Canada's 'Flashpoint' sparks excitement

Cop drama debuts at No. 1 in Canada and the U.S.

TORONTO -- Canadian TV executives reacted with excitement Monday to news that homegrown cop drama "Flashpoint" debuted in first place Friday night in both the U.S. and Canada.

"It's special and it's surreal," series co-producer Bill Mustos said after the 13-part series about a Toronto tactical police unit drew 8.13 million viewers on CBS -- good enough to beat out ABC's "20/20" and NBC's "Dateline" in the 10 p.m. Friday slot.

CBS acquired the Canadian drama from Toronto-based Pink Sky and Avamar Entertainment during the WGA strike.

Canada's CTV, which also aired "Flashpoint" on Friday at 10 p.m., said the cop drama drew an average 1.11 million viewers, impressive in a market where 1 million viewers is considered a primetime hit.

Alchemy Television and Tele-Munchen have pacted to sell "Flashpoint" internationally.

In the fall, NBC is set to air "The Listener," another Canadian drama that was picked up during the recent Hollywood shutdown. Series producer Shaftesbury Films and ShineReveille International recently sold the cable and satellite rights to "The Listener" for Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East to Fox International.

"There's a lot riding on these shows. And if we can prove that American audiences will embrace Canadian shows, that's great news for all of us," Shaftesbury Films CEO Christina Jennings said.

Stephen Waddell, national executive director of ACTRA, which about 21,000 performers here, said that the success of "Flashpoint" bodes well for additional Canadian dramas to penetrate the U.S. market.

"It shouldn't be a surprise that a Canadian production can do so well in the U.S. We are great storytellers. Flashpoint's success is a proud moment for all Canadians," he said.