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Paul Donovan (writer)

Paul Donovan is a Canadian television and film writer, director and producer best known as the creator of the science-fiction TV series, LEXX. He co-founded Salter Street Films (SSF) with his brother Michael Donovan.

Donovan was born in Canada on June 26, 1954. He grew up interested in science and film, and earned a B.Sc. in Physics from Dalhousie University, and graduated from London Film School. The IMDb credits South Pacific 1942 as the first film he directed, and in 1983 the Donovan brothers founded Salter Street Films, a television and film production company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Salter Street Films was named after the street in Halifax where Michael had been living.

The company began life with early problems. Its first major feature film was Def-Con 4 (1985) which eventually became profitable, but other pictures such as George's Island (1989), Buried on Sunday (1992) and Paint Cans (1994), though critically acclaimed, were money-losers. They also produced A Switch in Time, but the distributor's title change to Norman's Awesome Experience made the unique time travel comedy, in which language barrier is fundamental to the story, sound like a knockoff of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, as both films were released in 1989. The company's salvation turned out to be the science fiction series Lexx, which was a hit in Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe. This Canadian-German co-production went on to become a lucrative money-maker through international sales and was one of the first shows to develop a cult following almost exclusively through the Internet. Fans of Lexx nicknamed Donovan and the show's other main writers, Lex Gigeroff and Jeffrey Hirschfield, "The Supreme Beans".

Concurrently, the Donovan brothers found success with the satirical This Hour Has 22 Minutes becoming a hit on CBC as well as other series such as CODCO, Emily of New Moon, Made in Canada, Blackfly, the children's series Pirates and the special Rick Mercer's Talking To Americans. These shows found homes on the CBC as well as other Canadian networks and cable channels. Salter Street also created the Stop motion children's show Poko.

Based on their reputation for political satire, American documentary film-maker Michael Moore approached Salter Street to produce his Bowling for Columbine project. Michael Donovan agreed, and arranged financing in Canada and Germany. The documentary won both the Anniversary Prize at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

In 2000, a year after the Donovan brothers had taken the company public, Salter Street Films was awarded the broadcast licence for the Independent Film Channel Canada by the CRTC. This potentially lucrative award, combined with SSF’s reputation as a content-provider, attracted interest from the powerful media corporation Alliance Atlantis. Alliance Atlantis bought Salter Street from the majority shareholders the following year. Paul and Michael Donovan remained on as producers. In 2003, two years after the purchase, Alliance Atlantis closed the operation, transferring Salter Street's ongoing television productions to Alliance.

Michael Donovan has formed the Halifax Film Company with many of the former Salter Street employees. Paul Donovan has continued as an independent producer and director. In 2006, he created a new Canadian minseries, a period political drama called The Conclave set in the 15th century. The show stars Brian Blessed and features former Lexx star Brian Downey as a scheming monk. Downey has been a regular in Donovan's work since the 1980s, dating back at least to George's Island in 1989.


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