CTV held their 2010 upfront Thursday night at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto. Remember Dieter, that character Mike Myers used to play on Saturday Night Live? His kind of urban shag spot, kind of German expressionism meets Ikea. It was all glass and reflective black and so cool it wasn't even finished yet. The adrogenous servers dressed in black, white and naked all had that freshly castrated look.
On the plus side, it was an open bar and the sliders were ever within reach.
If you knew somebody or were patient you got to go up to a deck level on the roof. There was a long line at the elevator and I had four or five stories I'd already pushed half a day waiting back in Brampton so pass on that. If you chose to line up for the elevator, it gave you time to reminisce about all those great upfront parties CHUM used to throw in that crazy Queen West parking lot and how you were always only ever a wrist band away from a true moment of zen.
Back on ground level, CTV's army of publicists did a good job funneling talent in among the ad kids and press weasels. First guy I ran into was the great Brian Williams, who still had that Vancouver Olympic glow. The man is a walking-talking story machine and had many nice things to say about NBC's Brian Williams and their fun Olympic encounter.
Marilyn Dennis (above with So You Think You Can Dance Canada host Leah Miller) was putting her latest best face forward, working the room now that CTV has announced the daytime diva will be back weekdays at 10 a.m. starting this September. Dennis isn't sure yet where she'll be taping but don't rule out a return to her old Cityline haunt at 299 Queen.
The whole gang from Flashpoint (left) made the scene, pumped at fresh news the shot-in-Toronto cop show has been renewed for a fourth season. Etobicoke lad Rico Colantoni (left with Hugh Dillon and the rest of the cast) was all over a suggestion I made earlier to producers Mark Ellis, Stephanie Morganstern and Bill Mustos that some sort of shoot 'em up be shot on top of the old Westwood theatre at Six Points. Those giant orange letters would made a doozy of a snipers nest. Ellis and Colantoni spent many a Saturday afternoon, it turns out, in the neighbourhood popcorn palace.
Saw Brent Butt (right with Paula Rivera and David Ingram) near the bar where he can afford to buy drinks for the house. CTV is stripping Corner Gas, five nights a week at 7 on /A\. Butt's new sitcom Hiccups has been picked up for another 13 episodes, along with Mark Farrell's comedy Dan For Mayor. Credit CTV with sticking with both shows despite a steep drop in ratings Monday nights off that Olympic diving board.
All those Canucks in the house were good optics for the Local TV Matters braintrust. Still, back in the not-so-broken business model days, a CTV upfront meant Sopranos and West Wing stars bumping into Desperate Housewives. Millions of Olympic dollars later, not even Shatner.
CTV also ordered more of The Bridge and--surprisingly--The Listener, and there were folks from those shows in the house. Again, full props to Susanne Boyce and company for giving some Canadian shows a second chance to find audiences.
Degrassi on the other hand--ten seasons of Next Generation?! Hey, I never did get it, but you would have a hard time meeting nicer folks than Stephan Brogren (a director and producer now as well as playing Snake) and producer Sara Snow, both out glad handing at the event. And get this--Snake becomes principal at the damn school next season (which starts this summer, where the show will get stripped nightly on MuchMusic). With extra episodes ordered, the total will be up around 235 episodes by the time season 10 is done--an 11th is apparently on the drawing board. Maybe Beachcombers racked up more episodes, but can`t think of any other scripted Canadian series that would even come close.
CTV will need a couple of their new imports to break out if they want to keep bragging about leading in Top 20 hits next season. Right now there are plenty of question marks. All that show jockeying south of the border has dented CTV's schedule more than the other guys. CBS moving Big Bang Theory to Thursday at 8 takes once mighty CSI out of simulcast (and bumps Vampire Diaries over to /A\). Sunday at 10 seems like a sleepy time for a sizzler like CSI Miami. Simulcasting blue chip import Blue Bloods (starring Tom Selleck) Fridays at 10 steals a winning Cancon slot.
Spring brings a Simon-less Idol back and who knows if that sucker will still sing. Cowell's new show, The X-Factor, doesn't hit the sked till Fall 2011.
The /A\ sked seems like a specialty lineup with Criminal Minds running five nights a week in prime and "The Big Picture" taking up six hours a week of the schedule. CTV is trying to stack 10 p.m. with blood and violence leading into their top-rated newscasts. Hey, it's worked up till now.