Banff looking to spread Canadian fare to U.S.

Producers also eyeing partnerships

TORONTO -- Bullish Canadians headed to this year's Banff World Television Festival are hoping U.S. buyers are ready to open their wallets for more homegrown TV series.

With NBC having purchased the Canadian drama "The Listener" and CBS acquiring "Flashpoint" during the recent WGA strike, local producers anticipate a full-court press in Banff to get more homegrown series into the U.S. market when the festival begins its four-day run Sunday.

"As most producers recognize, there's a push on in Canada among producers and broadcasters to get real Canadian drama back on, and also a great push in having Canadian drama picked up in the U.S. market. And we're eager to be involved in that," said David Paperny of Vancouver-based Paperny Films.

Paperny added that U.S. coin is only part of the puzzle required to finance new Canadian dramas, as producers eye international partnerships such as the one behind NBC action-adventure series "Crusoe," an official Canada/U.K./South Africa co-production produced by Canada's Muse Entertainment, Britain's Power and Moonlighting Crusoe Prods.

Also on the market front, Toronto-based producer Portfolio Entertainment said that it intends to acquire about 400 hours of product in Banff for its distribution pipeline.

Portfolio co-founder and president Lisa Olfman said that she and her acquisitions team will be on the hunt for lifestyle, factual, kids and family programming, particularly to slot into the distributor's catalog for MIPCOM in the fall.

"What is wonderful about Banff is you can take the time to really get to know a producer and see whether there's a connection in terms of goals and in terms of where the market is," Olfman said.

Banff programrs have lined up a slate of Hollywood heavy hitters for panels and master classes, including "Entourage's" Doug Ellin, "Hannah Montana" creator/exec producer Michael Poyres, "Gossip Girl" co-showrunner Stephanie Savage and "Bones" creator-showrunner Hart Hanson.

Festival executive director Jennifer Harkness said that about 150 Canadian and international commissioning editors are bound for the 29th edition of Banff to encourage dealmaking between program buyers and sellers.

"I'm bringing the world to Banff. A producer doesn't have to make the trip to New York, Los Angeles and Paris. I'm bringing those executives to Banff, and producers will have a great opportunity to meet them," Harkness said.