Learned a lot last night at the annual Media Profile holiday party in Toronto. The semi-formal bash, held this year at The Brant House on King Street, was packed with many of the usual suspects. I got talking to a couple of CBC producers who told me some astounding stuff that I have to sit on today, which sucks.
What I did learn that can be shared I pretty much threw over to The Canadian Press today. Much of that had to do with a spate of reality shows coming in 2009 to CBC, including some info about this idea to recreate the Terry Fox run half way across Canada. The reality/documentary series, with 12 runners to be selected and followed in a series of daily marathons, is set to hit the starting line in April. There's also news and dates on returning CBC reality series The Week The Women Went and The Next Great Prime Minister. Read my full CP report here.
If things seemed a little less festive at this year's Media Profile event, despite the ever tasty mini burgers and gloriously free bar, the gloom hanging over the industry as a whole was mainly to blame. There are fears inside and outside the CBC of further cutbacks and layoffs. Some speculated that only the Conservative's economic statement screw up has kept a rumoured $200 million CBC budget clawback from becoming a reality--for now.
Did run into CBC programming boss Kirstine Layfield, smashing as always, this time in a long, sparkily silver dress. Congratulated her on a strong fall, one I didn't think her network would earn. Hey, Mr. TV Feeds My Family has been wrong before.
Heading into fall with not a single new show seemed a missed opportunity given the soft September launch on all the private networks, understocked with U.S. wares due to the lingering effects of the writers strike. I thought this was a missed opportunity, but what happened was that CBC broke out anyway, with established shows such as the Rick Mercer Report soaring to near million-a-week numbers and topping the million mark several weeks in a row. Dragon's Den leapt 54% this season, and Air Farce soared on Friday nights with a huge lift over last season. Sure, Little Mosque and Sophie have gone in the dumper, but, overall, CBC is up. Thank you Jeopardy.
NBC's little caper to move Leno to 10 p.m. and ditch all their dramas was a hot topic in the room. How will that play out in Canada? CTV/A now airs several NBC 10 p.m. shows, including the two Law & Orders currently at 10 and ER (which ends its 16-year run in May anyway). They will have holes to fill next September when and if NBC makes this radical move, although CTV--even after sharing shows with A--always has plenty on the shelf.
As does Global which has the awkward problem this coming Monday of owning five shows it could simulcast and only one timeslot to fill.
As tempting at it might be to follow NBC down this austerity path, the consensus in the room last night was that neither CTV or Global would likely commit to NBC's Jaywalking stunt. Rogers, on the other hand, anxious to put their own stamp on their newly acquired City-TV brand, just might give Leno at 10 a shot in Canada. Stay tuned.