Forwarded by Susan Bunting

Originally posted by Jadie Tang. (Edmonton Journal - 03/21/95)
(reposted without permission):


Paul Haggis is dancing as fast as he can.

The Canadian-born creator, writer and executive producer of "Due South" is
no stranger to the rigors and panics of episodic television.

The two-time Emmy winner has written more than 50 episodes over the
years, ranging from "One Day at a Time" to "thirtysomething" and "L.A. Law."
But he confesses he's still occasionally caught napping by the whimsical
nature of primetime.

"What most surprised me, and it shouldn't have because I've been down the
road a long time, is the amount of pressure that can be brought to bear
when you are a success," Haggis said on a stop-over in Edmonton last week.

And "Due South" certainly was successful earlier this season.  Six
episodes into  the fall season, the comic action series was not merely
the first Canadian-made series on American prime time.  It was also CBS's
top-rated new show.

Haggis hope to trade off that hit ranking for a little more production
time.  As it is now, episodes are turned around in the span of eight
days.  But the network brass replied by suggesting he churn them out even
faster.  "You think people are just going to walk up and hand you myrrh
and things like this, and I got very little myrrh," Haggis told a session
of the Local Heroes International Screen Festival.

"Our ratings started to slip in the last few weeks and so you get the
flip side of pressures.  They said `Do something or we're not going to
pick you up.'  To their credit they didn't tell me what to do, but they
said I better do something.

"So I'm doing something right now.  I'm not exactly sure what it is but
I'm sure it's going to be good."

No surprise that Haggis has a rapid-fire sense of humor.  In delivery and
appearance he's strangely similar to "Due South's" Ray Vecchio, the
scrappy, wisecracking Chicago cop who's partnered with do-right Mountie
Benton Fraser.

Seventeen years after he started out in theatre in London, Ont., Haggis
still finds the entertainment biz a wild roller-coaster ride.  "I
fluctuate at any moment between hubris and self-immolation.  You do.  You
say, `I'm the best writer in the free world; oh my God, I'm terrible,
look what I've just written.'"

"Due South wraps up for the season May 11 with a two-hour special.
That's a week sooner than Haggis had expected, and just a few days before
he learns whether the show has been picked up for a second year.  He's
writing as fast as he can.