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As we all know Epitome Pictures is the production company that produces Degrassi.  Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn founded the company in 1995, but Linda has been head honcho of any companies producing the Degrassi franchise for well over 30 years (she founded the company that produced all of the Degrassi franchises in the 80’s, Playing With Time, Inc).

Yesterday it was announced that Epitome was bought by a company called DHX Media for approximately $33 million (for more info, read the full press release here).  DHX is a large Canadian company that produces and distributes children’s entertainment.  The move not only means they’ve acquired Degrassi, but all Epitome properties such as the L.A. Complex, Instant Star, etc.

Though Epitome is under new ownership, leadership will remain the same:  Stephen Stohn will remain President of Epitome, and both he and Linda will remain as the Degrassi”s Executive Producers.  In an article written by The Global Mail:

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The Epitome principals say the sale is not their exit strategy. The deal calls for them to stay on for at least a year, with an open-ended option to remain with DHX. They say it will enable them to focus on creating shows rather than worry about corporate matters.

“I started in this business way back, when nobody knew what independent production was,” said Ms. Schuyler, Epitome’s CEO. “It was very fledgling. We’ve grown our business to be quite large now, and I think the way of the future is going to have to be to find these synergies.”

Ms. Schuyler, 65, added: “I could see myself slowing down a bit in four or five years.”
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The article also suggests that the acquisition is part of DHX’s plan to expand into the teen market.  What does this mean for fans of the show? Your guess is as good as mine.  However, some news we can digest came out of all of this…in DHX’s press release, they revealed Degrassi’s episode count for season 14:

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Epitome is presently focused on the fourteenth season of Degrassi: The Next Generation, now in pre-production on 28 episodes for MTV in Canada and TeenNick in the United States.
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There’s no word on whether or not these are 30-minute episodes or hour-long ones, or when season 14 will premiere.  It could premiere this summer, or it could very well be possible that 13D doesn’t air until mid summer, and season 14 doesn’t begin until this fall.

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Posted by Kary

18 Comments

  1. Didn’t they just recently drop the “Next Generation” from the title? Maybe I’m wrong. Interesting turn of events which I’m sure has to do with taking the money while they can. Of course that means that DeGrassi, as we know it, has 1 more year. Nobody spends 33 million on something that they don’t have plans for, and I doubt the plan is to stay the same.

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  2. I think season 14 will be the last season unless they can get some big hype going for it again. This whole season 13 has just been..off? I think it is weird that after being bought for 33 million they decrease the episode count but it would make sense if they made it a shorter season to end the arks of all the characters if it is the last season.

    But this also brings up question if they are referring to just the summer episodes? because in the past the networks have called each blocks different “seasons” but i have a feeling that coming from the actual company’s mouths that they mean the full season 14.

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    1. Here’s a few things to think about. Any production company has a value. All the shows that they produce continue to produce revenue every time they are shown or else if they go into syndication. I’m pretty certain that DHX Media believes they can recoup their investment based on future earnings of the basic property. Epitome principles are ready to retire and want their money now, not over the next 15 years. What DHX decides to do with DeGrassi after S14 is the question. I would bet about anything that they will carry on with the show, but I bet it gets a major facelift.

      28 episodes is still quite a few. DeGrassi, despite its large cast is cheap to make. If DHX Media were going to phase the show out, I doubt they would even have a series 14 even if they were about to enter into a large and profitable syndication deal. They have ideas and this deal has probably been in the works prior to the decision to have 40 episodes in 13. No, this is going to be very interesting, if anything, I bet this adds some life to the show.

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    2. The vibe that I keep getting from people like Stefan, etc. is that Degrassi is going to keep going for a while…that was of course before this deal happened, but who knows how long the two sides have been negotiating. Just because season 13 feels off it doesn’t mean that the show is ending soon (ratings in season 8 and 9 in Canada were so horrible the show should’ve been canceled, but it survived…I’m thinking Linda and Stephen have quite a bit of power and influence to make sure the show sticks around). Like klb said, DHX isn’t going to spend $33 million just to scrap Degrassi after a year, though there definitely could be big changes down the road.

