'Flashpoint' sparks at CBS



TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CTV said Tuesday that it has sold the homegrown action drama "Flashpoint" to CBS. It marks the first Canadian program sale to U.S. networks since the start of the writers strike.

CBS has acquired 13 episodes of the one-hour drama about an elite anti-terror squad. Production on the series, independently produced by Toronto-based Pink Sky Entertainment and Avamar Entertainment, is set to begin in April.

Susanne Boyce, president of creative, content and channels at CTV, said "Flashpoint" was developed by the network as a pilot produced in the summer by Pink Sky, which then teamed with fellow Toronto producer Avamar.

The recent pitch to CBS on behalf of Pink Sky and Avamar was made by Peter Sussman, the former co-producer of the "CSI" franchise when he was at Alliance Atlantis Communications.

Boyce said the "Flashpoint" deal is a win-win for CTV and CBS as the U.S. network can put fewer production dollars into a drama on its schedule and CTV gets a North American platform on a Big Four network for one of its dramas.

"The writers room is all Canadian; it's Canadian produced," she said. "There are no WGA issues. And this is the first time that a Canadian-developed original series has aired on a Big Four network since 'Due South.' "

Boyce hinted at a second U.S. network deal in the works.

"Flashpoint" is executive produced by Anne Marie La Traverse for Pink Sky and Bill Mustos for Avamar in association with CTV and CBS Paramount Network Television. The series stars Enrico Colantoni, Hugh Dillon and David Paetkau as tough cops in a special tactical team that rescues hostages, busts gangs, defuses bombs and talks down suicidal teens.

Written and created by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern, "Flashpoint" aims to get inside a suspect's head at the emotional breaking point -- or flashpoint -- that triggers a crisis in order to defuse situations.

The deal with CBS is the first by Canadian distributors as they look to turn homegrown dramas into sales to U.S. networks during the Hollywood standoff between studios and writers that began Nov. 5.