Canadian media company orders up new shows, series

Bell Media, owner of Canada’s top network CTV and 29 cable channels, launched Bell Benefits, a C$100 million ($103.1 million) fund to support scripted dramas, comedies, docus and award shows with local indie producers Wednesday.

Corrie Coe, senior VP of independent production, said now that Bell’s nine-month acquisition of the assets of CTVGlobemedia was complete, “We are in a position to begin moving forward with these tangible benefits and, in conjunction with our normal commitments and expenditures on Canadian programming, re-invigorate our independent production strategy.”

In advance of today’s upfront event for CTV’s fall slate, Bell confirmed it has ordered the fifth season of domestic hit “Flashpoint,” (season four preems this summer and will move to a prominent slot in fall), a third run for “The Listener” and the second season of period thriller “The Borgias.”

Bell has also greenlit hospital drama “Saving Hope,” produced by Ilana Frank (“Rookie Blue”), and mom lawyer drama “Stay With Me,” from writer-producer team Suzette Couture and Pierre Sarrazin (“Haven”). Cameras start rolling in Toronto this summer.

Bell’s production slate also includes original movie “The Horses of McBride,” based on a true father-daughter tale. Written and helmed by Anne Wheeler, pic stars Paul Gross and begins production in early 2012.

Bell has ordered a new drama with the working title “Highland Gardens” plus new seasons of “Degrassi,” both of which will air on MuchMusic; sketch show “Picnicface” for Comedy Network; and Space channel faves “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil” and “Sanctuary.”

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