You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Canucks on a syndie crime spree

Program Partners pitching 'Squad,' 'Stone' at NATPE

On the heels of a hot November ratings book for its syndie series “Da Vinci’s Inquest,” indie distrib Program Partners has once again plumbed the Great White North for two procedural dramas to introduce Stateside.

Off-net Canuck hours “Cold Squad” and “Stone Undercover” will try to lock up primetime and latenight slots on U.S. stations at the upcoming NATPE trade show in Las Vegas as part of the company’s “Crime Watch” programming brand. Big Three affils may be interested for their latenight slots; UPN, the WB and Fox may consider primetime periods.

“Cold Squad” has been airing on CTV for eight years, having amassed 98 episodes, while “Stone Undercover,” which aired on Global for two seasons and is now on Canuck cable, boasts 26 episodes ready to syndicate.

Idea with Crime Watch is to provide TV stations with a pipeline of fresh procedural dramas not yet seen in the U.S. to accompany reruns of hot off-net properties like “CSI.”

“There clearly is a dearth of original firstrun and even of off-net material out there for ‘the out years’ — ’08 and beyond,” said Ritch Colbert, one of the founders of Production Partners and a veteran of the syndie trenches.

Colbert told Daily Variety that Production Partners has so far cleared about 20 markets with the two new shows, but is holding back on making a big announcement until nearer to NATPE in late January.

A half-dozen other projects, all from major studios, have already charged into the syndie fray, but they are in the talk and court genres. The only competition for the slots Colbert wants will be from other off-net and off-cable dramas coming into syndication, such as “Without a Trace,” “The Shield” and “Strong Medicine.”

Weekends in U.S. syndication have lately been dominated by off-net reruns of primetime hits “CSI,” “24” and “Alias”; very little original material has been made available since the firstrun action hour genre (“Andromeda,” “X-Mutant”) dried up five years ago.

“The dominant trend in network television and now in syndication is the rapid growth of procedural crime drama blocks,” said Josh Raphaelson, the other principal in two-year-old Program Partners.

The two Canuck-originated series are designed to air in primetime on weekends, replacing down-trending movie showcases on UPN, the WB and Fox, or in latenight on Big Three affiliates, Colbert said.

“Da Vinci’s Inquest” has done better paired with “CSI” reruns than either “24” or “Alias,” Raphaelson noted.

To give stations programming and scheduling flexibility, Program Partners will provide Crime Watch affils a choice of satellite feeds, with two different episodes of “Cold Squad” and one of “Stone Undercover” available each week. Neither show has been seen Stateside.

Colbert said his company has locked up several additional Canuck properties for exploitation Stateside and, in a few cases, will come in on projects at the front end.

Colbert grew up in the syndie biz, working first with his father, Dick Colbert Sr., now 82, at Colbert TV Sales. Colbert fils later worked at Access Syndication and Orion, among others. Raphaelson, too, has been in the syndie biz for some two decades.

Colbert and Raphaelson’s company is one of just a handful of indie players that have found new ways to approach the syndication biz in the wake of massive consolidation of studios and station groups. (Others include Debmar, Litton, October Moon and Perrin.)

“Cold Squad” (which long preceded Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Cold Case”) features a female central character, Sgt. Ali McCormick (Julie Stewart), leading a team of forensic pathologists who resolve long-abandoned cases. Show has garnered more than 30 Gemini noms in Canada.

“Stone Undercover” is based on the exploits of a pair of commercial crime fighters. Recalling “Moonlighting,” the series revolves around the relationship between an ex-cop (and ex-con) and his female boss. Series stars Chris William Martin (“Felicity”) and Janet Kidder (“Earth: Final Conflict”).

“Da Vinci’s Inquest” is one of the top new weekly shows in U.S. syndication. Airing in 98% of the U.S., it consistently ranks among the top four weekly dramas in syndication.

Produced by Haddock Entertainment and Barna-Alper Prods., “Da Vinci’s Inquest,” in which coroner Dominic Da Vinci (Nicholas Campbell) solves crimes, has been one of the most widely honored series in Canadian television.

Program Partners is marketing the shows as part of its worldwide distrib pact with Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films.

More TV

  • 'NYPD Blue' Sequel Pilot Casts Fabien

    'NYPD Blue' Sequel Pilot Casts Fabien Frankel in Lead Role

    The “NYPD Blue” pilot at ABC has cast newcomer Fabien Frankel in the role of Theo Sipowicz, Variety has confirmed. Theo is the son of Andy Sipowicz, who was played in the original series by Dennis Franz. Like his father he is described as a hard-drinking, hard-headed, and quick-witted cop. Frankel joins previously announced cast members Alona Tal, Bill Brochtrup, [...]

  • Bradley Whitford photographed at the PMC

    Bradley Whitford on the 'Obligation' to Speak Out Politically

    Having starred on Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing” for seven seasons, Bradley Whitford is certainly no stranger to political television. Now he’s in two more such series: Nat Geo’s exploration of the dot-com era, “Valley of the Boom” in which he plays real-life Netscape CEO James Barksdale, as well as Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” in [...]

  • 'Vikings' Alum Travis Fimmel Among 10

    'Vikings' Alum Travis Fimmel Among 10 Cast in TNT Drama 'Raised by Wolves'

    TNT has set 10 cast members for the Ridley Scott-produced drama “Raised by Wolves.” The show, which was ordered straight-to-series in October, centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling [...]

  • Julie Souza Jerry DiMeglio

    Wheelhouse Entertainment Appoints Julie Souza, Jerry DiMeglio To C-Suite

    Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Entertainment is firming up its executive suite with two major appointments, tapping Julie Souza to become chief operating officer and Jerry DiMeglio as its chief financial officer. Souza will oversee the company’s operations, and have a hand in corporate and strategic planning, as well as business development. She most recently was senior [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    BritBox Subscribers Hit Half a Million

    The number of subscribers to BritBox has hit 500,000, the streaming service said Thursday. The platform, launched as a collaboration between BBC Studios and ITV, is designed to offer U.S. and Canadian viewers the best of recent and classic British television content. The streaming service launched in the U.S. in March 2017 with a host of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content