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From the Niagara Falls Review

FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2005 – A9
(Your entertainment guide to - Niagara Hot Spots - what's happening around Niagara)

Paranomal-Themed Show Looks ‘Above Niagara’

By John Law, Review Staff Writer

Robert Tanos
Director Robert Tanos is polishing off the pilot
for his locally filmed paranormal series Above Niagara.
He said he hopes it’s among the first shows to air on TVN Niagara
... if the station gets approval from the CRTC.

ST. CATHARINES – If the TVN Niagara station gets approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, it has pledged at least 40 hours of original Niagara programming per week.

Robert Tanos already has several hours stockpiled.

The St. Catharines musician and filmmaker is deep into post-production on his weekly series Above Niagara, a paranormal soap opera which takes place in the fictional town of Port Niagara.

All that’s missing is a TV station to show it, which is where TVN and the CRTC come in. Tanos, along with everyone supporting the station, is anxiously awaiting word from the commission. Two years of his life hangs on the decision.

“I just came back from a doctor … my stress is way too high,” he said. “I’ve got everything on the line here. It’s very important.

“And, you know, it’s good for me, but I didn’t write (the show) just for me. I created an opportunity that spreads across the board.”

Above Niagara is poised to be the first truly Niagara series. It has an alllocal cast, shot in and around the region, and put together in Tanos’ Linwell Drive home, which doubles as his production company Producers Studio.

Two years ago, Tanos was looking to follow up his indie horror flick Forever Love – shot in the early ‘90s and screened on Canadian station Space in 2002. When he heard about TVN Niagara, he contacted its president, Wendell Wilks, about original programming.

Wilks asked Tanos to make a promotional video for the channel, and gave him access to high-definition equipment for six weeks.

Tanos asked permission to film a TV pilot he had been kicking around. Wilks not only agreed, but gave Tanos complete ownership of the show (meaning if TVN doesn’t pick it up, Tanos can shop it around to other networks).

Above Niagara takes a sci-fi standby - lights in the sky - and builds a dramatic series around it. Characters in Port Niagara all react differently to the event, from the boy who believes an alien invasion is imminent to the girl who can suddenly play music.

Some faiths are shaken, lives disrupted and secrets exposed. What it doesn’t have, at least not yet, is an ending.

“I could have pitched a movie that had an ending and it would all be done,” said Tanos.

But as filming progressed, he realized it could be a weekly TVN series. Wilks agreed, and has promised to screen the pilot episode on TVN’s first night of programming – if there is one.

“That is the big hope,” he said. “However, because nobody else owns a part of this production, if TVN does not get a licence I have a great project to pitch to any of the other stations.”

Tanos believes the climate is right for Canadian-made prime time shows on our TVs. Though the CH nightly drama Train 48 was canceled this month, it lasted 318 episodes.

The show also has a big advantage by filming in high definition (HD). By 2007, all Canadian broadcasters must have 100 percent high definition programming.

“Right now, if you’re a producer and you have HD programming, your stock goes up by the day as we get closer to 2007,” said Tanos.

But Tanos realizes this is a huge risk. Even with a cast and crew donating their time, the show has cost him an estimated $15,000 so far. Above Niagara is a show without a home, searching the skies for a signal to cling to.

“Come September, we hope to know what’s going on with this.”

If TVN gets the green light, the show could premiere next fall and Tanos could begin filming additional episodes in two months.

The waiting game will be worth it when his show anchors a historic night of Niagara television.

“The amazing thing is that all of this has come to be without a formal budget,” he said.

“I’m 50, and at this age I’m learning that if you’re tenacious enough, if you keep pushing and pushing, people will catch on to the energy.”


Listen to TVN's CEO Wendell Wilks on a radio interview from CHSC.
A terrific interview in MP3 format, which you can stream from our site or download in four segments.

To download these files, please RIGHT-CLICK on the link and select "Save Target As" to save the MP3 files onto your computer.
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