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05-07-2004, 04:01 PM
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Living Canada's dream

Hockey reality show aims to make cut with viewers

By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

Your first thought, if you're not among the masses addicted to the stuff, is to cringe.

Not sports, too. Not another segment of TV Land being dragged into the seemingly bottomless abyss that is the world of reality television.

Perish the thought.

But upon further inspection, the folks behind Making the Cut -- a hockey-based reality series set to debut in September on CBC and RDS -- might be on to something worthwhile with this 13-week docudrama.

Here's the premise: A blanket invitation has been issued to any player 19 years old and up who isn't signed to a pro contract and still has the NHL drive alive in his heart. Following a cross-country series of seven tryouts (including June 13-15 at the Corel Centre), 68 players will be selected to be part of Making the Cut.

They'll be put through the paces by former NHL coaches Mike Keenan and Scotty Bowman at a two-week July camp at a "secret location" in B.C. Eventually, six will earn invites to an NHL training camp (one will land with the Senators).

Viewers will follow the fortunes of the aspiring players over 13 weeks, beginning in mid-September and building up to a live grand finale on Dec. 8.

Scott Moore, who was hired to produce the series by Vancouver's Network Productions, admits they're riding the hot reality TV wave. But he believes there's more to the word "reality" in Making the Cut than you'll find in much of the other drek that now litters the airwaves.

"It's not nearly as contrived as the reality shows you're seeing now," said Moore, the former head of production at Rogers Sportsnet. "You're not going to see people getting voted off the island ... We're not going to be throwing bikini models into the dressing room to pick the (winners).

"They're getting picked on the basis of pure hockey talent."

But seriously, now. What are the odds anyone signing up for this Bell Canada-sponsored challenge will ever make the grade in the NHL?

Better than you think, said Keenan, who points out two captains on NHL teams he coached -- Dave Poulin (Philadelphia) and Dirk Graham (Chicago) -- were undrafted free agents. So, too, was this year's NHL scoring king, Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"There are people out there waiting to be discovered ... it's not out of the question," said Keenan, who expects 12,000 players to answer the cattle call for the series.

"There's a lot of great youngsters out there who need to get a second chance."

As Moore points out, though, this isn't just a hockey show. Expect Making the Cut to turn its dreamers into heroes of sorts before it's done.

"We want people to root for these guys," he said. "We want them to get to know the players as well as, if not better than, Daniel Alfredsson or Chris Phillips. We're going to introduce you to these guys and make them stars."

Moore has no doubt viewers will tune in.

"I'll boldly predict that this will be the highest-rated Canadian show on television next season," he said.

Added Keenan: "I'm certain Canadians will embrace this."

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