'Student Bodies' first to emerge

MONTREAL — Canadian TV producer Telescene Film Group is set to significantly increase its presence in Gotham via a series of deals with New York writer-producers, said Michael Yudin, who heads the Montreal-based company’s New York office.

Yudin announced Tuesday that the first New York housekeeping deal for Telescene is with Bob Altman, a TV producer, di-rector and writer.

Altman is already working with Telescene on “Nicknocks,” a half-hour weekly gameshow for Nickelodeon, and “University Place,” a one-hour youth-oriented drama series. The pilot for “Nicknocks,” a reality-based gameshow for kids 8-12, will be lensed April 20 on the ski slopes at Stowe, Vt., and the production will be based in Montreal, with shoots across the continent.

Altman’s previous credits include “The Renford Rejects,” a comedy series for Nick U.K. that he directed; “Planet Video,” a kids show shot in 35 countries that Altman executive produced; and “Wish You Were Here,” a comedy series for CBS and Viacom that he executive produced. He also produced “The Street,” a half-hour drama series for Quantum Media/MCA.

“He was one of the first guys to shoot in the hand-held ‘Homicide”/”NYPD Blue’ style,” said Telescene executive veepee Yudin. “He’s always been an innovator in terms of style of shooting. He knows how to work creatively and efficiently.”

There will be several more housekeeping deals in the coming months, Yudin added.

“I believe there are a lot of talented people in New York and we are very interested in making arrangements with New York-based creative talent,” he said.

The first series to come out of Telescene’s New York office was “Student Bodies,” a teen sitcom that mixes live-action and animation. Lensed in Montreal, it is syndicated by Twentieth Television in the U.S. and has sold well overseas for Sunbow Entertainment. Other recent Telescene shows include the Canadian-Japanese miniseries “Hiroshima” and the erotic horror anthology “The Hunger,” co-produced with Tony and Ridley Scott’s company Scott Free.

Altman first began working with Telescene in 1996, executive producing and directing “Xpress” and “Excess Baggage,” two half-hour pilots for the Travel Channel.

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