Telescene tilting; Painter steps down

Rapid-growth producer in cash-flow quandary

MONTREAL — Canuck TV producer Telescene Film Group, which has been expanding rapidly over the past couple of years, has run into some big-time financing problems.

The Montreal-based company announced a $100 million production slate earlier this year, but execs now admit that many of the shows on the slate do not have stable financing.

Executive vice president Paul Painter will step down from his executive position on Tuesday, the day of the company’s annual meeting, which promises to be stormy. The company says Painter is leaving “to pursue other business opportunities,” but most analysts say the departure is clearly tied to the financial crisis. Painter retains a position on the board of directors and, with Telescene president Robin Spry, still controls more than half the voting shares in the company.

Telescene has tapped veteran Wall Street manager Errol Glasser to try to grapple with the company’s financial problems, and he has joined the board to advise the company on an interim basis and to help find a replacement for Painter. Glasser was a managing director of investment banking at Kidder Peabody & Co. and has held exec positions at Revlon and the Trump Group.

Telescene has completed the $23 million financing necessary to complete the 22-episode series “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World,” which is distributed by New Line Television in the U.S., but the company has yet to finalize financing arrangements for many of its other projects, including the made-for-MTV series “Live Through This” (currently shooting in Montreal), “Big Wolf on Campus” and the action series “Matthew Blackheart: Monster Smasher,” which was originally set to shoot this summer but has now been delayed until at least early next year.

Grew very fast

“The short-term goal is to get the financing stabilized for the company,” said Glasser. “We’re taking each series one at a time. The company has grown up quickly from very small beginnings, and it goes back to the way the shows were financed. Your financing strategy has to change as the company grows and develops.”

Most analysts say the company has over-extended itself financially and has run into cash-flow problems.

Glasser said no show has been canceled yet, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility. There are also reports that Telescene is in the market for a buyer. TVA Group looked seriously at acquiring Telescene last year but eventually took a pass and instead bought Montreal production company Motion Intl. (now TVA Intl.).

Stock shock

Telescenes shares, which trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange, have also taken a hammering over the past few months.

They were trading as high as C$22.75 ($15.27) last fall and had dropped to 67¢ on Friday.

On July 31, the company announced disappointing first-quarter results. The company reported a net loss of $128,000 for the quarter, compared with net earnings a year earlier of $651,000.

Revenue was down for the quarter ended May 31 to $2.8 million, compared with $7.3 million in the same quarter the previous year.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content