On May 1, 2012, to the broken hearts (and some angry fists) of fans, it was announced that Flashpoint’s upcoming 5th season would be the last tour of duty for the SRU. Here, I will expose many well-kept secrets…
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…which wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day because, really, I’m making up most of it. Although some of the scoop comes from a reliable source: my informant, a mouse who has evaded 5 years of extermination attempts at the Flashpoint studios. He is a very clever mouse. To protect his identity, I shall call him Reginald.
On Flashpoint Team One, the show’s official Facebook fan page, the producers broke the news. Like many breaking news stories of the day, it came via social media first. This time, however, it wasn’t the slip-up or angry Tweet of a cast member, it was a strategic response to the decision made by the show.
That part is unequivocally true. The show as not cancelled (which is the term for what happens when a broadcaster pulls the plug and ends the show before its time). The producers came to a decision regarding how they wanted to end the story. And this meant they wanted to end it on their own terms and not run the tale into the ground.
However, with my army of pixie spies and short men in long trench coats, I have unburied deeper ‘facts’ about the situation which may shock you. In fact, I’m rather hoping they will or all this sugar I ingested will be for naught.
Part of the decision came from a brewing feud between stars Enrico Colantoni and David Paetkau. It began with what was supposed to be a funny bit on the entertainment magazine show eTalk about a previously friendly rivalry between hockey team fans. Colantoni was a dyed-in-the-wool Toronto Maple Leafs fan and Paetkau, a Vancouver native, was a staunch Canucks fan. However, since the Canucks were doing better than the Leafs that year, the joke was to ‘force’ Colantoni to wear that team’s gear. While the joke played on-screen, Enrico Colantoni called his agent and tried to have David Paetkau fired. In a recording of that conversation obtained by this reporter (which I can’t share because, um, it’s … I left it in my other briefcase) Colantoni said, “If that [British Columbia] butthead so much as brushes me with a Canuck’s jersey again, I’m walking off the set and starting a riot in Vancouver. Oh, wait,” he remarked sarcastically, “that’s already been done!”
As this on-set feud grew, it reverberated throughout production and even affected the professionalism of parent network CTV. In this article, a CTV public relations reporter went so far as to intentionally spell Canucks as ‘Cancucks’ which is just a single letter away from a more profane mistreatment of the team’s name. The author, Tyrone Warner, could not be reached for comment but note the picture used: a proud, smiling Enrico Colantoni.
Over the next few months, lines were drawn and the fracture became a fault line which became a rift which became a fissure which became a chasm which became something worse than a chasm. Basically, it was bad. As one anonymous crew member put it, “People were mad. Like, Don Cherry mad. And we were all like Ron MacLean but without his salary.” (Neither Don Cherry nor Ron MacLean could be reached for comment.)
Writers/Producers/Creators/Craft Services Managers Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern tried to mitigate the damage caused by the great divide but to little avail. They went so far as to secretly hold a meeting with all the cast except for Paetkau and Colantoni. In it, they plead with them to find some peaceful resolution to the issue. One brave man stood up and said he would take it upon himself to smooth things over.
And so began the end for Michael Cram and his character, Kevin “Wordy” Wordsworth.
Cram’s efforts started harmlessly at first, with quiet chats between takes. He tried to assuage the ire of his two colleagues but, when that proved fruitless, he escalated his efforts. Not liking to be fruitless, he ordered fruit baskets for the two rivals, and signed each in the name of the other. Unfortunately, he did not know that David Paetkau’s high school sweetheart had broken up with him by sending him (sardonically, of course) a fruit basket with a card which read: “It’s over, Freckles. And I’m taking the dog.” It was a scar which had never fully healed as she had, after all, been his first love. Plus, she also took all of his Rush CDs. Incensed by the perceived slight, Paetkau marched over to Colantoni’s trailer, stormed in, and kicked him in the shin. Colantoni responded by throwing strawberries at Paetkau’s face and set security had to break them up.
Michael Cram, seeing his grand plan in shambles, rushed to tell them the truth. Before he could, though, Ellis and Morgenstern, fearful that this would track back to them, fired Michael Cram from the show and branded him a meddling fool. They let him take the blame for it. Quietly, they told Cram he had to do it for the good of the show and he, being a nice fellow, agreed. Ellis and Morgenstern, the show’s creators, producers, head writers, and photocopy managers, made up for the situation by writing a juicy exit for Constable Wordsworth. They also sent him a fruit basket.
The Paetkau-Colantoni feud subsided for a time but, near the end of filming season four, it became apparent the Leafs weren’t going to make the playoffs and the Canucks had secured a post-season berth. One half-muttered remark by Paetkau was enough. Colantoni rushed him with a boom mic. Hugh Dillon, who had previously been quietly making a fortune in a Paetkau-Colantoni pool, stepped between them and ended the fracas. Amy Jo Johnson threw her hands up in disgust and screamed, “I thought you Canadians were supposed to be peaceful!?” She then spent the rest of the day in her trailer with her guitar. Thus, that whole day of filming was lost. Sergio Di Zio, despite being present, does not clearly recall the event. He does note that he was near the end of a really good book and might have missed the whole affair.
Nonetheless, once word reached the production offices, Ellis and Morgenstern sat down with executive producers Anne-Marie La Traverse and Bill Mustos. This was the first conversation of many which, all-in-all, prompted their decision to end the show “while they were on top.” What this really meant was they needed to stop the show before the feud turned outwardly violent. Even as this decision was coming to a head, Colantoni’s car was keyscratched with a Canuck’s logo and Paetkau came to work one day to find his trailer painted Maple Leafs blue.
The show’s creators, producers, head writers, and lead props polishers, Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern issued a joint note to the cast and crew the day of the announcement. Filled with tender words and mentions of pride for what they accomplished in the show’s impressive 5-year run, it ended with this: “We cannot, in good conscience, continue to expose you all to this on-set tension between two rabid hockey fans. What’s more, though we recognize the right of anyone to follow any team of their choosing, this situation is exacerbated by the fact that we are both Montreal Canadiens fans and we just can’t understand this slavish devotion to two teams with such paltry championship records.”
It is wise for the show to express so-called pride for their run, impressing international markets, creating a legion of dedicated fans, fostering a sense of humaneness in a job which is pockmarked by inhumanity, and being unabashedly Canadian in its storytelling. And certainly, like Fringe, Eureka, and 24, it is better for an episodic show to conclude on its own terms instead of being prematurely cancelled like Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, or (our homegrown case of) The Border. And, yes, we still have an entire season to enjoy as the denouement of the onscreen story. But we must also value the truth behind these lies which have been spun by the show’s PR department — in all its ugliness we must acknowledge that the show’s demise stemmed from the centre ice feud between two bitter cast members and worsened by the misguided peace attempts of a fruit basket wielder. Most of this turmoil was kept private because it is assumed most people outside of Canada just wouldn’t understand such rivalry in a sport which isn’t football of one sort or the other. I, however, am committed to the truth and, as a fan of the show, felt you should all know.
Now, I have to go pick up my girlfriend, Cate Blanchett.
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[Edited May 10, 2012] To be absolutely crystal clear: This is a fake news story which embellishes — a lot — the events surrounding the truth of Season 5 being the final season of Flashpoint, and our last, best hope for peace. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must also admit Cate Blanchett is, in point of fact, not my girlfriend. It seems I had to clarify that for some.
Angelo Barovier has been an investigative reporter for several decades during which he uncovered the stories of Bernie Madoff, the doping scandal of MLB, the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, the Watergate scandal, the Julius Caesar conspiracy, and the location of Carmen Sandiego.