Thursday, June 3, 2010
As TV launches go CTV's fall schedule and gala party at the new Thompson hotel on Wellington St. W. was a muted affair.
In the past CTV would import buckets of American stars to the fall launches and over the years I got to interview Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy, the dames from Desperate Housewives and Kate Walsh from Private Practice in rare one-on -one encounters.
This year the U.S. stars were conspicuously missing. It was a launch that emphasized frugality but also played up the Canadian series CTV now wants to promote.
CTV's fall schedules includes 11 new series (many of these are costly imports).
And irony of ironies CTV will run Conan O'Brien at 1 a.m. weeknights after Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Conan defected from NBC when the peacock proud network tried to bump his Tonight show to 12.05 a.m. remember?
But CTV does have some significant Canadian additions.
Citytv's Marilyn Dennis will host a new version of her chatter show week mornings at 10-- CTV has needed a Canadian daily talk show ever since Vicki Gabereau and Dini Petty Ieft the network.
The Borgias is going to be the next important Canadian co-production --it's from the same team headed by ace producer Sheila Hockin that made The Tudors and before that Queer As Folk and will star Jeremy Irons and Stratford star Colm Feore.
And CTV has ordered up such U.S. imports as No Ordinary Family, The Defenders (with Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell), Law & Order: Los Angeles, Mr. Sunshine (Matthew Perry), and the new Criminal Minds spin-off with Forest Whittaker.
By my count CTV's prime time schedule will feature 18 hours of U.S. simulcasts a week while A Channel will have 14 hours of simulcasted U.S. shows a week.
LINDA SCHUYLER: (creator of Degrassi) ;" We're coming up to our 30th anniversary. And Jim you've been there for us all along. This season (moved to MuchMusic) we're going to tackle 48 episodes! That's twice the order for this year. How can we do it? I'll shoot four episodes simultaneously over 11 days. I'll use all the techniques I acquired on our soap Riverdale and I think I can make everything fresher than ever."
BRENT BUTT: (Hiccups): "Nancy (Robertson) had a prior engagement, she's busy elsewhere. We didn't know what to expect our first season. The reaction sort of overwhelmed us. Now they've put us before Dan For Mayor and it seems to viewers to be a sort of Corner Gas reunion type of thing. Yes, it's true another actor was used in the pilot. But the network said they wanted to see me in it and then I sort of wondered about all the situations I could write for both of us. So I'm back, I mean we're back. I mean together."
CRAIG OLEJNIK (The Listener): "People think we're cancelled. But we start work on our second season in August. We should be on the air next winter. It was NBC that didn't use us correctly, I feel. When they bailed out, that ver night, we got the largest audience up to then and we always did much better on CTV. I like the idea of a swap of episodes with Flashpoint, they could call in my character or something. It might be harder with Medium, we're on different networks. But we are coming back that's the big news."
PAUL POPOWICH (The Bridge): "You interviewed me on The Hardy Boys. Then again on Twice In A Lifetime."Note: Popowich seemed surprised when I told him that after co-star Al Waxman's death Sharon Gless had been preparing to step in for the third season (her husband Barney Rosenzweig was executive producer) but the U.S. network PAX lacked funds for another 13 episodes.
ENRICO COLANTONI (Flashpoint): "When we met in Hamilton where I was making the TV movie about Celine Dion, I told you I was ready to move back to my native Toronto and work. And then Flashpoint came right along. It starts up again on CBS this Friday. Not a vote of confidence to run in the summer but it may build an audience that way. We are getting better, getting into a rhythm. It just feels so natural to be back in my home town making this sdhow. And your other question about a movie of Veronica Mars? It should have happened, look at the success of Sex And The City. But I don't think it ever will, that's the sad part."
BRIAN WILLIAMS: "Now don't you go asking me how much CTV lost on the Olympics. I don't know but it could well even out after all the DVD sales. I only know it was the best one ever because we had almost all the events live. I've been doing these events since 1972, this one exceeded all others. When I left CBC pals warned me I'd be eaten alive at TSN. I've never encountered such professionalism, it all came together for us at these games and to be a part of the most watched moments on Canadian TV in the last 25 years was, well, pretty terrific."
After such close encounters I tip toed out as the crowd gorged on booze and dainties and spilled out onto the sidewalk.