U.S. network conference calls are always a bit of a crap shoot. You never know what you’re going to get, and if you’re a Canadian journalist, you never know if you’re going to get to ask a question. I’ve been on a few this week, including today’s chat with the stars and producers of Flashpoint, the CTV/CBS elite police squad series and the success story of the summer on both sides of the border.
On the call were four proud and happy Canadians: stars Enrico Colantoni (Sgt. Gregory Parker) and Hugh Dillon (Ed Lane) along with executive producers Anne Marie La Traverse and Bill Mustos. CBS and CTV are re-launching it into a busy mix in January.
The way these media calls work, you are invited to join, given a password and a number and then you log in by keying they “*” sign and “1” which places you in line to pose questions. CBS, which administered today’s session, are equal opportunity hosts (unlike Fox, which shutout all Canucks from yesterday’s Simon Cowell press call–although, to be fair, that was a packed session). I was the second journalist into the Flashpoint mix.
The first guy, somebody named Troy Rogers from Vancouver-based thedeadbolt.com, almost caused an international incident with his awkward opener:
ROGERS: Are you guys surprised at the success of the show given the Canadian element?
COLANTONI: Excuse me?
DILLON: You heard him.
COLANTONI (surprised): …given the Canadian element???
Rogers tried to clarify by suggesting that you don’t often see shows clearly set in Canadian cities on American network television. (Flashpoint occassionally flashes Queens Park or The CN Tower, giving away its Toronto locale.) Colantoni jumped back on message, saying he wasn’t surprised at all, that the show deals with universal themes, that they’re responsible policemen, yadda yadda yadda. Then Deadbolt guy steps in it again:
ROGERS: Does it in some kind of way feel like you’re honoring some old [Canadian] shows like the ghost of Night Heat?
DILLON (laughs). No. Maybe Gunsmoke.
COLANTONI: Maybe Mannix.
Maybe Hilarious House of Frightenstein, I suggested later.
Night Heat, for anyone under 40, was a gritty little cop show that aired on CTV and briefly on CBS in the late ’80s/early ’90s. It starred Jeff Wincott and Scott Hylands, right, and reruns on TVTropolis or DejaView now and then. It incubated at least one major talent, actor/director Clark Johnson (The Shield, The Wire).
Colantoni, who grew up in Toronto and went to Henry Carr High School, went with the question, suggestion Flashpoint “is prettier than Night Heat. People watched Night Heat at 11 o’clock at night I think. I don’t remember Night Heat. You can compare it to Due South–that was a good Canadian show that appealed to a broader audience…” At which point Dillon broke in with, “W e’re going to break up into discussion groups Rico, just let me know.”
So a fascinating Canadian TV history lesson for scribes in on the call south of the border. Producers La Traverse and Mustos went on to say Toronto landmarks such as the Ontario Place Cinesphere and the Toronto Stock Exchange play a part in this season’s location shoots, and they hinted that something happens to Jules Callahan (Amy Jo Johnson) around the fourth episode. Johnson and her hubby just welcomed their first child Dec. 1.
Flashpoint returns with new episodes Friday, Jan. 9 at 9 p.m.