Eye’s maple-leaf alliance

Canuck producer recruited to 'C.S.I.' team

Canadian production house Alliance Atlantis has signed on to co-produce the upcoming CBS crime drama “C.S.I.,” following Touchstone’s decision to bail out of the project.

Touchstone didn’t believe that producing “C.S.I.” made financial sense, given the hourlong’s sluggish international sales (Daily Variety, June 23). CBS had given a standard 13-episode order to the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced series, which CBS Prods. was to co-produce with Touchstone.

The Mouse House studio had been prepared to stay as a co-producer if CBS had been unable to find a new partner. But with Alliance Atlantis signing on, Touchstone was free to cut ties with the project.

Some industry execs believe the move is just one more sign of these vertically integrated times. Touchstone Television, which falls under the ABC Entertainment Television Group, has made no secret of its priority to supply programming for sister ABC.

As a result, it’s doubtful CBS will consider Touchstone product in the near future. After shedding “C.S.I.,” all of Touchstone’s new fall series will be produced for ABC. Among returning skeins, the studio still produces “Felicity” and “Popular” for the WB and “Daddio” for NBC.

Sources said Touchstone’s name will even be removed from the series’ pilot, even though the studio did have a hand in that episode. Alliance Atlantis will co-produce the remaining 12 episodes of “C.S.I.” and distribute the series internationally.

“We are passionate about this project and couldn’t be more pleased to have partners who share our enthusiasm,” Bruckheimer said.

Alliance Atlantis, which distributes the Eye’s program catalog in Canada, produced the first-run dramedy “Due South” for CBS. The company also produced Eye movies and miniseries such as “Joan of Arc” and “Forget Me Never,” and first-run syndicated product distributed by CBS including “Peter Benchley’s Amazon” and “Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal.”

“CBS and Alliance Atlantis have built a great relationship over the years,” said Alliance Atlantis Entertainment prexy Peter Sussman. “It’s especially great to be expanding this relationship with a network series.”

CBS Entertainment prexy Nancy Tellem, who also heads up CBS Prods., said the Eye looked forward to working with Alliance Atlantis.

“They are a first-class organization and have been great partners with us in the past on a variety of projects.”

“C.S.I.” stars William Petersen as a senior forensics officer who leads a group of crime-scene investigators in Las Vegas. Bruckheimer, Ann Donahue and Carol Mendelsohn executive produce. Petersen is also a producer on the skein.