One glaring omission in all of yesterday's CTV 2008 upfront hoopla--there was almost no mention of Canadian Idol.
Odd, since it returns tonight for a sixth season (9 p.m., CTV) Usually Ben Mulroney takes the stage and lights firecrackers out his ass. Anything to draw attention to this show.
So is this the last season? Yesterday at the upfront, CTV programming president Susanne Boyce made a passing reference to the article I wrote for The Toronto Star Sunday, which suggested the end was near. Despite what you might have read or heard, she said, Canadian Idol was "not going anywhere anytime soon." Then she never mentioned it again (although, to be fair, CTV's upfront concluded with a rousing showstopper from new Idol mentor Jully Black).
Neither Mulroney nor any of the four judges were in the house yesterday, at least as far as I could tell. (UPDATE: Scott Henderson at CTV has informed me that Mulroney and Zack Werner were indeed at the Four Seasons. The three other judges were either on the road or had family commitments.) Producer John Brunton (above), who I interviewed for the Star piece last week, was on the scene along with CTV programming V.P. Ed Robinson. Neither looked too pleased to see me and I can't blame them. It sucks to spend 10 or 15 minutes out of a busy day to be interviewed for a newspaper article, only to see your name attached to one or two quotes in a story arguing that your show is not the hit it once was. (One CTV publicist referred to the Star story as a "chop job" yesterday, although I've received feedback from other sources suggesting the piece was too fair.) The principle of adversarial journalism is not so embraced in this day and age of converged media--not every network gets that you are not working for them.
Both Brunton and Robinson are justifiably proud of the series and are excited about this season, which begins tonight. Canadian Idol, by any measure, is a huge Canadian success story, a true fan favorite and a slick, well produced show.
Brunton, who is producing shows all over town (including last fall's Deal Or No Deal Canada for Global), has become the go-to guy for live TV in this country. He was clearly pissed to see me yesterday, but he was also big enough to thank me for writing about Canadian Idol, getting that even bad news is good news if names are spelled right and the day and date info is correct.
The argument he made to me yesterday that TV is down everywhere, not just on his show, is also valid, although I'd argue I've been reporting about that for over a year, filing at least half a dozen columns for CP on the crater in broadcast TV ratings.
In any event, I promised him I'd tune in tonight and watch out for this kid who came all the way from London to audition for the series. Brunton said he was blown away by his talent and predicted the show might finally have found a contestant Toronto could fully embrace and get behind. Tune in and judge for yourself, tonight at 9 p.m. on CTV.