Terminal City heads to Sundance Channel

From a media release:

Sundance Channel to Premiere Award-Winning Miniseries ‘Terminal City’ on March 6th

Sundance Channel will premiere “Terminal City,” an award-winning Canadian miniseries about a cancer-stricken housewife who becomes a reality TV star, in March 2008. Comprised of ten episodes, “Terminal City” was created and written by Angus Fraser (Kissed); the directors are Rachel Talalay (The Wind in the Willows), Kari Skogland (Chicks With Sticks), Lynne Stopkewich (Kissed), and Stephen Surjik (I Want Candy). The series stars Maria del Mar (Price of Glory, “24”), Gil Bellows (The Weather Man, “Ally McBeal”), Paul Soles (The Score), Katie Boland (Jumper and Adoration) and Jane McLean (Shoot ‘Em Up). “Terminal City” airs as a weekly one-hour program, premiering Thursday, March 6th at 9:00pm ET/PT.

“Terminal City” mixes drama and dark comedy as it tells a story of a family facing not one but two major upheavals: cancer and overnight fame. Maria del Mar stars as Katie Sampson, a loving wife and mother of three with a zest for life, a sardonic sense of humor and a flair for the grand gesture. When a mammogram confirms a lump in her breast, Katie heads to the hospital for a biopsy — and walks straight into a live broadcast of “Post Op!,” a flailing reality TV show. Katie’s star quality is immediately apparent to producer Jane Richards (Jane McLean), and within days, the telegenic housewife is hosting her own daytime program on the Acetylene Network. While Katie conquers the airwaves, her devoted husband Ari (Gil Bellows) tries to maintain some sense of day-to-day normalcy amongst the family, which includes two bickering teenagers, 16-year-old Sarah (Katie Boland) and 15-year old Nicky (Adam Butcher), as well as precocious 7-year-old Eli (Nico McEown) and Ari’s volatile father Saul (Paul Soles). In the weeks and months to come, Katie’s celebrity and illness will accelerate in tandem, and the members of the Sampson family find their own ways to cope with a terribly uncertain future.

“Terminal City” premiered on Canadian television in October 2005, receiving critical acclaim and numerous honors during the 2006 Canadian awards season. In an article for Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Gayle MacDonald wrote, “Landing in the same groundbreaking genre that includes HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’ and ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Terminal City’ embraces taboo topics in a respectful, honest manner, and ends up leaving viewers eminently entertained.” Series star Maria del Mar was recently honored as the best actress of 2006 by ACTRA, the Canadian equivalent of SAG. “Terminal City” won eight awards in the Dramatic Series section of British Columbia’s Leo Awards, including Best Series, Direction (Rachel Talalay) and Screenwriting (Fraser). Also receiving honors were co-star Paul Soles, who received a Gemini Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series, and director Kari Skogland, who won the Director’s Guild of Canada Craft Award for Outstanding Direction of a Television Series.

The schedule for “Terminal City” is as follows:

Thursday, March 6th at 9:00pm

Episode 1 — Directed by Rachel Talalay. At the family dinner table and on the golf course, a ringing telephone is stalking Katie Sampson (Maria del Mar), who is doing her best to ignore it. She doesn’t want to hear the bad new she knows is coming: her recent mammogram has confirmed a lump in her breast. But that bad news does finally come and Katie and her family — architect husband Ari (Gil Bellows), 16-year-old daughter Sarah (Katie Boland), 15-year-old son Nicky (Adam Butcher), and 7-year-old son Eli (Nico McEown), and father-in-law Saul (Paul Soles) — will have to deal with it. Marshalling her sense of humor, Katie heads to the hospital for further tests — and walks smack into that day’s edition of “Post Op!,” a medical reality program that broadcasts live from the hospital. Already in a dark mood, Katie launches into a mordantly funny riff on life, death and breast cancer. Her charisma is not lost on producer Jane Richards (Jane McLean), but the telegenic patient is gone before Jane can find out where to contact her.

Thursday, March 13th at 9:00pm

Episode 2 — Directed by Rachael Talalay. Katie’s appearance on “Post-Op!” galvanizes the series’ small audience and makes newspaper headlines. With the approval of the cynical network chief, Brendan Baum (Andrew McIlroy), Jane Richards decides to replace the show’s current host with Katie; of course, Jane doesn’t know where to find her. While Jane launches her manhunt for Katie, the object of her search is busy getting drunk on champagne and once again avoiding her doctor’s phone call. Ari sends the kids to spend the night with his father Saul, a Holocaust survivor known for subjecting his grandchildren to repeated viewings of “Exodus.” Alone at last with her husband, Katie insists on a light-hearted, romantic evening.

