Showrunner Emily Andras

Has Canada found its Outlander? Lost Girl showrunner takes on Nora Roberts

Has Omnifilm Entertainment found Canada’s Outlander? Everyone at the production company are crossing their fingers and going all in on Nora Roberts’ Blood Magick and snagged former Lost Girl showrunner Emily Andras to head it up.

Omnifilm, which has produced homegrown series like Arctic Air, Ice Pilots NWT, Robson Arms, Primeval: New World, Defying Gravity and Edgemont, announced earlier this year that they had secured the rights to Roberts’ The Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy. Set in Ireland, the books spotlight sorcerer cousins Iona, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer as they take on the dark sorcerer Cabhan; Blood Magick is the third book title. Of course, fans of Lost Girl know Andras, who departed showrunning duties on the Showcase drama after Season 4.

“If I had my druthers I would only work on a show in the female-driven genre going forward and Blood Magick really ticks all of those boxes,” she says. “It’s all about the power of magic, it has an incredibly strong female protagonist, it has very high stakes and themes of family and love. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s set in one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland.”

She jokes it wasn’t until she signed on to develop and executive-produce Blood Magick that her mom finally understood what her daughter did for a living.

“My mother was a librarian and has read everything that Nora Roberts has written,” Andras says. “I think she thought I fixed TVs … I’m not sure. But now she’s like, ‘Look, Andras, you better not screw this up.'” One could excuse Andras for being nervous about adapting Roberts’ works into a TV series; there are more than 500 million copies of her 200-plus novels in print and every book she has released since 1999 has been on the New York Times bestseller list. And while the Toronto-based TV writer, who has worked on everything from Instant Star and Degrassi: TNG to King and the upcoming Killjoys admits to being a little nervous, she’s received nothing but support from the woman who wrote the source material.

Blood_Magick_Cover

“I had the pleasure of speaking to Nora Roberts and she is such a professional,” Andras recalls. “She could not have been so supportive insofar as, yes, the world and the characters are there and that’s what really set the books apart and makes them so incredible, but she understands that because you’re going to a visual medium some things will change.”

Andras is currently working on the adaptation. There’s no time-frame attached to when Blood Magick will debut on the small screen, but according to Omnifilm partner Brian Hamilton, broadcasters are already lining up to talk about possible partnerships.

Blood Magick is one of a number of scripted series in development at Omnifilm that include Pacific Spirit, a family drama tied to CBC; Lovejoy, an adaptation of Jonathan Gash’s mystery novels; Beowulf, a serialized drama for The Movie Network and Movie Central; Homegrown Terrorist, set in the world of domestic terrorism and law enforcement; Corrective Measures, a superhero drama developed from Arcana Comics’ series; and The Last Spike, a miniseries based on Pierre Berton’s historical novel.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
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11 thoughts on “Has Canada found its Outlander? Lost Girl showrunner takes on Nora Roberts”

  1. This project sounds intriguing. I like female-driven supernatural shows although I admit that I’m not a fan of Lost Girl so I hope it’s not in the same vein. Is it attached to a Canadian broadcaster yet?

  2. First, I’m a big fan of Emily’s. Don’t know the books, and I’m sure that they’ll get placed somewhere. But it does raise an issue regarding coverage that I think is worth noting.

    We are in many ways still growing (mostly because of online writers) a culture of how behind-the-scenes business gets reported.

    In the USA, you have Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline and other outlets reporting just about every move of talent & properties amongst networks & studios.

    In Canada over the last few years we’ve gone from a completely opaque, almost blackout-level lack of coverage to spottiness that sometimes obscures more than it reveals.

    -For example – as Kate Taylor wrote about a couple weeks ago… in the USA the ratings get released and you get guys like Marc Berman crunching the numbers and parsing the spin. But here, networks mostly only release numbers when they’re good. And they send out duelling press releases to big-up their triumphs, but try to bury everything else. It’s an inconsistency that sometimes has people quoting partial numbers to bolster arguments. Especially in a Canadian context where the overnights only cover a few cities and PVR use (which rarely gets reported in the form of revised numbers) isn’t factored in, I’m not sure how useful those comparisons ever get. (Especially when it’s viewers throwing the numbers around to try and make, or refute a point. Stats are fungible.)

