Final cut creating a buzz

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

The chase for the great Canadian hockey dream is approaching the finish line.

And the way Scott Moore sees it, television's first attempt at a hockey reality show has -- if you'll pardon the rather obvious pun -- made the cut with viewers across this land.

The former production boss at TSN and Rogers Sportsnet has seen a lot of television over the years, and spent much of his summer immersed in contract work at the Athens Olympics.

But the buzz he's sensed as CBC's Making the Cut nears its conclusion just might top them all.

"I'm amazed at the interest in it," said Moore, the producer of the series, which wraps up with a two-hour live finale on Tuesday night at Mississauga's Hershey Centre. "I've never worked on a project -- and that includes the Olympics -- that more people have wanted to talk to me about. It just seems like it's struck a nerve with people ... there's a certain Canadiana to it all."

More than 4,000 players from coast-to-coast attended the original series of tryouts for the series, created by Derik Murray of Vancouver's Network Productions (he hired Moore to produce Making the Cut).

18 FINALISTS

Now it's down to a final 18 for Tuesday's show.

What will viewers see?

In the first hour, Moore said, a skills competition modelled after the one you see each year at the NHL all-star game (well, in non-lockout years, that is).

"We want to make sure the audience gets a good feel for the players," he said.

The drama comes in the second half -- that's when representatives of six Canadian NHL teams choose the players who'll get an invite to their training camp next fall.

"Honestly, we don't know who the top people will be," said Moore from Vancouver.

When CBC launched the series in September, it hoped to attract audiences of about 700,000 per episode. The average has been closer to 500,000, with another 100-150,000 tuning in to a Saturday afternoon repeat.

"The numbers have not been as high as we would have liked," admitted Moore. "But the great thing for CBC is the demographic we're getting ... it's unbelievable.

"It's the youngest audience of any (prime-time) show CBC has on by a long shot."

RANGE OF CHARACTERS

Moore believes the concept has worked because viewers have bought into the series' characters, ranging from "the great Canadian boy next door to the hockey villain you played against when you were a kid."

"The real challenge was to get (viewers) to know these guys well enough and get attached enough to have an emotional reaction to them," Moore said in describing the key element that pulls in reality show addicts. "They got more attached than we expected.

"Some players, you never got to know at all. Even some of the final 18 we never got to develop."

So now that the 13-episode series is almost done, the next question is this: Will there be another Making the Cut?

Moore hopes so, but adds that's up to the network and the show's sponsors (Bell being the primary one).

"I hope we do it again next year," he said. "I'm proud of what we did the first year. I'd give it a solid eight out of 10 in terms of production.

"I think we could make it nine out of 10 next year."


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