Toronto

Film company takes on TVO, Toronto Star over Kathleen Wynne documentary

The company that was commissioned to make a documentary about Premier Kathleen Wynne has entered into a war of words with The Toronto Star and TVO.

Toronto Star defends decision to view Wynne documentary

At a press conference Thursday, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she wanted the documentary about her to be released, adding that “had I not been interested in transparency… then I wouldn’t have gone into the project in the first place.” (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

The company that was commissioned to make a documentary about Premier Kathleen Wynne has entered into a war of words with The Toronto Star and TVO.

Last month, TVO said it was backing out of the project because of concerns about its "editorial integrity."

The documentary, Premier: The Unscripted Kathleen Wynne‎‎, had been commissioned from White Pine Pictures, and TVO says it insisted "there be a journalistic treatment" of the film, including hiring a journalist as the director.

But after director Roxana Spicer walked away from the project, TVO terminated its agreement and announced it is looking for White Pine Pictures to refund the $114,075 advance.

On Thursday, White Pine Pictures president Peter Raymont said he was frustrated that the Toronto Star "published clips from an unauthorized, copyrighted version of the documentary."

Raymont was referring to an article that Robert Benzie, the paper's Queen's Park bureau chief, wrote Thursday. Benzie, who was among the journalists interviewed for Premier: The Unscripted Kathleen Wynne‎‎, has seen the documentary.

In his story, Benzie wrote the film may never be broadcast because the premier and her officials won't sign release forms.

Raymont says Wynne's office is not blocking the airing of the documentary, "and has arranged for all remaining releases to be signed to facilitate a prompt broadcast."

Premier says she hasn't seen film

At a press conference Thursday, Wynne said she wanted the documentary to be released, adding that "had I not been interested in transparency… then I wouldn't have gone into the project in the first place."

She told reporters she has not seen the film.

Raymont, who says "the editorial claims made by Star reporter Robert Benzie are inaccurate," also accused the paper of "theft and re-use of stolen property."

"As a news organization that has long defended itself against similar theft of its creative product I am disappointed that the Star has behaved so cavalierly toward another professional with a demonstrated commitment to serious journalism," Raymont said in a statement.

Michael Cooke, an editor at The Star, dismissed Raymont's accusation.

"Given the public dollars spent on that film, given the public interest in the story, and given the deliberate edited brevity of the two clips we used, our legal advice sought beforehand was that we were well within the boundary of copyright violation," Cooke wrote in an email to CBC News.

Raymont also accused TVO of abandoning the production while editing was still in progress.

"We dispute TVO's assertions that White Pine Pictures was deficient in fulfilling the delivery requirements of the film, which was in post-production. TVO has twice issued statements that impugn my professional reputation and integrity," he said. "It is not uncommon for creative differences to arise during the production and editing of a documentary, particularly one with political themes."

TVO says the lack of a director is a "fundamental deficiency" for a documentary, and a film "consistent with TVO's journalistic standards for editorial integrity, independence and quality" was not delivered.

"In my experience, such difficulties have always been resolved," Raymont said.