Can Québécois producer Jocelyn Deschênes translate a TV show across Canada's language divide?

Québécois producer Jocelyn Deschênes, along with fellow executive producer Moses Znaimer, is bringing a version of his hugely successful Quebec show, Rumeurs, to English Canada's CBC Television, this fall. The former cinema professor talked to Canadian Business about the television industries on both sides of the language divide.

Why did you decide to expand outside of Quebec?

A company like mine, which grew up in a very small market such as Quebec's, has very big limits . I didn't want to lose focus on my core business, but I realized we had to go somewhere else. By coincidence, I met Moses [Znaimer] in Montreal and he offered me a show to produce with him. I said, “Well, I'm not sure about this one, but look at this one” ? Rumeurs. He called me the day after to make a pilot.

Why do you think Rumours will work in English Canada?

Rumours is universal: it's about love, it's about friendship and it's about a gossip magazine. The style is contemporary and fast-paced. Actually we had to tone down the rhythm of the show for English Canada. In Quebec, people watch so much new material that we can sometimes risk things in the editing and the style. English Canada is more exposed to American culture, so we have to look at what is done in America.

What else is different between the two industries?

What I understand now from English Canada is that it's hard to get into the process of always working on shows, which develops talent and a star system. The actors we hired for Rumours are fantastic, it's a waste not using them more. What you have to get in English Canada is an audience. And you have to produce; you have to make the artistic talent happy. How do you make them happy? In keeping them working; that's how they will give you extraordinary things.