R&B artist Keshia Chanté to star in VisionTV's first original hour-long drama series

    TORONTO, Aug. 28 /CNW/ - VisionTV is set to begin shooting its first
original hour-long drama series in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with Juno
Award-winning singer-songwriter Keshia Chanté in the starring role.
    The series, which has the working title Mahalia, tells the story of a
young singer torn between different worlds. Principal photography commences on
Sept. 2.
    The six-part program is being produced for VisionTV by Halifax Film.
    Said Joan Jenkinson, VisionTV's Director of Independent Production and
Executive Producer on the project: "We have assembled a first-rate creative
team to bring Mahalia to life, and are thrilled to have an artist of Keshia
Chanté's stature in the lead. We are confident that this series will break new
ground, showcasing some extraordinary Canadian musical and filmmaking talent,
and telling a story of tremendous emotional resonance."
    Mahalia is the first small-screen starring role for Ottawa native Keshia
Chanté, who won a Juno Award in 2005 for R&B/Soul Recording Of The Year.
    As Mahalia Brown, a gifted gospel singer from Toronto, she plays a young
woman on the verge of leaving behind the safety of church and family for the
fast track to pop stardom. But at what price? Can she stay spiritual in a
material world? Mahalia's story unfolds against a backdrop of violent conflict
within her troubled urban neighbourhood - a dangerous world of drugs and guns
into which her brother Malcolm is unwillingly drawn.
    The series will feature a gospel choir made up of singers recruited from
the Halifax area, and led by renowned spoken-world performer, journalist and
musician Shauntay Grant. The creation of the choir will be the subject of an
hour-long documentary for VisionTV.
    The Executive Producers of Mahalia are Floyd Kane (North/South), Peter
Lauterman (North of 60), Michael Donovan (Bowling for Columbine) and Charles
Bishop (The Guard). Andy Marshall is Creative Producer, and Margaret Harrison
(Shake Hands with the Devil) is Line Producer.
    The series writers are Andy Marshall, Peter Lauterman and Floyd Kane. The
directors include Stefan Scaini (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Steve
DiMarco (The Chris Isaak Show).
    Mark Prasuhn, Chief Content Officer for VisionTV's parent company S-VOX,
said the launch of production on Mahalia represents a landmark for the
multi-faith and multicultural broadcaster. "Throughout its history, VisionTV
has been a leading supporter of original Canadian production. It is fitting
that, as the network celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are taking this bold
new step and creating opportunities for diverse Canadian talent both in front
of and behind the camera."
    Noted Mr. Prasuhn: "VisionTV has long supported production talent from
the Maritime provinces, and we are delighted to continue this tradition with
the Halifax Film team that will produce Mahalia."
    The six-part program has emerged from the DiverseTV initiative launched
by VisionTV in partnership with the National Screen Institute - Canada (NSI),
and is the first DiverseTV project to go before the cameras.
    DiverseTV was designed to offer visible minority and Aboriginal writers
the chance to create a television drama for national broadcast.
    For more information on VisionTV programming, please visit

    VisionTV, an S-VOX company, is Canada's multi-faith and multicultural
broadcaster, dedicated to entertaining and insightful programming that
celebrates diversity and promotes understanding and tolerance among people of
different faiths and cultures. VisionTV celebrates its 20th anniversary in
2008-2009. Visit VisionTV on the Web at: www.visiontv.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: David Todd, Media Relations
Manager, S-VOX, Phone: (416) 368-3194, ext. 207, Email: dtodd@s-vox.com

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