ABC picks up Canadian drama 'Copper'

Touted as 'Grey's Anatomy' with rookie cops

TORONTO -- ABC is joining the swelling ranks of U.S. networks turning north for content, acquiring a Canadian cop drama for their primetime schedule.

ABC has picked up 13 episodes of "Copper" -- billed as "Grey's Anatomy" in the world of rookie cops -- from E1 Television, Canwest Global Communications said Wednesday.

The series' showrunner, Tassie Cameron, was head writer and co-executive producer on the first season of CBS and CTV's "Flashpoint," another Canadian cop drama that has had a successful run on CBS.

Cameron and fellow Toronto screenwriter Ilana Frank first pitched ABC Entertainment Group president Stephen McPherson on "Copper" in March, before taking the project to NBC, CW, Lifetime and Fox.

Interest in the Canadian import then continued over MIPTV before ABC and E1 Television sat down to hammer out a deal.

"Copper" is set to start production in Toronto in June. The title role, a female police officer, has yet to be cast.

The ABC pickup of "Copper" follows CBS' recent acquisition of "The Bridge," another cop drama from E1 Television and partners Brass Prods. and 990 Multimedia Entertainment. Production on "The Bridge," a cop drama created by former Toronto cop turned union boss Craig Bromell, began this week in Toronto, with Aaron Douglas ("Battlestar Galactica") in the lead role.

And NBC is shortly to bow "The Listener," a Toronto-set drama about a telepathic paramedic turned crime sleuth.

Fox International Channels in March launched "The Listener" in 180 territories worldwide.

The 2008 Hollywood writers strike triggered the current Canadian invasion of U.S. primetime as the major nets began looking to partner on local series in major English-language territories worldwide, rather than shoulder the entire cost of development.

But it's the Canadians, who have long worked in the trenches to develop and sell series in the U.S., who appear uniquely placed to take advantage of opportunities to partner with suddenly receptive and cost-conscious U.S. networks.

"Copper" represents the first drama from the Global Television development stable to make it onto a U.S. network schedule. The Canadian broadcaster in February ordered 13 episodes of "Copper" straight to series based on a script by Frank.

The project came to Global Television via a first-look deal with Frank's production shingle, Thump Inc. Frank then joined up with Cameron after both co-produced the four-hour TV miniseries "Would Be Kings" for CTV.