Saloon Media has hired former Pier 21 Films exec Melissa Williamson to get the longtime factual TV producer into scripted dramas and comedies.
In the new role for the Blue Ant Studios division, Williamson will oversee development and production of all scripted series. Based in Toronto, she will report to Michael Kot, managing director of Saloon Media, which in recent years has worked with international partners from the U.S. and the U.K. on factual series and TV specials.
“We’re committed to developing a diverse scripted slate amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Melissa’s sharp creative insight and wealth of industry relationships, in both Canada and L.A., are invaluable in setting up an impressive pipeline of compelling projects,” Kot said in a statement.
Williamson served as president of Toronto-based Pier 21 Films, where she executive produced the news satire The Beaverton for CTV. Before that, she worked in Los Angeles with indie producer Blueprint Entertainment before it became part of Entertainment One’s TV division in 2008.
Williamson told THR about Saloon Media’s diversified slate of scripted properties developed with new U.S. and U.K. partnerships. These include a half hour comedy based on Adam Greydon Reid’s digital series Hospital Show, and another chuckler based on the comedy of trans comic Tranna Wintour.
The indie producer is also at work on a supernatural drama structured as a Canada-U.K. co-production. Williamson predicted the current upswing in linear and online TV viewing during the coronavirus pandemic should have U.S. broadcasters and streamers needing to replenish their shelves with new titles, possibly with Canadian-originated projects acquired later this year.
“It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when we come out of this (COVID-19 crisis). More than a few productions have been put on hold. We have these great series that we’re taking to Canadian broadcasters and we’re bringing some additional U.S. and UK financing to the table,” she explained.
Factual TV credits at Saloon Media include the crime series Handsome Devils for Investigation Discovery U.S., the Witches of Salem docudrama for the Travel Channel and Tornado Hunters for Netflix.