Little Mosque producers strike deal with Fox
Last Updated: Monday, June 9, 2008 | 3:29 PM CT
The Canadian Press
U.S. network Fox has agreed to create an Americanized version of Little Mosque on the Prairie, which features Sarah (Sheila McCarthy, left) and Rayaan (Sitara Hewitt). (CBC)The producers of the gentle CBC sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie have announced a deal with Twentieth Century Fox Studios to create an Americanized version of the show on the Fox network.
"It's taken a long time to get here, some due to the writers' strike and some due to just making sure that we had the right collaborator," Mary Darling, head of Westwind Pictures, said after announcing the Little Mosque deal Monday at the Banff World Television Festival.
"The reason we pursued a deal with this studio is because we really feel we've found people who are in synch with us on the vision of the show. They're very earnest in terms of getting the tone of the show right, and yet they want to make it as funny as possible in order for it to play to a wide audience."
The CBC show, about a community of devout Muslims living in a small prairie town, won't be changed drastically for an American audience, Darling added.
"It'll be Little Mosque in Minnesota, if I have my way," the Minnesota-born Darling said with a laugh.
The deal also involves another Westwind Pictures show currently in development — Fox will help Westwind develop the show and then determine whether it wants to buy it.
A year ago, U.S. cable network the CW debuted the critically acclaimed Aliens in America, which explores Americans' cultural ignorance of the Muslim community.
Fox is the most popular U.S. network with younger viewers and the broadcaster of shows such as Mad TV and Family Guy, not noted for their cultural sensitivity.
Darling speculated that by securing the Little Mosque deal, Fox was "trying to broaden their horizons and become a bit more of a serious player."
Temple Street, BBC deal
The deal was one of a flurry announced Monday at the festival. BBC Worldwide and Toronto's Temple Street Productions revealed that they'd entered into a development partnership.
BBC Worldwide has acquired a minority stake in Temple Street, which is already producing the Canadian version of the BBC hit series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? The reality show, hosted by Gavin Crawford, premieres this weekend on CBC.
Sofia Milos, shown as Special Agent Bianca La Garda in The Border, won the Banff World Television Festival's award of excellence. (CBC)BBC Worldwide already bid successfully for international distribution rights to Temple Street's time-travel drama The Session, debuting in January on CBC.
Toronto-based Shaftesbury Films, the country's biggest producer of dramatic and children's programming, announced it had bought Smokebomb Entertainment, a developer of original, multi-platform digital content.
Sofia Milos honoured
Sofia Milos from The Border was honoured with the festival's excellence award at a glitzy luncheon at the historic Banff Springs Hotel, the home of the festival.
Brent Butt of Corner Gas fame won the Peter Ustinov Comedy Award.
"When you're honoured, it's hard not to feel honoured by it," Butt said with a laugh. "I'm honoured and humbled and it's a tremendous award ... I'm sure they've mistaken me for someone else, but I'll take it."
Among other awards announced at the luncheon:
- Blueprint Entertainment, the producers of shows including Kenny vs. Spenny and Whistler, was given the the Lionsgate/Maple Pictures Innovative Producer Award.
- ABC Studios, the producer behind such hits as Desperate Housewives and Lost, was given the outstanding achievement award.
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