In Production…

Building on the early success of Cottage Country, Ottawa, Canada-based Turner Thompson Entertainment is moving on to a wide variety of programming. The current slate ranges from war correspondents to furniture runways.
December 13, 2000

Since the debut of Ottawa, Canada-based prodco Turner Thompson Entertainment two years ago, co-founders Craig Thompson and Joe Turner have been hard at work building a reputation for their company at home and abroad. The successes of series such as Cottage Country and Grey Wolf Wilderness Adventures (both currently airing on Canada’s Outdoor Life Network) have helped open doors, and they are now busy developing and producing a variety of factual program.

Showrooms’ to the Trade Only is a one-hour special for Canada’s Home & Garden Television about furniture shows around the world. According to Thompson, the idea is to show consumers the 95% of home furnishings and accessories that they wouldn’t normally see at their local furniture stores. ‘It’s like home furnishings meets high fashion. If you picture [shows like] Fashion File or Fashion Television, this is the same kind of formula but applied to furniture.’

Thompson says that along with licensee HGTV, the Canadian furniture industry has kicked in financing for the program. Although TTE is currently producing only one hour, Thompson says he hopes to turn Showrooms into a 6 x 1-hour series. Shooting begins in April for a September 2001 delivery. The budget is around US$92,000.

Dispatches from the Front is the story of Matthew Halton, one of Canada’s great war correspondents from WWII. Halton, a CBC reporter, was one of the first correspondents to use the actual sounds of war and battle in his reports. ‘Before that it was very theatrical,’ Thompson notes.

Canada’s History Television has already signed on for the one-hour special. Like Showrooms, Thompson is hoping to turn Dispatches into a 6 x 1-hour series, each episode on a different war correspondent. In his opinion, it offers a new way of telling the stories of the Second World War. Thompson says several history broadcasters, including the History Channel in the U.K., expressed strong interest in Dispatches at MIPCOM, though they’re waiting to see the first hour. Budgeted at around US$98,000, TTE’s first historical doc has a June 2001 delivery date.

In a completely different vein, King of the Q is a 13 x 30-minute food/adventure series in which Ted Reader, the chef from Cottage Country, explores the culture and food of Jamaica. Thompson explains the inspiration for the series: ‘Most people think of the Caribbean as the place to go to sun yourself. But as more and more people shift away from sunbathing, they’re looking for other reasons to go – Jamaica has an incredible history of food, with jerk chicken and spices and rum, etcetera.’

Partnerships with Air Transat and the Jamaican tourism board are helping fund the series, and Canadian broadcaster CTV has also signed on. Thompson says he is currently seeking second window for the US$330,000 series. Always looking to the future, Thompson hopes to produce similar series based on the other Caribbean islands. TTE will deliver King of the Q in September.

In development at TTE is Planet Canada, an action-oriented series shot on DV about young Canadian expatriates and their exploits in different countries; and Cities of the Dead, travel investigative series about the secrets and mysteries of graveyards. No broadcasters have yet signed for either series.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.