      Dropping the episode count isn’t surprising because 40 weekly episodes within a year’s time seems excessive without the telenovela format. It could just be a future scheduling thing, because it’d be quite difficult for them to cram in 40 episodes in season 14 with the current season looking like it might spill over well into this summer. 13C ends near the end of this month. Let’s say we have a short hiatus of a month, 13D would start in June and last about two months (unless they double up on episodes or something). That would leave 13D finishing up near the end of July. They’d of course take another hiatus, and then 14A would start in October because Degrassi’s fall block always begins in October to ensure episodes run up until the holidays.

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      1. Yeah that makes sense if they do it that way. So even if linda and stephen leave after a year you think they will still continue the show?

        If anything I feel like they should have tried to rebrand the show after this current class graduates.i dont know if its just the lighting or all the bright and pastel colors all the cast wears or what but seasons 11 and 12 just seemed really dark and you have all these characters placed in (well at least my mind) dark area and coming into season 13 it was something I noticed but thought id get use to but I still haven’t and just between that and the new intro and etc. It just seemed like ehh maybe should have waited until we got a new class then rebrand like season 10 when the last of the main cast left.

        In general I hope it doesn’t end after season 14. If anyone (or show) can turn it around it would be degrassi! It just makes me worried between this and seeing people like alex leave the show so hastily and how slow season 13 has been. But you definatly have a very good point and you usually are right about this stuff

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      2. Yeah, your right. There are a 100 ways this whole thing could go, but like you mentioned, one thing you can count on is that Degrassi will go on. Throughout it’s 30+ year history one of the constants has been that DeGrassi starts with relatively new talent. I’m sure you would know for sure, but I can’t think of any actors that had a huge career prior to landing the DeGrassi job. Overall, they’ve become pretty good at identifying a talented, yet diverse cast. I wonder if that will continue? They have, at times, worked themselves into casts that don’t really stand-out. I’ve read last spring in THR where this is an area that they want to be more flexible with in the future. Be interesting to see if the 3 year contracts stay or go with the next regime….

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    3. I don’t think the count of 28 episodes is any kind of clear cut hint they are wrapping up the show, Hell, most shows don’t air that many in one season. Yes, that is noticeably less than the last few seasons, but that is because they did the Telenova format, which clearly is no longer being done. With that format out it’s not surprising the season length is shortening. prior to the Telenova format they never did even 28 episodes. So while I am sure the show wasn’t happy that format seems to be on the out, 28 is hardly a “partial season” be almost any other prime-time show in all of north America’s standard. Hell mainstream American network shows with top ratings don’t do 28 episodes a season.

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  3. “The current series has just entered fully funded production on its 14th season, which will bring the total number of episodes in the franchise to 497.” If I counted right, Degrassi will end its 13th season with a total of 453 episodes in the franchise. Doesn’t it mean that 14th season will have 44 episodes?

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  4. Oh, sorry, they bought 469 episodes, so 469 + 28 = 497.

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  5. Good comments all around. Michael brought up a couple good points. I disagree that the new lighting and bright colors are a distraction and a come down. I like them. I don’t like the new openings where we barely see the cast members for 1 second. It was always fun to have the old intro and see the actor/actress name and what character they were playing. If its not broke why fix it? Take Fiona in the openings for instance. The first year showed her with her brother. The next time she was working on a play with Eli. The last one she was shooting baskets with Drew. These were fun clues as to what storyline and cast interactions she would be in for that season. ……I think short term Degrassi is on solid footing. I think 4-5 years down the road trouble will set in. Especially when Linda and Stephen decide to call it quits.

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    1. I agree in the sense that i like the lighting and bright colors, especially since it compliments some of the real life actors really well (christy i am looking at you, holy mama) but I think it would have been something that would have been implemented better in season 14 for me personally. What i liked about season 12 that made it my favorite season ever is the way i thought they did so many things well, which included the lighting and wardrobe.Between those, and the story arks and the acting it just all came full circle for me and i just found it to be outstanding.

