B'caster, circus group to develop projects

MONTREAL — Canuck circus Cirque du Soleil and Montreal-based broadcaster TVA Group announced Friday that they will be developing a number of TV shows together, including a variety series, several documentaries, at least one telepic and an animated children’s series.

Cirque du Soleil Images, the company’s film and TV subsidiary, and TVA Intl., TVA’s global production unit, will work on the projects, which will use the Cirque’s creative talent and TVA’s financing know-how. TVA is Canada’s leading private French-language TV network.

Daniel Lamarre, prexy and CEO of TVA, and Peter Wagg, managing director of Cirque du Soleil Images, made the announcement in Santa Monica as part of a Quebec trade mission to California helmed by Premier Lucien Bouchard. Most of the productions will be shot and produced in Quebec.

Variety show juggled

The projects include a family-oriented primetime variety series featuring performers who have been discovered over the years by the Cirque du Soleil. Production will kick off next spring. There are also plans for a series of one-hour docus on different aspects of the Cirque du Soleil.

In addition, the two companies are going to produce a TV movie based on the life and career of Sylvie Frechette, the Canadian synchronized swimming champ. Frechette performed and coached other performers on “O,” the Cirque’s aquatic show currently playing in Las Vegas. Finally, TVA Intl. is in discussions with Cirque du Soleil Images and Granada Media Group to produce an animated children’s series.

“We are very happy to have reached an agreement with TVA,” Wagg said. “Our discussions with Andre Provencher, president of TVA Intl., and Daniel Lamarre have enabled us to create a production base in Quebec. This is the home of Cirque du Soleil, and now we can join forces with TVA in building complementary television activities with our network of partners, in particular Granada Media Group, to continue to develop internationally while maintaining our ties at home.”

Pleased partner

TVA topper Lamarre added, “Uniting two brand names as powerful as TVA and Cirque du Soleil, and forging an association with the Cirque du Soleil’s prestige and international recognition, is a dream project for us. This association will ensure TVA Intl.’s rapid development and visibility.”

Cirque du Soleil Images recently completed production on the Imax 3-D pic “Journey of Man,” which will be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

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