Telefilm Canada comedy lab formed

Joint venture of Canadian gov't, CFC, Just For Laughs

TORONTO -- The Canadian government is to finance a theatrical comedy incubator out of Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Center (CFC) and the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, it was announced Thursday.

The Telefilm Canada features comedy lab will launch in November at the CFC in Toronto and quickly identify five original Canadian feature comedies for production beginning in 2011.

CFC executive director Slawko Klymkiw said industry mentors, including comic Eugene Levy, will help "hot house" the five projects, and their producer/writer/director teams.

"While Canada has made some great comedies, such as 'Strange Brew,' 'Porky's' and 'Bon Cop Bad Cop', for a country that is recognized globally for its sense of humor, we have not fully exploited our potential to make funny and commercially successful feature films," added Sheila de La Varende, director of national and international business development at Telefilm Canada.

The CFC, which already partners with NBC Universal to develop Canadian TV series for international broadcasters, will work with Just For Laughs to draw out and mentor young Canadian comedy writers, directors and producers.

The CFC getting into the movie and TV development business comes 20 years after Canadian director Norman Jewison launched the Toronto-based film school.