Cronenberg commits ‘Crimes’

Writer/director David Cronenberg has inked a deal with Paragon Entertainment to develop a six-part TV series, “Crimes Against Nature,” for Canadian pubcaster CBC.

He described the series as “a suspense drama that takes place in a slightly dislocated universe — an out-of-joint world side-by-side with ours. Let’s say it is William Burroughs meets Jean Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville.'”

Cronenberg will begin penning scripts for the half-hour episodes Aug. 1, once post-production is completed on his latest feature, “M. Butterfly.” The pic’s world preem will be as the opening-night film for Toronto’s 1993 Festival of Festivals in September.

Lensing on the multimillion-dollar TV series is slated to begin next February in Toronto. Shows will be available for broadcast during the 1994 season.

Cronenberg will serve as writer, director and executive producer. Paragon Prods. prexy Carol Reynolds and Paragon Entertainment topper Jon Slan also will executive produce the series.

Directing forays

Cronenberg’s previous forays into television have been restricted to directing a handful of advertising spots and the first two episodes of CBC’s award-winning series “The Scales of Justice.” But it was his initial television undertakings that indirectly led to “Crimes Against Nature.”

Reynolds, who initiated the current project, established a relationship with Cronenberg when she was programming topper at CBC. She was seeking out directors for “The Scales of Justice.” Some Ontario Hydro promotional vignettes caught her attention. And after learning Cronenberg directed one of the spots, she brought him on board to direct two episodes of “Scales.”

“Crimes Against Nature” evolved from discussions Reynolds had with Cronenberg when she trekked to the sets of “M. Butterfly” in Toronto and Budapest. Before she went to Hungary, Reynolds secured a commitment from Ivan Fecan, CBC’s English net veep.

“‘Crimes Against Nature’ is precisely the kind of adventurous drama that our after-10 p.m. time block was conceived for,” said Fecan.

Straight from David’s brain

Reynolds points out that this will be different from Cronenberg’s previous television stints. The current venture is “a complete original concept from the mind of David Cronenberg.” It is the story of a secret police squad, called the “Flesh Squad,” that seeks out deviant behavior.

The series will be shot on 35mm, which will allow for theatrical release in foreign territories, according to Reynolds. World distribution rights will be handled by Paragon International.

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