Deals pouring in as Banff winds down

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BANFF, Alberta -- Dealmaking at the Banff World Television Festival kicked into gear Tuesday as Canadian producer Breakthrough Films & Television inked deals on an expanded drama slate.

Breakthrough said it will partner with Buffalo Gal Pictures to produce 13 half-hours of "Less Than Kind," a dark, dysfunctional comedy about teenage angst for Canadian broadcaster Chum Television.

The Toronto-based company also is teaming with Silver Tip Pictures to co-produce "Easton Meets West, a dramedy about a liberal Toronto family that moves to a conservative suburb of Calgary. A one-hour pilot is in the works for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Additionally, Breakthrough inked a deal with Canadian premium pay TV networks the Movie Network and Movie Central for the mockumentary "Confessions of a Porn Addict -- A Love Story."

Tanya Kelen, Breakthrough's head of distribution, said her team hopes to secure additional sales for its burgeoning drama slate in Banff and other international markets going forward.

"Showcase has just greenlit a third season of 'Paradise Falls' for 2008, reflecting an expansion of our drama slate," Kelen said.

In other news, Vancouver-based producer Crescent Entertainment signed a first-look deal with Channel Four International, giving the British partner the first option on developing and distributing Crescent TV shows.

As part of the agreement, Channel Four will invest in developing Crescent shows, provide deficit financing, and presell and secure worldwide programming sales.

Meanwhile, Thunderbird Films and Los Angeles-based Program Partners announced that "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" has been sold to OMNI Television, a Toronto TV station owned by Rogers Communications, along with Chum Television's Alberta on ACCESS and the Canadian Learning Television cable channel.

Other deals inked in Banff include HGTV Canada and the U.S.-based Discovery Green Planet channel ordering 13 half-hours of "World's Greenest Homes" from Toronto-based producer Cineflex Prods.

On the financing side, Calgary-based mobile content producer MoboVivo said it has signed a letter of intent for venture capital financing from Texas-based private equity firm United Equities Inc.

Away from the market, Banff delegates continued to debate the potential and pitfalls of emerging digital platforms for traditional media.

Susanne Daniels, president of Lifetime Entertainment Services, said her network is moving aggressively to build Lifetime.com as a lifestyle Web site and a promotional tool steering Internet traffic back to Lifetime TV content.

Daniels said her network debuted the Canadian supernatural drama series "Blood Ties" in March and was instantly able to measure audience appeal by the amount of Internet downloads the show received.

"I feel like we get instant response from the audience, in a way I never got at WB.com," Daniels, a former head of primetime series for the former WB Network, told Banff delegates.

The Banff World Television Festival wraps Wednesday.
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