CTV Airs The Degrassi Story September 17, 2005 in Honour of Franchise's Silver Anniversary

Degrassi: The Next Generation - Behind The Scenes (2005)

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CTV Airs The Degrassi Story September 17 in Honour of Franchise's Silver Anniversary

Toronto, Ontario (September 7, 2005)

After 25 years, four incarnations and a whole new generation of viewers on both sides of the border, the Degrassi franchise is stronger than ever. CTV announced today it will honour the storied franchise's 25th anniversary with a special retrospective documentary The Degrassi Story, airing Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. ET (check local listings).

The broadcast provides a natural springboard to CTV's Season 5 premiere of Degrassi: The Next Generation on Sept. 19.

From The Kids of Degrassi Street to The Next Generation, The Degrassi Story is a one-hour look at the 25-year history of the Degrassi franchise. Hosted by Stefan Brogren (a.k.a. Archie "Snake" Simpson), the behind-the-scenes styled doc answers the long-standing question: Why do people love this franchise? Who better to lead the journey answering that question than Brogren, who also serves as Co-writer of the documentary, and has lived with alter ego "Snake" for more than 19 years.

Brogren embarks on a mission - reconnecting with friends he hasn't seen in some time, as well as those he still sees on a regular basis. Together, they reminisce about life as child actors. Guests include former cast members Amanda Stepto ("Spike"); Pat Mastroianni ("Joey Jeremiah"); Dayo Ade ("BLT"); Angela and Maureen Deiseach ("The Twins"); Siluck Saysanasy ("Yick Yu"), Stacie Mistysyn ("Caitlyn Ryan"); and Neil Hope ("Wheels"). Degrassi: The Next Generation cast-mates Adamo Ruggiero ("Marco"), Miriam McDonald ("Emma"), and Jake Epstein ("Craig") discuss their current experiences with the series, and their thoughts on what makes this show so successful.

Through interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, The Degrassi Story reveals how the franchise has thrived for a quarter century. The secret ingredient remains its ability to speak directly to its audience, tackling the toughest of issues in a realistic way.

The Degrassi Story is executive produced by Gordon Henderson for 90th Parallel Productions Ltd. Mike Sheerin is Producer, Director and Co-writes with Stefan Brogren, who is also the host. Bob Culbert is CTV's Vice-President of Documentaries. Susanne Boyce is President, CTV Programming and Chair of the CTV Media Group.

90th Parallel Film and Television Productions Ltd. is a Toronto-based production company founded and owned by Gordon Henderson. The company produces high-end documentaries, including the Gemini Award-winning Ronnie Hawkins: Tall Tales from the Long Corner, as well as six other Gemini Award-nominated programs. Gordon Henderson was also senior producer on Canada: A People's History. Current projects include The Degrassi Story, Run Your Own Race with Dr. Marla Shapiro, Museum, a three-part special about the ongoing renovation process at the Royal Ontario Museum, and The Light at the Edge of the World, a four-part series about disappearing cultures, with explorer and ethno-botanist Wade Davis.

The Degrassi Story is the next in a series of original documentaries to air as part of CTV's 2005-2006 slate. Other titles include Running on a Dream: The Legacy of Terry Fox (airs Sept. 10); BEYOND CORNER GAS: Tales From Dog River (airs Sept. 24); Brawl; Checklist: A Measure of Evil; Double Trouble; Girls Don't Fight; Heads Up; In Pursuit of Happiness, It Slices, It Dices: K-Tel; Lost in Canada; Tabitha's Trip; The Corrections Project; and Secret World of Bridge.

Mystifying Degrassi Longevity Continues

Edmonton Sun, Sept. 17, 2005


Got to admit, I was never a fan of the whole Degrassi deal.

I was a few years older than Snake, Joey, Caitlyn and Wheels so, like a senior who sneered at sophomores, I never hung with these kids.

But if you did, CTV has a treat for you tonight: The Degrassi Story (7 p.m.), an hour-long look at the enduring teen TV franchise.

Starting in 1979, Degrassi went through several stages and titles, including The Kids of Degrassi Street and Degrassi Junior High before taking a decade-long rest. The hallmark of the original series was the authenticity of the casting. For the first time, actual pimply-faced teens were playing pimply-faced teens on television.

One of them, Stefan Brogren (a.k.a. Archie "Snake" Simpson), who now appears on Degrassi: The Next Generation, is the host of tonight's W-Five nostalgia tour.

Back in the day, these kids were exactly the kind of kids you would find in any classroom in Canada. The extended cast was a diverse bunch representing a real rainbow collection of cultures. Degrassi deserves every kudo for cracking that colour barrier.

The problem for me was the shoddy production values. As my late, great photographer pal Gene Trindl used to say, it looked like it was shot through a silk stocking with a leg still in it.

For fans (especially No. 1 fan, Jay & Silent Bob director Kevin Smith, who hijacked the series with an extended guest spot last season), the results of the show's seat-of-the-pants approach is all part of Degrassi's very Canadian charm.

Degrassi is also lauded for tackling tough issue stories: the first teen pregnancy, the abortion episode, interracial dating, AIDs, homophobia, the first use of the f-word on Canadian TV screens, etc.

After decades of phoney teen shows such as Dawson's Creek, Americans can't seem to get enough of it. The Television Critics Association bestowed its Best Children's Series Award upon it this past summer in L.A.

Instead of being relatable, Degrassi seems to my family more like Crisis High. Especially the current series. The ubiquitous promos for Degrassi: The Next Generation are like watching those lurid, late night Girls Gone Wild ads, only with less boob flashing. Don't these kids ever just struggle with math or geography?

Clearly, my family is not the only one immune to the fuss. Degrassi is the lowest-rated prime-time series on the regular-season CTV schedule. It generally loses more than half the audience of its Canadian-made lead-in, Corner Gas. Whatever U.S. series follows it spikes to two or three times its numbers.

Degrassi: The Next Generation returns for a fifth season on Monday.

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