    -Used to be you never, ever knew what Canadian nets had in development. Now they’re releasing slates, which is generally a positive thing (any more transparency is positive) but I’m not sure those slates are being contextualized when they’re being reported. I won’t be the first to cynically note that sometimes it’s all about saying, “see, we’re doing stuff!”

    -So it comes to articles like this. In a lot of cases, what winds up as “industry news” here comes as a press release. And there’s not any consistency as to when people send out press releases.

    Do you say that you’ve signed to develop something with a production company? What does that mean? Is it really real until you have a network on board?

    Right now it’s dependent mostly on what the company does. Some companies play close to their vest until it’s in development with a network — because then it’s “real.” Essentially without that you’re reporting on something being “pitched around.” But there are hundreds of series being “pitched around” at any time.

    I worry sometimes that as frustrating as the “blackout” days of no information about Canadian TV was, this new era of, one company trumpets their pitches to Playback, while another waits until its greenlit for production gives a distorted picture to interested viewers who even want to follow along. If a trumpeted “development show” with a showrunner attached goes nowhere — does that help or hurt both the professionals making shows, and the professionals trying to chronicle the industry?

    I don’t know. But the ground is certainly shifting. And shall continue to do so.

    1. I’d rather we err on the side of providing interesting information to the audience and not treating the industry like it’ll all crash down if facts are exposed. And to be clear we contacted Emily for this interview – it’s not a press release.

  3. It’s clear from the quotes that they weren’t canned presser quotes, but I elided that badly in my comment. Apologies for inadvertently suggesting you were cut and pasting a press release. That was certainly not my intention.

    I also didn’t suggest you should do anything differently.

    Maybe all prodcos should trumpet stuff they’re pitching around. I don’t know. Would that be good? Maybe, maybe not. I’m not afraid of facts. I’d love it if all the ratings & development data were known like in the USA, but that’s not the situation here, is it? Half transparency doesn’t necessarily give a clearer picture, is what I’m saying. It makes context even harder to come by, but is a by product of trying to shine a light on a field that was once entirely dark. Announcements of shows that then fade away because they don’t get picked up can also be said to dull the very excitement we’re all trying to build. There’s good, and bad points to it.

    And the “treating the industry like it will all crash down” stuff you’re spinning out of whole cloth. Where did I suggest that’s what you were doing? But I gather from other things you’ve recently said that the worm has turned, and once again I’ve been installed on the DW shitlist, where I’m not supposed to be part of the conversation about how things get covered for some reason.

    I meant the most benign version of what I said. I’ve offered constant and unending praise for the efforts of TV-eh, the work of you and your colleagues. I’ve championed you for writing work elsewhere — and will continue to do so — all while never suggesting or intimating that I should have influence over your editorial independence. But independence doesn’t mean independence from criticism or observation… not for a fiction/screenwriter, and not for a journalist.

    Please let me know if indeed I’m not allowed to be part of the conversation anymore and I’ll be sure to pack up my kit, okay?

    There’s a whole lotta umbrage going on here, and at least from my side, I don’t see why that is. If you have a different set of facts or suppositions, please let me know.

    1. I’m umbrage-free. Just wanted to clarify for people who might not have the context of why you wrote that comment to this post that this was an interview we asked for, and to answer your question of whether this kind of information is a good or bad thing with my answer of good. I just didn’t use as many words as you did to make the argument.

    1. I think you’re reading a slam into it, as you seemed to read umbrage into brevity. I don’t have anything more to say other than our position is we think it’s good to publish news about series in development, of course. People who think there’s grey area or who think it’s not good should weigh in and give you the discussion you want. Go for it, people. [Gently closes door to party room so as to not offend Denis’s boogers.]

  4. Lol. The vocab you guys are using makes my eyes roll. I’m glad to hear about series in development. I realize many won’t come to fruition but it’s still nice to hear about the possibilities which exist.

    1. Ha, I think there are a lot of rolling eyes reading our exchange, including Denis’ and mine.

      I can’t imagine audiences saying no, please don’t tell me about the Lost Girl showrunner developing something about witches based on Nora Roberts books. I suspect the con side to news like that is going to have to be industry folks.

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