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Archive: Oct 26, 2007
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Frank, Chellas and crew reteam for Knife
by: Oct 26, 2007 Print

The team that brought The Eleventh Hour to Canadian screens is wrapping the Toronto shoot of its CTV MOW Who Named the Knife. A fictional adaptation of the 2007 book by Linda Spalding, the $4-million two-hour drama (set to also bow on Lifetime in the States) follows the budding relationship between a woman and a female convict who she believes is wrongfully imprisoned.

"The two lead characters are women, and it's a story you don't often read about women," says screenwriter and exec producer Semi Chellas. "It has the quality of journalism like in The Eleventh Hour, where the characters are digging into the facts and picking up the pieces to create a story."

Annabeth Gish (Brotherhood, The West Wing) plays Sally Linden, a murder trial juror who feels reasonable doubt about the charges, but is dismissed from jury duty before deliberations start. The woman, Theresa, played by Chandra West of NYPD Blue, is convicted. Flash forward 15 years, Sally tracks Theresa down and works through her initial feelings of doubt to uncover a possible misjudgment.

"This project has elements of some great dramas like Dead Man Walking... and this great BBC production Longford by Peter Morgan. They're all about relationships with someone in real life and someone in prison," Chellas says.

Executive producer Ilana Frank worked with Chellas (and Spalding's scriptwriter daughter, Esta) on The Eleventh Hour, and the duo pitched the script to CTV's then-creative head of dramatic programming Tecca Crosby and former SVP of programming Bill Mustos. Despite the departure of both execs from the network, Chellas says the relationship with CTV has not changed. Production exec Kathleen Meek is now the go-to person for the terrestrial, and she was on board with the project from day one, when she was the manager of BCE drama development.

The supporting cast includes Maury Chaykin (Entourage), Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica) and Headstones' lead singer Hugh Dillon (Durham County). Although Chellas wasn't involved with the casting, she admits to having pictured Dillon in the role of the villain. "He can play compelling, charming and frightening, so there's a joy in watching him on set," she says.

The crew behind the MOW includes exec producer Daniel Iron (Away from Her) for Toronto's Thump. Director David Wellington recently wrapped up work on Frank's latest mini, Would Be Kings, also due on CTV, and worked with Chellas on the Showtime/CBC MOW Restless Spirits.

The majority of Who Named the Knife was filmed in Toronto, but some of the cast and crew will be making the journey to Hawaii at the end of the year to wrap the project.

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