School's Back at Degrassi: TV's Most-Watched Canadian Drama Returns Sept. 19 on CTV

School’s Back at Degrassi: TV’s Most-Watched Canadian Drama Returns Sept. 19 on CTV
Toronto, ON (September 1, 2005)

Fresh from a summer vacation filled with multiple award wins and a hugely successful U.S. tour, it’s back-to-school this fall for Degrassi: The Next Generation. Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Degrassi franchise, the internationally- acclaimed series returns with 19 new half-hour episodes airing Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET, beginning Sept. 19 on CTV (check local listings).

The 25th Anniversary of the franchise will be marked by a one-hour documentary on CTV airing Sept. 17 as well as with the new companion book Degrassi: Generations, set to be released Sept. 6.

It’s a Canadian power hour on Mondays on CTV with Degrassi: The Next Generation, Canada’s most-watched original drama, scheduled to immediately follow Corner Gas, Canada’s most-watched comedy series (Mondays at 8 p.m. ET). Last season, Degrassi: The Next Generation became the Number One Canadian drama for Teens (T12-17) and Adults (A18-34, A18-49 and A25-54).* The provocative Nov. 30 episode (dealing with oral sex) brought in almost one million viewers, the series’ most-watched episode ever. Season Four also garnered international media attention with celebrity guest appearances by Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and Alanis Morissette. Now, the series is set to celebrate its 100th episode in an all-new season.

In Season Five, the first class of students from Degrassi: The Next Generation will finally graduate. The new season begins with Manny anxious to pursue an acting career. Unfortunately, she is not prepared for the harsh realities of the industry and contemplates plastic surgery. Meanwhile, Craig receives an unexpected birthday present from Ashley and another character struggles with an unplanned pregnancy. Dealing with topics involving sexuality, drugs, religion and self-esteem, Degrassi continues to tackle tough issues in a realistic way.

“Not only are we proud of the accolades that Degrassi has received this past year, but also in how the series continues to evolve,” said Susanne Boyce, President of Programming for CTV and Chair of the Media Group. “It’s been five years and Degrassi is still pushing boundaries, still getting teens talking about really important issues.”

In July, Degrassi: The Next Generation bested four American series to win “Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming” at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Awards in Los Angeles. This marks only the second time that a non-American series has won an award in this category – the first being Degrassi Junior High in 1988. Three weeks later, Degrassi: The Next Generation topped 11 U.S. nominees at the Teen Choice Awards and brought home the coveted Teen Choice surfboard as “Choice Summer Series.” This marks the first time a Canadian series has ever been nominated for – and won – this award.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Degrassi franchise, CTV will broadcast an original documentary, The Degrassi Story on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. ET (check local listings). Classic Degrassi alumnus Stefan Brogren (currently featured in Degrassi: The Next Generation) leads viewers on a retrospective look at life with Degrassi over the past quarter-century. Brogren goes on the road, reconnecting with other Classic Degrassi cast members while providing a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of current cast members of the latest incarnation of the franchise.

“Timing and good fortune have played a hugely important role in the success of Degrassi over the years,” said Linda Schuyler, President, Epitome Pictures Inc. “My single best fortune is to have had 25 years to work with a large group of talented, open, honest, funny, endearing, Canadian teenagers who have allowed two generations of international audiences the privilege of watching them grow up on television.”

Twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations are in full swing with a back to school “must-have” item for Degrassi fans, the official Degrassi:T.N.G Student Planner. Chocked full of fun facts, photos and important dates, the planner is currently available in stores across Canada. As well, Degrassi: Generations, an illustrated history and the “Official 411” of the Degrassi franchise from its beginning 25 years ago to the present, debuted August 29 during a special Degrassi event at the CNE Bandshell and hits stores September 6 from Fenn Publishing / Madison Press.

The Degrassi: T.N.G. cast is halfway through a U.S. tour that, when it is over, will have hit 12 cities in 12 weeks. Each stop features an autograph booth and a trivia centre where fans can win exclusive Degrassi merchandise. An August stop in Los Angels drew over 4,000 fans and a July stop in Orlando drew an incredible response as almost 1,000 fans waited three hours to meet their favourite stars. Proof of the excitement that the series is generating south of the border: on the day of the event, the local retailer took down their Harry Potter displays and replaced them with Degrassi DVD sets. Dates for the second half of the tour are as follows: Detroit (September 10), Boston (September 17), Chicago (September 23), New Jersey (September 24) and Baltimore (October 1). Fans are encouraged to log on to the Degrassi website, http://www.degrassi.tv, for more mall tour details.

With nearly 400,000 registered users, the Degrassi website has won several awards, including the 2003 Gemini for Most Popular Website as well as the Best Interactive Award in 2002 and 2003. Produced by Snap Media in association with CTV, Telefilm, and the Bell Fund, http://www.degrassi.tv provides enhanced storytelling on the web in timed synchronization with television broadcasts around the world. Degrassi’s online community continues to interact inside the virtual Degrassi school in record numbers through the creation of personalized locker pages, journal entries, d-mails and messages posted on the club message boards. In addition, these virtual students are able to visit the online guidance office for help and advice on a huge range of topics that includes everything from gossip to gay parents (offered through affiliated sites such as Health Canada, Kids Help Hotline and the Media Awareness Network).

Degrassi: The Next Generation stars Sarah Barrable-Tishauer as Liberty; Deanna Casaluce as Alex; Lauren Collins as Paige; Ryan Cooley as JT; Jake Epstein as Craig; Stacey Farber as Ellie; Jake Goldsbie as Toby; Aubrey Graham as Jimmy; Shane Kippel as Spinner; Andrea Lewis as Hazel; Mike Lobel as Jay; Miriam McDonald as Emma; Adamo Ruggiero as Marco; and Cassie Steele as Manny. Also returning are Dalmar Abuzeid as Danny and Shenae Grimes as Darcy. Jamie Johnston will be a new addition to the cast as Peter.

Also returning are Stefan Brogren as Archie “Snake” Simpson; Pat Mastroianni as Joey Jeremiah; and Amanda Stepto as Snake’s missus, Christine “Spike” Nelson. Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes return as guest stars and eTalk Daily’s Tanya Kim makes a special guest appearance.

Degrassi: The Next Generation is produced by Epitome Pictures in association with CTV. The series was co-created by Linda Schuyler, co-producer of the original Degrassi series, and Yan Moore. Schuyler and Stephen Stohn serve as Executive Producers. Kathleen Meek is the CTV production executive working with the series. Bill Mustos is Senior Vice-President, Dramatic Programming for CTV. Susanne Boyce is President of CTV Programming and Chair of the Media Group. Degrassi: The Next Generation has been successfully licensed in Britain, France, the U.S and Australia by AAC Kids, an Alliance Atlantis Division.

Epitome Pictures and its affiliate companies have been producing quality Canadian programming since 1976, including the multi-award winning, internationally recognized Degrassi franchise, The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, which still air throughout the world. Epitome Pictures has also produced the series Liberty Street and Riverdale as well as several MOWs.

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