NBC Picks Up CTV’s The Listener

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The Listener (working title), a new CTV Original drama from Shaftesbury Films, will also air on NBC in the United States, it was confirmed today. It’s the second time this week a CTV-developed Canadian series has been picked up for broadcast on a major U.S. network in primetime.

Produced by Toronto’s Shaftesbury films, The Listener tells the story of a young man who can read people’s thoughts, and acts on them. It’s the first drama series from Shaftesbury Films to be broadcast in primetime on American network television. NBC has ordered 13 episodes of the one-hour drama series, which was green-lit by CTV last December. Set in Toronto, The Listener is currently in pre-production with shooting set to begin this spring.

“Two different series, two different American networks, two different producers – one huge success for CTV’s original development team,” said Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc. “It’s been an incredible week. Canadian television stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best content in the world. We have a long and successful relationship with Shaftesbury Films and we are proud to partner with them on bringing The Listener to such a wide audience.”

“We’re delighted The Listener will be broadcast by NBC in the U.S. and CTV in Canada. Shaftesbury has built strong relationships with U.S. networks over the years. This opportunity to partner with CTV and NBC on a primetime series is the next logical step,” said Christina Jennings, Chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury Films. “There seems to be a new pattern emerging at American TV networks, which have lately become more open to working with production companies outside the U.S.”

In The Listener, Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik, In God’s Country) is a young big-city paramedic with the power to listen to people’s thoughts. With his paramedic partner and best bud Osman Bey (Ennis Esmer, host of The Toronto Show) along for the ride, Toby juggles life as a telepathic sleuth with that of an urban twentysomething.

Created by Michael Amo (Blessed Stranger: After Flight 111), The Listener was developed by CTV with Shaftesbury Films beginning in 2006 with a pilot directed by Clement Virgo (The Wire, Poor Boys Game) produced last summer. The Listener was part of CTV’s first venture into pilot production in 2007. It was the first time CTV had ordered pilots as part of its development of new Canadian television series. The pilot order reinforced the network’s priority in delivering critically-acclaimed Canadian programming enjoyed by the largest audiences possible.

The Listener is produced by Shaftesbury Films, (producers of CTV’s No. 1 and No. 2 highest-rated TV movies, Eight Days to Live and In God’s Country) in association with CTV and NBC. Executive producers are Emmy and Gemini award-winning Christina Jennings (ReGenesis, The Murdoch Mysteries), Scott Garvie for Shaftesbury Films, Russ Cochrane (Whistler) and Michael Amo. The Listener is distributed in the United States by Program Partners.

Founded in 1987, Shaftesbury Films has established a reputation as one of Canada’s leading producers of high quality film and television programming. Recent productions include the new one-hour drama series Murdoch Mysteries for Citytv, the fourth season of the TV series ReGenesis for The Movie Network, Movie Central and Showcase; the TV movies In God’s Country and Eight Days to Live, both featuring Kelly Rowan and both delivering record breaking ratings for CTV; and The Robber Bride, the Emmy-nominated TV-movie starring Gemini award-winner Mary-Louise Parker, for CBC. Shaftesbury Films also produces a variety of kids’ programming, including the highly successful kids’ series Life with Derek, currently airing on Family Channel and Disney Channel, and broadcast in over 100 countries worldwide. Visit the Shaftesbury website at www.shaftesbury.ca.