Nfld. & Labrador

Rex, the crime-fighting dog, to begin filming in St. John's

Think Jake Doyle, if he was a German shepherd.

100-person crew to wrap shooting before Christmas on 8 episodes

Diesel, a two-year-old German shepherd, is one of three dogs to play Rex. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

There is a new crime-fighting action hero in St. John's, and he's a very good boy.

A 100-person film crew will begin work on a new show called Rex on Thursday morning, a reboot of a European series featuring a man and a dog solving crime.

The original show, Inspector Rex — or Kommissar Rex in its native German in Austria — aired for 14 years in more than 100 countries.

And now for the first time, the German shepherd is a Newfoundlander.

"We're setting this in St. John's," said producer Christina Jennings. "It is St. John's. We're not pretending it's somewhere else."

Jennings and her company, Shaftesbury, have partnered with Newfoundland's Paul Pope, of Pope Productions, to bring the show to Canada.

Christina Jennings of Shaftesbury and Paul Pope of Pope Productions are combining forces to bring a reboot of the European show Inspector Rex to Newfoundland. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

They'll shoot eight episodes for Rogers channel City TV between now and Christmas, using a largely local film crew. 

Pope said the steady stream of work for the Newfoundland and Labrador film industry lately is creating a skilled workforce that's drawing industry attention.

Many of the people working on Rex also worked on CBC's Little Dog and Caught, as well as Discovery's Frontier.

"That's how you get an excellent crew," he said. "There has to be a reliable sort of continuous employment."

The film sector in Newfoundland and Labrador has now surpassed $500 million in the last 21 years, with $58 million of activity in the last year, according to Chris Mitchelmore, minister of tourism, culture, industry and innovation.

The province put $4 million of public money into an equity program for the film industry in the last budget, which helped fund Rex.

Shaftesbury is the production company behind several Canadian TV shows, including Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries. 

They obtained the story rights for a Rex reboot 12 years ago and have been holding on to it ever since.

Three dogs in one

The dog was front and centre on Wednesday at a press conference inside the Alt Hotel.

Diesel, a German shepherd trained in Ancaster, Ont., is the primary of three dogs who come together to play the eponymous character.

Working interchangeably with him are a stunt double and a photography double, for the days where Diesel is running low on fuel.

"The dog is working actually five days a week, so we want to be able to be sure he gets his rest and his down time when he needs it," said dog trainer Sherri Davis.

Sherri Davis is Rex's dog trainer, and was on hand Wednesday to show people some tricks with one of the dogs playing the lead role. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"Diesel here is a grand champion show dog, so he really didn't have a lot of movie training behind him. So it's been very intense with his training, learning to jump over buildings and walls and the Superman stunts. But he's accepted it very well."

Davis said the local community has already taken a shining to the cast of dogs, often stopping her as she takes them for walks and even approaching her in the grocery store to ask about Rex — both the dog and the TV show.

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