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The Globe and Mail



Degrassi: The Next Generation is getting set to bust out of the TV, with a feature film and a series of graphic novels planned.


Epitome Pictures in Toronto, which produces the show, is hoping to start filming the movie this spring. But the final details, including whether Kevin Smith (Clerks) will direct the project, are still being ironed out.


"Is Kevin interested in directing? Yes," says Stephanie Cohen, director of marketing at Epitome. Smith has already appeared as a guest star on the show several times and is a Degrassi fan. Word in the industry is that Nickelodeon Films, part of the Viacom conglomerate, which also includes Paramount Pictures, is interested in the project.



A final script isn't ready, but we know that the movie movie will be shot in and around Toronto. The idea is to advance the plotline of the TV show, picking up from where it ends off this season, its fifth.


"There would be new characters. But it would be based on our Degrassi cast," Cohen adds.


Epitome is planning a sixth season about the characters at Degrassi Community School, although the company is still waiting for the series to be officially renewed. The aim is to blend the plotlines of the film with those of season six.

"The writers on the feature film are very aware, working in tandem with the producers of the show, that there is no conflict [in the storylines]," Cohen says.

"If they take a character in a certain direction, it would be picked up in the following season -- even though the release of the feature wouldn't come until after the beginning of the next season. It's complicated."



Meanwhile, the first two in a series of at least four Degrassi graphic novels from Toronto's Madison Press Books are planned to be released this spring. Written and drawn like Japanese manga-style comic books, they will contain around 100 pages each. Simon & Schuster is releasing the titles in the United States. The comics would spin off from the series and go into even further detail about the characters' lives.


"So, it's what we can't do on the show, they can do in these books," says Cohen.

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