Canal opens 'Mosque' in France


TORONTO -- French broadcaster Canal Plus has purchased "Little Mosque on the Prairie," the groundbreaking Canadian comedy that proved a winter hit on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Recording its first international deal, Toronto-based WestWind Pictures on Tuesday said that Canal Plus will put the first eight episodes of the Muslim-themed sitcom on air in France beginning in July, followed by broadcasts in French-speaking regions in Switzerland and French-speaking African countries.

WestWind Pictures president Mary Darling, who shopped the first season of "Little Mosque on the Prairie" at MIPTV, said Canal Plus emerged tops among a field of interested French broadcasters.

Darling said the French pay channel promised to air the Canadian sitcom unencrypted so as many viewers in a country plagued by persistent anti-Muslim sentiment can see the Canadian comedy.

"Given the difficulties that France has had, especially in the last year, they (Canal Plus) felt it would be a good show for as many people as possible to see, so bridges between different cultures can be built," Darling said.

The series, which portrays quirky Muslim Canadians and native Canadians in the fictional rural prairie town of Mercy, Saskatchewan, was created by Saskatoon-based film and TV writer Zarqa Nawaz and is now shooting its second season in Toronto.

Darling added broadcasters in the Middle East and Indonesia are eyeing "Little Mosque on the Prairie" for purchase, but many feel the Canadian comedy will require cuts to get around censors in their home markets.