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    Goosebumps is an anthology series, shot in and around Toronto, based on a series of successful kids' books and produced for FOX and YTV by Toronto-based Protocol Entertainment, in association with Scholastic Productions. The show was shot for four seasons (1995-1999) and continues to air regularly in Canada and various other markets.

    Goosebumps - adapted from its namesake monthly kids/ novels - rose to the top of the crop in one season, and its primetime premiere beat every demographic in its Friday night 8:30 slot except the over 55 group. In Canada, where episodes of the popular scary show continue to run on children's specialty channel YTV, the premier increased the network's reach by 22%, racking up the highest numbers in YTV history.

    For those who don't have 8 - 12-year-olds scrambling for the next issue of Goosebumps (they have reportedly sold over 60 million copies in the U.S.), the books consist of outlandish tales, ranging from a spook story about summer camp from hell (where the snakes bite and the counselors don't care) to the take of a scuzzy sponge beneath the kitchen sink that is in fact a pulsating, morphing monster.

    Night at Terror Tower, the first special of Goosebump’s second season in 1996, was, according to producer Steve Levitan, one of the show’s most ambitious episodes.

    Set in the Tower of London in both the present day and in the late seventeenth century, Levitan had one of three options in selecting his location: go to London, build the Tower in studio or use Casa Loma, Toronto's only castle. The castle was the most practical and affordable alternative, says Levitan.

    A faux creation in the style of Edwardian European architecture, the castle was built by local mogul Sir Henry Pellatt in 1914 at a cost of $3.5 million. He went bankrupt seeing his dream home realized and the City of Toronto took over the property. Many productions have shot at Casa Loma over the years, but it is rare that the location is used as the primary set for an entire production.

    Levitan and his 80-person crew shot day and night at the castle for two weeks and used every inch of the property, with the central hall standing in for the Tower and the nearby stables dressed to emulate a medieval village. The rental was worth it: little was needed beyond cosmetic dressing, says Levitan.

    The time-travel story, about an American family on its way to London, follows the adventures of two children who are whisked back 300 years while on a tour of the Tower of London. The kids discover they were once bluebloods whose lives were threatened by an evil minister who wanted to chop off their heads. A benevolent sorcerer managed to save them from their fate by catapulting them into the future. Now returned to the past, the children have to find their escape all over again.

    At the top of Levitan's list of priorities is to ensure high production values, something he attributes in part to creating the overwhelming success of the series and of the one-hour premiere. With Night at Terror Tower, although he is working within a fixed budget of about $14 million for the entire season, Levitan says it's no-holds-barred.

    Levitan did not worry that he was setting a dangerous precedent with this show. "We're trying to show enormously high production values on a children's show and we're managing to do it with the resources we've got. We have one rule on this show: there isn't anything we can't do”.

    A great challenge for any anthology series is casting and Levitan cast very widely across the country. Although he was worried at the outset of season one that finding enough kids would be next to impossible, he was much more optimistic for season two and onwards. "It turns our there are a lot of new kids we haven't yet seen. Also, some of the ones we have cast have matured by a year, their skills are better. The (talent) pool has a surprising depth.

    "One other thing was crucial to the show's success," he adds, "and it was a big worry before we started: the special effects."

    Digital effects, headed by Gary Mueller, involve anything from a simple color tint to a fairly elaborate Flame morph, and Levitan says it's key to respect the medium and keep them to a minimum. Otherwise, "it's very hard in television to give it enough time and because you're working with the small screen you just can't compete with True Lies or a Star Trek movie."

    Mueller started out working in post on the Friday the 13th series approximately 15 years ago. The first episode of Goosebumps he had to wrangle with in FX was The Haunted Mask, which threaded the image of a flying mask chasing a young girl through the episode.

    In search of depth and reality, the method chosen was to shoot on the permanent blue screen setup at the Goosebumps studios. "Blue screen has greater depth and more of a realistic feel. When we brought it into post and removed all the backgrounds we inserted the appropriate images and keyed in what we could. What didn't key in we painted out using the Flame system, " explains Mueller.

    Mueller was working with Ron Stefaniuk of Toronto-based Quantum Leap, who handled physical effects on Goosebumps, on a scene where a boy is running frantically down a dark corridor while surrounded by bats. While Stefaniuk was putting together some motorized bats that will be pinned to a young actor's sweater, Mueller was creating, via animation, the swarm of bats. "It was a very ambitious script," he said of Night at Terror Tower. "It was wonderful to work on."

    The creative team on Goosebumps included co-producer Patrick Doyle, executive producer Deborah Forte of Scholastic, co-executive producers Bill Siegler and Martha Atwater, art director Ian Brock, locations manager Sherry Wolfson and DOP Brian Hebb. The Director was Bill Fruet and writers included Canadians Chuck Laser, Rick Drew, Bruce Edwards and Sean Kelly with Los Angeles-based executive story editors Dan Angel and Billy Brown.

    According to the official sneak peek site for R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It on Cartoon Network.com, Goosebumps is set to start airing again in the U.S. on Cartoon Network every weekday night at 8pm starting October 1st 2007.