, children's book publishing and children's animation. The company's multimedia entertainment brands include YTV, Treehouse, Nickelodeon (Canada), W Network, CosmoTV, VIVA, Sundance Channel (Canada), Movie Central, HBO Canada, Nelvana, Kids Can Press and radio stations including CKNW, CFOX, CKOI, 98,5 FM, Q107 and 102.1 the Edge. Corus creates engaging branded entertainment experiences for its audiences across multiple platforms. A publicly traded company, Corus is listed on the Toronto (CJR.B) and New York (CJR) exchanges. Experience Corus on the web at www.corusent.com.

SOURCE The Movie Network

For further information: For further information: The Movie Network (Eastern Canada): Scott Campbell, (416) 956-8648, scampbell@astral.com; Movie Central (Western Canada): Lindsay Sutcliffe, (416) 479-6103, lindsay.sutcliffe@corusent.com

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