Breakthrough branches out from reality TV
TORONTO — One of Canada’s busiest producer-distribs, Breakthrough Films and Television, is having a breakthrough of its own.
Breakthrough has recently sold teen angst skein “Less Than Kind,” produced with Buffalo Gal Pictures, to Rogers’ Citytv, which plans to begin airing the 13 half-hours in summer or fall of 2008.
Skein is Breakthrough’s first new scripted TV series since racy primetime soap “Paradise Falls” went into production in 2001, and marks a change in direction at the Toronto-based company, better known for reality programming including “Kenny vs. Spenny,” “Skooled” and “Med Students” and animated fare like “Atomic Betty” and “Captain Flamingo.”
Breakthrough has delivered 550 half-hours in the last two years, with production volume in 2006 of C$24 million ($23 million).
However, execs saw the shine beginning to fade on the reality craze about 18 months ago and decided to take a chance with different content — a mix of comedy and drama that it calls “comerama,” funny without the laugh track but also thoughtful, while still remaining tailored to its target aud.
It’s a distinctive approach to programming that is also risky.
It includes a pilot called “Easton Meets West” for pubcaster CBC with Silver Tip Pictures, about a hip urban Toronto family that moves to Calgary, next door to “an ultra-conservative family of pro-lifers with guns.” CBC has yet to decide whether to take the pilot to series.
It also has another two scripted shows in development, teen angst series “Rachel’s World” for Family Channel, and, with Verite Films, gumshoe skein “Quant.”
Breakthrough is branching out in other ways, putting the finishing touches on what it hopes will be its first theatrical release, “Confessions of a Porn Addict — A Love Story.”
Pic is a mockumentary about a computer geek addicted to porn and was created and written by Spencer Rice and Duncan Christie, co-creator and director-editor, respectively, of “Kenny vs. Spenny.”
Breakthrough has submitted a rough cut to the Toronto Film Festival and hopes for a U.S. and Canadian release. Pay channels the Movie Network and Movie Central have the first Canadian broadcast window for the bare-all pic.
Sex is nothing new to Breakthrough, which is already known for pushing the envelope with “Paradise Falls,” recently picked up for a third season for Showcase in Canada and Here TV in the U.S.
Fifty-two segs of “Paradise Falls” were shot in 2001, the second season was shot in 2003, and season three is filming this summer, giving the sudser more than 100 episodes, which makes it ripe for syndication in certain circles.
Meanwhile, the company continues with its mainstays — animation, and, yes, reality.
“Our diversity is our strength,” says Breakthrough principal Peter Williamson.