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Friday, December 15, 2006
 

Pink Panther 2 to shoot in Montreal?


The Gazette (Montreal)
December 15, 2006 Friday
Final Edition
ARTS & LIFE: PREVIEW; Pg. D7
Pink Panther debate chases its tail: Possible local shoot. Conflicting accounts over impact of labour uncertainty
BRENDAN KELLY, The Gazette

The sequel to The Pink Panther might shoot in Montreal this spring. Or it might not.

John Barrack, chief negotiator for the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, said the Steve Martin comedy was set to shoot here but that the studio, Sony Pictures, has decided to bypass Montreal because of the possibility of an actors' strike. The Canadian producers' association is currently in negotiations with ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the country's main actors' union. If no deal is reached by Dec. 31, the actors could be on strike early next year.

But Montreal-born filmmaker Shawn Levy said the allegation from the producers' association is simply not true.

"That is totally groundless," said Levy, who directed The Pink Panther, the hit film that revived the comedy franchise this year. Levy is one of the producers on the sequel and may also direct the new instalment [sic].

"There is no script yet approved by Steve (Martin) or the studio or me," Levy said. "There have been no conversations about where it's going to shoot. I'm thrilled that The Pink Panther did well enough to merit a sequel, but the future of it as far as who's directing and where it's going to shoot, that's totally up in the air at least into January."

Jean Bonini, executive vice-president (labour relations) at Sony Pictures, said Montreal was high on the list of potential sites for the Pink Panther sequel's shoot, but the studio won't shoot the Paris-set film here if ACTRA does not have a deal in place with the producers.

"Montreal and Quebec for Pink Panther makes a lot of sense because of the whole look," Bonini said. "But you're not going to walk into spending millions of dollars to have your production interrupted. There's too much money at stake. It just doesn't make sense. (Montreal) is on the list for consideration, but the stumbling block is the insecurity in connection with the labour agreement, and unless that is removed, it's on the list but it's got negatives that would keep us out."

Brian Baker, business agent at the Directors Guild of Canada, said his contacts in the biz tell him The Pink Panther is coming to Montreal and that "this is just posturing from the producers' association." Baker's view is that the Americans will keep coming even if there is no agreement between ACTRA and the producers. The Hollywood producers could make deals on a film-by-film basis with ACTRA even if there is no signed collective agreement.

Raymond Guardia, regional director for ACTRA in Quebec, suggested the producers' association is simply trying to put pressure on the actors' union by announcing that Montreal has lost The Pink Panther shoot.

"I'm getting a little impatient with this stuff," said Guardia, who was in Toronto yesterday negotiating with the producers. "It's a tactic they always play. But why keep playing these games? It undermines the work we've done at the bargaining table. It's reckless."

The negotiations are set to continue today and resume Monday through Wednesday in Toronto. Both ACTRA and the producers' association say they are making progress, after a slow start, but the two sides have yet to move beyond non-monetary concerns to the tougher issues dealing with actors' salaries.

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