Thursday, January 31, 2008

Flashpoint to CBS

While it may look like a simple knee jerk reaction to the lengthening WGA strike, I think today's news may be a sign of really changing times in the US television industry. CBS has partnered with Canadian network CTV to produce a new scripted crime drama Flashpoint. With a 13 episode commitment, and all writing and production to be executed in Canada, CBS has both the time and the luxury to hopefully create a really interesting new series with a decidedly different perspective. CBS claims that this foreign expansion plan has been in the works for a while now, and that they also intend to venture into production in England, Australia, and Israel. The significance of the deal might not seem like too much at the moment, but this kind of production outsourcing is a really new move for CBS. Following not just this strike, but the continuing lackluster, or more importantly slow, response to the extremely expensive crop of pilots each season, networks may see this kind of move as more and more viable. NBC CEO Jeff Zucker recently said that they intend to reduce the number of scripted pilots produced by his network, to possibly only 2 or 3 a year. And they also have a series in the works to be produced in the UK.

This move doesn't portend the end of tv as we know it, but it is a sign that things are changing. This writers strike will have a larger impact on the shape of American television that one might expect, new business models are being thrown into action on a seemingly daily basis; and despite the offical resolution to the strike, I don't thinnk things will ever return to exactly the way they were before. Let's just hope that these more systemic changes can spark creativity, and we get more unique voices on our screens in the near future.

Then again, we might just get a mountain of reality tv to wade through.

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