Joey Jeremiah resurfaces as producer Pat Mastroianni
By Samantha Yaffe
December 19, 2000
Trying to shed his relentless association with Degrassi High, Pat Mastroianni (aka Joey Jeremiah) recently returned to Toronto after four years in l.a. wearing a new hat and a new buzz-cut coif.
The former child actor, now 28 and engaged to be married, is for the first time taking a turn at producing with a new 13-part, half-hour teen series, Maximum Speed, a variety/documentary-style program that showcases youth in motorcross sports.
Coproducing the program with Dan Woods (who played Joey’s teacher Mr. Raditch on Degrassi), Mastroianni, who also hosts the series, says producing and directing is “definitely the direction I’d like to take my career.”
Conceived by Woods two years ago, the original plan for the series was to buy it airtime on CTV Sportsnet and sell the ad space. The show was, in fact, slated to air in September on Sportsnet, “but then all of a sudden,” says Mastroianni, “people started to take a real interest in it. Corporate sponsors wanted to jump on board – so the plan took a turn.”
While the series has yet to be placed, it is completed and Mastroianni says a broadcast and sponsorship deal is pending.
And while Mastroianni says he’s spent the past 10 years trying to escape his Joey Jeramiah persona, he hopes the show will attract former Degrassi fans.
He is also considering playing a part in a Degrassi reunion. Degrassi producer Epitome Pictures recently approached him about a reunion episode that could help bolster the coming Degrassi: The Next Generation series, an updated and multimedia version of the show.
Mastroianni is also the host of cbc’s Music Works, a variety show that highlights up-and-coming Canadian bands. Produced by Adele Cardamone, the show will likely return for a second run in May.
*Piperni jumps on the Blue Train with Cargo
David Piperni, formerly director of sales at Cambium Releasing, has joined forces with Blue Train Films, a Toronto-based prodco specializing in the production of long-form music programming for the international television market.
Under the terms of the new relationship, Blue Train will distribute all of its programming under Piperni’s New York-based international boutique distribution arm Cargo Releasing, which includes such music-related programming as product from New York record labels Putumayo World Music and Ryko Palm.
“Blue Train and Cargo are specialty shops with a passion for the subject of music and its personalities, stories,” says Blue Train president Daniel Berman. “This association allows Blue Train Films access to an international Rolodex of like-minded partners via Cargo Releasing.”
On the development slate for Blue Train is Musical Streets, a six-part series that explores how six landmark avenues gave shape to 20th century popular music.
African Jam is a six-part performance series coupling western musicians with prominent African musicians.
The Pianists is a 13-part performance arts series featuring some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians.
The company recently wrapped production on a documentary about legendary jazz saxophonist Dewey Redman for Vision tv and tvontario/tfo and Duos: The Jazz Sessions, a 13-part jazz performance series for tvo and Bravo! in Canada, Black Entertainment Television in the u.s. and Muzzik in France.
Piperni launched Cargo six months ago in New York and struck the 50-50 partnership deal with Blue Train in early November, enabling the Toronto-based producer to make the move from producing one project at a time to three or four.
*Lee makes feature debut with The Art of Woo
The Feature Film Project, a training initiative of the Canadian Film Centre, has selected for development The Art of Woo by cfc graduate and prolific short filmmaker Helen Lee.
A romantic comedy about an ambitious art dealer who meets her match in a gifted painter, the film will be refined under the creative mentorship of ffp executive producer Peter O’Brian.
Writer and director Helen Lee and producer Anita Lee also worked together on Helen’s cfc short Prey, which premiered at the 1995 Toronto International Film Festival.
Helen has written and directed a handful of other short films including her latest, Subrosa, which premiered at this year’s tiff, aired on cbc’s Canadian Reflections on Dec. 3 and will be broadcast on Showcase in the new year.
The Art of Woo is budgeted at roughly $450,000.
Since its inception in 1992, the ffp has produced eight features, including Cube, Rude and Blood & Donuts. The most recent film produced by the program, The Uncles, written and directed by Jim Allodi, with Nick de Pencier producing, made its world premier to critical acclaim at this year’s tiff.
The ffp is open to all first-time Canadian feature film writers, directors and producers.
Ottawa-based Sound Venture Productions’ The Toy Castle has been picked up by Treehouse tv for a second cycle of 26 half-hour episodes, to be produced by the end of 2001.
tfo has also confirmed plans to prelicense 26 new episodes of the French version, Le Chateau magique.
In its first two months on air, The Toy Castle ranked among the top 10 programs on Treehouse, says Susan Ross, vp and gm at the specialty.
The $2.7-million preschool series blends art, culture and traditional storytelling with music, dance and mime.
Sound Venture International, the company’s distribution arm, recently confirmed sales of the program to Israel (HOP! The Nursery Channel), Turkey (Digikids), India (Intellivision), Singapore (Eureka) and the u.k. (GMTV2).
The prototype for a fully interactive website based on the series will be launched late this month. The site is being produced by Pixelera.com of Ottawa with the support of Telefilm Canada’s Multimedia Development Fund.
In other renewal news, Decode Entertainment’s series Angela Anaconda (budgeted at roughly $500,000 an episode), which has garnered much acclaim and international success since its launch last year, has been picked up for season three by Teletoon in Canada and Fox Family in the u.s.
The 13-part, half-hour series, which follows eight-year-old Angela through life as she measures herself against a smug classmate, has also signed two new home video distribution deals for its first two seasons.
Universal Home Video in conjunction with France 3 – which holds the terrestrial rights to the series – will launch Angela in French-speaking Europe next year.
In the u.k., Channel 4 – which also holds terrestrial rights – and its video partner vci have secured the home video distribution rights for the u.k.
Angela’s website has also been making a splash, with Decode securing agreements with Germany’s Super rtl to develop a German version for 2001. Super rtl has already licensed the tv rights and is the video and merchandising agent for the series.
Elements of the website have also been licensed to international online broadcasters including Turner Broadband and Cartoon Network Europe for the u.k., Spain, France and Holland.
*Chapters hosts Fine Print
Carolyn Weaver, former editor of the Canadian Opera Company’s Arias Magazine, hosts and produces her first tv series, Fine Print.
Shooting in front of a live audience from a Toronto Chapters book store (Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave.) and airing on Rogers Television Cable 10 beginning Feb. 5, 2001, the 13-part series will showcase Canadian fiction writers.
Each episode will include a panel of one or two authors and a mix of talent from the Canadian entertainment industry who will offer their views on the books and writers on hand.
Alistair Macleod (No Great Mischief), Wayson Choy (The Jade Peony) and Russell Smith (winner of the 1997 National Magazine Award for Fiction) are among the writers featured in the $350,000 series.
Dana Robinson (Rushes – the Toronto International Film Festival coverage show) is coproducing the series, which is already creating a buzz because of its unique social outreach program developed to benefit women’s shelters in Toronto.
Through the program, a portion of the show’s corporate donations will be matched in book product both to create libraries in the shelters and provide Chapters gift certificates to underprivileged women and children.
Flare, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and Today’s Parent are among the series’ corporate sponsors.
*CBC offers Trudeau video
CBC News has produced a 104-minute video anthology of highlights from its coverage of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s death.
The video spans the first news of Trudeau’s death to the tributes in the House of Commons, the arrival of his body on Parliament Hill, the lying in state, the train ride to Montreal and the state funeral including Justin Trudeau’s eulogy.
Proceeds from video sales will be donated to a charity of the Trudeau family’s choosing.