Thursday, March 20th at 9:00pm

Episode 3 — Directed by Lynne Stopkewich. Katie takes over the ailing “Post-Op!” and her first guest on the show is none other than her GP, bearing news about the tumor in her breast. But there’s no stopping Katie now; she’s going to grapple with cancer on her own terms, and on national television. Broadcasting from the hospital, she christens her revamped program “No Show,” and even casts a sidekick, a perpetually grinning oddball named Jimmy Crib (Jonathan Young). Eli has developed an obsession with God and is exploring Christianity, to the general consternation of his family. With blazing hormones but shaky confidence, Nicky makes an unsuccessful play for his high school dream date, but fares better with the beautiful, 40-something blond who rides his bus every day.

Thursday, March 27th at 9:00pm

Episode 4 — Directed by Lynne Stopkewich. Four weeks into her reality TV career, Katie is a bona fide celebrity whose life is fodder for the evening news. But the cancer that brought her to prominence has by no means vanished, and Katie’s oncologist finally orders a partial mastectomy. However, no tumor will get the best of Katie Sampson: she’ll have the procedure, and her viewers can watch it happen on live television. Embarrassed by her tell-all mother, Sarah immerses herself in the romantic syllabus of her literature class — and tries to make a connection with the handsome young teacher, Yash (Nakul Kapur). Nicky’s flirtation with the bus-riding blonde Lenora Bukowski (Stellina Rusich) reaches a new level; even Saul is thinking about sex, at least in retrospect.

Thursday, April 3rd at 9:00pm

Episode 5 — Directed by Kari Skogland. The paparazzi go wild as Katie and Ari arrive at the hospital for her scheduled double mastectomy. Eli takes himself shopping at a Jewish-owned department store, and wins his grandfather Saul’s approval with his sober black suit and hat. With all the hoopla surrounding her mother’s operation, Sarah indulges in some drama of her own and attempts to seduce her literature teacher. At 12 o’clock, “No Show with Katie Sampson” hits the air and a scalpel runs across Katie’s breast, marking the beginning of her televised mastectomy. A riveted nation watches, but a worried husband can’t. Ari counts the seconds alone in a waiting room, and eventually is joined by his own father, two sons and only daughter.

Thursday, April 10th at 9:00pm

Episode 6 — Directed by Kari Skogland. Four weeks after her operation, Katie returns to “No Show,” ready to reclaim her television throne and undergo four cycles of chemotherapy. She wastes no time establishing her priorities, nixing a high-profile guest and leading the camera crew on a visit to the cancer ward. Network boss Brendan proposes a permanent studio in the hospital, producer Jane Richards is more concerned about safeguarding the health of her host, whom she has come to regard as a friend. Saul blasts Ari for lacking pride and Jewish identity, the first episode in an escalating series of outbursts and delusions. Everyone in the Sampson family is feeling the pressure — and for some, a breaking point is near.

Thursday, April 17th at 9:00pm

Episode 7 — Directed by Rachel Talalay. Life thunders along for the Sampson family: Nicky is deep in his affair with his married lover, Lenora; Eli has become a dark prophet of life and death and his mother’s chances of survival; and Sarah is moving ever closer to realizing the Rapture of Literature and bedding her teacher. Ari holds everything together but cannot control what comes out of the woodwork: a barfly named Ellie (Paula Shaw), who marches all the way across town with a 35 year-old secret. And Katie? Having held death at bay, she has achieved what all talk show hosts crave: an Oprah-like aura with ratings to match. As the family gathers for Passover dinner, Saul arrives to make a startling confession.

Thursday, April 24th at 9:00pm

Episode 8 — Directed by Rachel Talalay. Katie’s cancer has returned with a vengeance, and Ellie makes an ill-advised attempt to take up the domestic slack. Saul begins to do penance for his violent deeds, while Nicky has cause to reconsider his affair with Lenora. Sarah pulls herself together, while Ari hangs on for dear life. Katie decides the time has come to leave the hospital studio and step down as the host of “No Show.” Her final episode is a doozy, with a visit to an unsuspecting former boyfriend — and an unscheduled return visit to the hospital.

Thursday, May 1st at 9:00pm

Episode 9 — Directed by Stephen Surjik. Katie is hospitalized amidst a media frenzy that includes breathless speculation about her husband and children. Ari rises to the occasion, swooping down on the hospital to swat away photographers and tend to his frightened, ailing wife. In her darkest hour, Katie exhorts Ari to move on with his life and find someone new after she is gone. Ari tries to imagine a date with his young assistant, but it’s Katie he wants to take home.

Thursday, May 8th at 9:00pm

Episode 10 — Directed by Stephen Surjik. Unconscious and oblivious to the doctors fighting to save her, Katie drifts between life and death. What if she’d never answered that first telephone call? Would everything have been different? And what does the future look like?

Under the creative direction of Robert Redford, Sundance Channel is the television destination for independent-minded viewers seeking something different. Bold, uncompromising and irreverent, Sundance Channel offers audiences a diverse and engaging selection of films, documentaries, and original programs, all unedited and commercial free. Launched in 1996, Sundance Channel is a venture of NBC Universal, CBS and Robert Redford. Sundance Channel operates independently of the non-profit Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival, but shares the overall Sundance mission of encouraging artistic freedom of expression. Sundance Channel’s website address is www.sundancechannel.com.