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SARS Spooks Toronto Shoots

By Peter Caranicas

As BTL went to press, fear of SARS was steering some productions away from Toronto.

Matt Miller, President/CEO of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), said he spoke to several commercial production companies reconsidering shoots that were scheduled to lens north of the border. “Absolutely, some productions have decided not to go. As executive producer, you are taking responsibility for the well-being of your crew as well as your clients, and you have to weigh all the risks.”

Some TV shows and features are also planning to relocate away from Toronto, according to a highly placed source. Two such moves reported so far include the TNT remake of Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl, which is heading west—to Vancouver—and Miramax’s Shall We Dance, which is shifting production to Winnipeg.

But unlike commercial shoots, long-form programs cannot turn on a dime. According to Dick Askin, President/CEO of Tribune Entertainment, the TV series Mutant X—a coproduction of Tribune Entertainment and Toronto-based Fireworks Entertainment—is still planning to start production June 9th in Toronto. “Commercials have flexibility. While SARS is certainly a concern, it probably won’t change many long-term production plans,” said Askin, who is also Vice Chair at the TV Academy and Chair of its Runaway Production Committee.

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