Strike shutters 'Bionic,' 'Battlestar' up north



TORONTO -- The impact of the U.S. writers strike has reached Hollywood North.

NBC's Vancouver-shot TV series "Bionic Woman" shut down Nov. 9, local publicist Bill Vigars said Thursday, well ahead of its scheduled Dec. 12 close.

And local media reports indicate that the fourth season of Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," which was set to shoot through mid-March, will wrap Friday because it, too, has burned through available scripts.

Executives at the New York-based Sci Fi Channel in New York were not available for comment.

Ken Ferguson, president of Toronto Film Studios, said he knows of one U.S. project that had considered Toronto for location shooting, only to pull back because producers were uncertain whether the script was entirely complete, and would have had no writer on set to make changes if shooting had gone ahead.

Ferguson added that any current lull in Hollywood North also was due to the impact of a strong Canadian dollar on foreign location shooting budgets.

"It's more about the dollar, especially with the spike it took a while back. U.S. producers are asking what would happen if there was another spike," he said.

The loonie hit CAN$1.10 in value compared with the greenback last week before retreating to a CAN$1.04 range this week. The sudden rise in the value of the loonie follows two decades in which U.S. producers enjoyed huge cost savings when they shot here on the strength of a once-strong greenback.