Shaftesbury heads south with WMA

4:00 AM PST 02/06/2008 by Nellie Andreeva, AP

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In a sign of its serious U.S. expansion plans, leading Canadian TV production company Shaftesbury Films has signed with WMA.

The agency already brokered Shaftesbury's first major U.S. series deal, NBC's recent 13-episode pickup of the company's upcoming drama series "The Listener" (HR 1/25).

Motivated by the prolonged writers strike, the U.S. broadcasters turned their attention to shows produced north of the border. Several Canadian series, including CTV's dramas "Listener" and "Flashpoint" as well as CBC's comedy "Sophie," landed episodic pickups by U.S. nets last week, and a few more are under consideration.

"There seems to be a new pattern emerging at American TV networks, which have lately become more open to working with production companies outside the U.S.," Shaftesbury Films chairman and CEO Christina Jennings said.

For the past 10 years, Shaftesbury had been repped in the U.S. by the Alpern Group's Jeff Alpern. Alpern was involved in brokering Shaftesbury's deal with WMA and will continue to manage the company's interests.

Shaftesbury is in postproduction on the four-hour miniseries "The Summit," starring Bruce Greenwood, Christopher Plummer and James Purefoy, which is co-produced with Power Pictures and Media Headquarters. Shaftesbury's drama series "ReGenesis," starring Ellen Page, will soon begin its fourth season on the Movie Network and Movie Central in Canada. It airs in more than 100 countries, as does the company's children's series "Life With Derek," whose international distributors include Disney Channel in the U.S.

The company's newest drama series, "Murdoch Mysteries," recently launched on Citytv.
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