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Canuck prod’n team put to mini ‘Sleep’

MONTREAL — Bernard Zukerman Prods. of Toronto and Cinar Films of Montreal, the same team that produced the hit CBS miniseries “Million Dollar Babies,” have partnered for new miniseries “The Sleep Room.”

The four-hour miniseries currently is lensing in Montreal.

Scripted by Montreal writer Bruce Smith, son of “Dangerous Minds” helmer John N. Smith, pic’s based on Anne Collins’ Governor General Award-winning book “In the Sleep Room: The Story of the CIA Brainwashing Experiments in Canada.” It tells the true-life tale of Dr. Ewen Cameron, who conducted top-secret experiments with his patients at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal. Funded by the CIA, he routinely gave LSD to his patients and used high-voltage shock therapy.

His experiments in the 1960s led to long court cases in Canada and massive media coverage in the Great White North. CBS’ “60 Minutes” ran a segment about the case a couple of years ago. The miniseries is directed by Canuck helmer Anne Wheeler (“Loyalties,” “The War Between Us”).

The show already is sold to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in Canada and Radio-Canada in French Canada, but Cinar, which has world rights to “The Sleep Room,” has yet to start selling it outside Canada. Zukerman admits the subject matter has some TV executives south of the border a bit nervous.

“There may be some nervousness about foreigners — Canadians — taking shots at an American institution, the CIA,” Zukerman said. “But the story is so compelling. We believe it’s the quality of the show that will sell it and the subject matter has built-in PR.”

“The Sleep Room” cast is headed by Donald Moffat (“Clear and Present Danger”), who plays the lawyer taking on the CIA, and other thesps on board include well-known Canadian actors Marina Orsini and Macha Grenon. Zukerman has had several of his pics on U.S. networks in the past, notably “Conspiracy of Silence” and “Love and Hate.”

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