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Telescene seeing rev, product spurt

Revenues surge 97%; earnings jump 375%

MONTREAL — Telescene Film Group, which had its first public share issue in July, and the robust development of the Montreal-based company is reflected in its first public year-end financial results.

Year-end revenues for the Canadian TV and film producer surged 97% to C$44.7 million ($30.7 million), up from $15.6 million in fiscal 1997. Net earnings were upped even more significantly, increasing 375% to $2.6 million or 38¢ per share from $550,000 (12¢) the previous year.

The boffo numbers are a result of Telescene’s decision to increase production output from a couple of miniseries and TV movies annually to backing several series simultaneously. Telescene is able to finance the pricier series thanks to public offerings, which raised $49.5 millionover the past 12 months.

The company is set to deliver 61 hours of TV programming, up from 26 hours last year. “The Hunger” has been renewed by Showtime and Telescene is set to lens 22 more half-hours.

“Student Bodies” has received the green light for another season from Twentieth Television, which ordered a further 39 episodes, bringing the total to 65. Telescene also has two new sitcoms to air on the Fox Family Channel. Telescene will shoot 22 episodes of “Misguided Angels,” described by Telescene exec VP Paul Painter as “Dumb and Dumber” meets “Touched by an Angel,” and will produce 26 episodes of “Big Wolf on Campus,” about a teenage werewolf on campus.

Telescene is embarking on its most ambitious project yet, the Action Adventure Network, a $200 million venture set up by Telescene, Richmel Prods. and Goodman/Rosen Prods. to develop movies and series for the Direct Ticket pay-per-view service.

The first TV pic to go into production in the venture will be the two-hour movie “The Lost World,” to be shot in Australia with John Landis executive producing. The second Action Adventure pic will be the remake of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” to be shot in Australia and Hong Kong with Francis Ford Coppola serving as executive producer.

“I don’t see any slow-down coming,” Telescene’s Painter said. “With the opening of the two U.S. offices, it’s really coming back to us in spades.”

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