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Possible strike stops Detroit production of TV pilot

Friday, July 04, 2008

Possible strike stops Detroit production of TV pilot

Filming in Detroit on the $10 million television pilot “The Saint” has been delayed until at least August because of a possible actors strike, the show’s producer said.

“We’re just now awaiting some word on the disposition of the Screen Actors Guild negotiations and then will proceed most likely in mid or late August,” Bill Macdonald, senior producer at Saint Productions Inc. said in an e-mail to Crain’s Detroit Business.

The two-hour television pilot, a remake of a 1960s British mystery-spy thriller television series, was supposed to film in Detroit in May and June.

Talks between Hollywood studios and television networks and the 120,000-member Screen Actors Guild broke off Monday, hours before the union’s deal expired with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The dispute centers on new media and DVD payments for actors. No strike vote has been taken.

The pilot, originally meant for the TNT network, is being independently produced and shopped around.

Filming was earmarked for Detroit to take advantage of the state’s new 42 percent rebate, which pays back 42 cents on every dollar spent in the state on approved productions.

Darryn Welch, CEO and producer of Berlin-based production and financing company Instinctive Film, which is also involved in “The Saint” pilot, declined comment. A call to Nehst Studios in New York City, another production and film finance company, was not returned.

Grace & Wild HD Studios in Farmington Hills was bidding against Hollywood on the film processing work for pilot. Such work typically costs $120,000 to $150,000, Ginny Hart, vice president of sales at Grace & Wild, previously told Crain’s. The studio has the state’s only film lab.

Hart couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. It’s unclear if the studio won the film processing job.

“James Bond” actor Roger Moore played the lead character, Simon Templar, in the 1960s British television series and is among the producers involved in the remake. A 1997 feature film of the same name starred Val Kilmer.

The new proposed series is set to star British actor James Purefoy, probably best known for his role as Mark Antony in HBO’s “Rome.”

Macdonald and writer Jorge Zamacona aligned with Moore and his son, Geoffrey, in 2004 to form Templar Entertainment Group, aimed at getting a new “Saint” series on television, according to the Web site and blog www.saint.org, which is devoted to the show, movies and novels by “Saint” creator Leslie Charteris.

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