Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Filmmakers deny Smilin' Jack movie has left-wing bias

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CONSERVATIVE commentators have suggested a CBC TV movie about NDP leader Jack Layton may be an exercise in left-wing propaganda.

Stephen Taylor of the National Citizens Coalition has been quoted as saying: "The taxpayer-funded production of a dramatized interpretation of a political figure's life is clearly open to bias.''

But executive producers from Pier 21 and Eagle Vision, the companies producing Smilin' Jack: The Jack Layton Story respectfully disagree.

Kyle Irving of the Winnipeg production company Eagle Vision asserts the film will draw viewers (and advertisers) on the strength of a story that touched the hearts of Canadians of all political stripes.

"Jack had the respect of the nation. People liked him," Irving says. "And people are going to want to watch this movie. When the CBC licensed it, they knew it would bring them big numbers and that's part of their mandate to have large audiences.

"It's a commercial product. And I'm sure it's going to be a great success for them."

As far as conservative media is concerned, "They weren't interested when I was doing Don Cherry," says executive producer Laszlo Barna of Toronto production company Pier 21, referring to the two Don Cherry miniseries shot here.

"I've done movies about Don Cherry, Roméo Dallaire, Celine Dion and Shania Twain," Barna says. "They can portray this as an ideological movie, but it's just about one of the greatest Canadians in recent political history.

"They have an agenda. We don't."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 11, 2012 G1

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