      I guess its hard for me to separate the way i see see them since i enjoyed the way they were in season 12 and having them change something which i viewed as perfect for someone just leaves a funny taste for me, which is why i think if they imply with a mostly new cast it would work better because it will seem more natural coming from someone with no background as opposed to a complete change of wardrobe. But in all, I do agree with you that it is a good look! Maybe it was their way of implying that the drama this season will be “lighter” than last season

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  6. Ideally 13D airs in the summer and ends at Spring Break Degrassi time…. season 14 is split up into TWO 14 episode blocks…. 14a would end w/ Clare and Co’s graduation and 14b would be another Summer centered arc or it would be Maya and Co’s Junior year and an influx of newbies….. I think IF it went beyond a 14th season they would do a massive re-tool in format to keep it fresh

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  7. if you have noticed through out the years they switch up the feel of the lighting every season. am i the only one that noticed? i think they do that just to keep it fresh every year. season 11 was very dark lighting. 10 was like medium dark. 12 was much brighter. and 13 is the brightest and most colorful. but it makes sense cuz of the summer season. it should be brighter.

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  8. I think we all need to keep in mind that Degrassi likes to surprise us. And at the last possible minute…Remember how they changed Degrassi from airing on Thursdays to Tuesdays? If I remember right, viewers were informed of that two days before 13c aired. I really think this is subject to change. Do I think Degrassi is ending at season 14? I don’t know. But why would they add Zoe, Miles, and Winston just to kick them all off a season later. The thing that worries me is that Degrassi seems to be held up by Linda and Steven. My concern is if Degrassi is willing to hold themselves up for a while if Linda and Steven do leave. I know Degrassi is strong enough to do it, but I’m not convinced they are willing to. Degrassi seems to revolve around these two people, in my opinion. I just really don’t think this 28 episode count is set in stone. A lot of times, shows don’t even have a clear idea of what’s happening in he future. We’re in season 13, and they’re still undergoing creative changes. Any thoughts Kary? Or anyone else:)

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    1. The move from Thursday’s to Tuesday was completely ratings driven. DeGrassi has a pretty specific target audience and they weren’t drawing the numbers on Thursday because of the competition.

      As for the new characters, everybody on DeGrassi signs the same 3 year contract. But, shows get canceled all the time. Show gets the ax, contract goes out the window, it’s just the nature of the business.

      Your right about Steven and Linda, they have been the driving force behind DeGrassi forever. But, as the article stated, Linda is 65 and plans on slowing down. I imagine that Steven is in his mid-50’s and probably is at a sort of crossroads in his career. To put a deal like this together, somebody has to want to sell and somebody else wants to buy. The buyers want Linda and Steven there for a transition year. It will give them time to get their own team together and decide how they want to move forward. Unless it completely falls apart in 14, you can bet that there will be a 15, 16, and so on. They didn’t buy it to cancel it, I can promise you that.

      Lastly, the episode count is probably pretty firm. They have a budget, they know what it costs to make an episode, They do the math and hope that the networks can handle what they produce. 28’s a good number. I still would like to see the 4 nites a week in the summer, but I think that ship has sailed….

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    2. I have no reason to believe the show will end with season 14, just like I don’t think Epitome will opt out of the deal this time next year unless something completely insane happens. Keep in mind there’s a difference between Epitome’s plans and the networks’ plans. I don’t think that Epitome would ever just quit. As a matter of fact execs have said they’re gonna keep going and have no plans on stopping when it comes to Degrassi. The only way they’d stop is if they were forced to…aka the networks decided to part ways with the show, and Epitome couldn’t find anyone else to pick it up.

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  9. I’m gonna be at summercamp an overnight one until July 11th they have a TV but I doubt anyone’s gonna let me watch Degrassi :( :( I wish that I had a TV in my room during summercamp plus they may be watching PLL it’s on Tuesdays 2. Ahhh! SOS

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  10. Also degrassi should go on till the world ends

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