CBS Has Till Oct. To Re-Up Flashpoint

PASADENA, Calif.–Getting a show on the air is murder. Keeping it there can take a miracle.

The folks behind Flashpoint seem ready to commit the one to get the other.
As was chronicled here earlier, executive producer Bill Mustos and four of his actors flew to L.A. to try to lobby their American network partners at CBS to get behind a third season of the series. The clock is ticking on that decision–CBS’s option on future seasons expires Oct. 1, as outlined in the story I wrote today for The Canadian Press.
Like it or not, Flashpoint is a big domino in the Canadian TV production scene. If it goes down, some believe it could take other Canadian-American network co-productions with it.
This is, in a way, ridiculous. A show is a show, and shows get canceled all the time. No one show needs the weight of a country on its shoulders.
Still, with the quick cancellation of The Listener on NBC, there is a growing fear that the window to big time U.S. network exposure that opened a crack during and following the U.S. writer’s strike might be about to slam shut.
That’s not what U.S. network executives are saying down here. Are they still open to doing co-productions with networks and producers from other countries willing to shoulder most of the production costs? Hell yes.
The fear, though, is that, as one U.S. critic suggested to me down here, Canada might become a place where networks can import a steady stream of “cheap failures.” Not that anybody sets out to make a flop–not even The CW–but since 80% of new TV shows fail anyway, why not gamble with other people’s money?
That’s not the kind of brand any Canadian producer or critic wants to get behind. All the more reason why Flashpoint stood so tall as the exceptional exception, the Canadian series that scored on U.S. TV. If it was owned and produced entirely by CBS, it would still be part of the network’s fall lineup. It may still claw its way back, if Mustos and company have their way–even if it winds up on ABC or U.S. cable instead of CBS.
The hard lesson so far is that Canadian-owned dramas and comedies are going to have to do better than good enough to stick to U.S. schedules. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

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