News / Kitchener

Hespeler becomes a lair for werewolves, in new TV show Bitten

CAMBRIDGE — Hespeler village is home to herons and swans and turtles.

Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

In a few weeks, thanks to TV producers, bloodthirsty werewolves running with a lovely lycanthrope will be moving in. There goes the neighbourhood.

Goodbye, Hespeler — puckhappy outpost of the hockey Shamrocks.

Hello, Bear Valley, N.Y. — haven of the howling North American Wolf Pack.

“That’s what they want to turn Hespeler into,” said Rob Cox, owner of Ernie’s Roadhouse, which overlooks the Speed River from Queen Street. Yes, Bear Valley. Just a temporary Hespeler transformation — probably for just a day or two each month from April to August — to a growly upstate New York town with a wild tale to tell.

That’s one of the settings for Bitten, the story of the world’s only female werewolf, Elena Michaels. Thirteen episodes are being produced for Bell Media’s Space channel. The series is based on the 2001novel from bestselling Canadian author Kelley Armstrong, and a dozen Otherworld series books it spawned.

This is an erotically charged adult thriller with sharp bite, not a Twilight- style teenie soaper. If it’s successful, it could come back to Cambridge year after year.

“It’s really exciting,” Armstrong said on Thursday from her home in Aylmer, Ont.

Production officials have been scouting Hespeler locations all week. One official came into Ernie’s for lunch in the village’s quaint time-capsule downtown core. “He likes the feel of our town,” Cox said.

A silver-bullet deal with the City of Cambridge has yet to be announced, although a city spokesperson confirmed negotiations with a location manager are underway.

Once details are firm, Hespeler-wood will welcome up to 100 cast and crew for the monthly shoots.

“The Hespeler-area in Cambridge will provide the perfect backdrop for elements of our Bitten storyline,” executive producer and director J.B. Sugar said in an email to The Record. “We look forward to shooting there this spring.”

Hespeler is ready for Elena Michaels — a journalist by day, with a Lon Chaney Jr. full-moon makeover always looming. with Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid. Cruickston mansion could also be a perfect Blair location for Bitten’s werewolf sanctuary, Stonehaven. A production publicist would not confirm Cruickston is in Bitten’s plans.

A decade ago, even before the first book was released, a movie version of Bitten was to star Angelina Jolie as Elena.

“She liked the character and signed on,” Armstrong said.

But big-screen plans for Bitten fizzled.

Armstrong is just glad to see her Otherworld stories come to a screen, big or small.

“Hollywood and Hollywood North buy a lot of rights,” she said.

“I’ve been through this several times. It’s not uncommon to sell rights. It’s uncommon to actually have them get this far.”

But who will play Elena when cast and crew come to Hespeler? That’s a secret Armstrong, who found out last week, is keeping.

“I’m not allowed to say a word,” she said.

But Hespeler is bursting with the news of its big TV role — as Bear Valley. “It’s really cool,” Hood-Morris said.

Hespeler doesn’t mind being a little on the shaggy side.

“We need the attention,” said Wendy Hood-Morris, owner of Millpond Records and Books across the street from Ernie’s.

Besides often left feeling sorry for itself as the weakest of Cambridge’s three sister-cores, it could use a little snarl in its woebegone demeanour.

“It would put a little pride in the town,” said Hood-Morris, who watches the Bitten books fly off the shelves whenever they come into her used book store. “This is a beautiful place.” So is Cruickston Park Estate, where parts of the 2003 thriller Cold Creek Manor were filmed.

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