Rogers served notice that they were back in the 10 o'clock business at their 2010 Fall upfront Wednesday in Toronto. The conspicuously solvent cable and broadcast giant, which muscled into the Toronto market last year by adding Citytv to their multicultural OMNI channels, fell for that Leno at 10 prank in 2009. On the plus side, they also caught the comedy revival wave early, loading up on critical faves Modern Family, Community and Cougar Town.
At the recent Hollywood show market, they threw plenty of cable subscriber cash as U.S. drama providers and should dent CTV and Global's dominance at 9 and 10 next season.
A lot is riding on The Whole Truth, a Jerry Bruckheimer legal drama in the Wednesday at 10 slot on Citytv. Numb3rs lead Rob Morrow makes the weekly case for the defence. His DA babe adversary is apparently being recast.
The clip screened Wednesday at the well attended Canon Theatre presentation just seemed like another legal show to me but those who have seen the whole pilot say they're taken with the whole you're in the jury box format.
City will throw Chase up against Global's Hawaii FIVE-0 Mondays at 10. Another Bruckheimer drama, this features surprisingly spunky Jennifer Johnson (Cold Case) as part of an elite team of U.S. marshalls on the tail of America's most wanted.
The clip that popped for me was Undercovers, a Mr. & Mrs Smith spy drama from J.J. Abrams. Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (right) will have copy editors cursing everywhere but in a season of same-olds, viewers will only see two hot and fresh faces in sexy spy capers. Tuesday at 8, however, makes Undercovers an odd opener for City's smart 9 o'clock comedies.
City's big steal this year was prying Fringe (starring Joshua Jackson, below) away from CTV and /A\; it airs Thursdays at 9. They also picked up Rules of Engagement and will pair it behind a comedy they successfully stole last year, How I Met Your Mother.
The Event is a Monday at 9 entry that could be the next 24 or the next FlashForward. Jason Ritter stars as an everyman in the middle of a conspiracy nightmare. An exec said Event was the most buzzed about show of the season, which is what Global said Tuesday about Hawaii FIVE-0. CTV will say it again Thursday about something else.
City loses CanCon brownie points in prime time by stripping Law & Order SVU Mon.-Fri. at 7, but waves the flag hard on the weekends with unscripted entries Survivorman and Mantracker on Fridays and the animated Glenn Martin, Out There with TVFMF fave Melissa DiMarco and a "Canadian Movie" on Saturdays (what--Porkys again?). Conviction Kitchen returns Sundays as does hardy drawing room drama Murdoch Mysteries (starring Yannick Bisson, below), back for a fourth season.
On balance, the Citytv schedule still seems like somebody dropped a box full of show titles and spilled them all over the floor. A heavy reliance on NBC offerings is a bit of a hail mary. Still, there are some enduring ratings magnets in the mix, including The Biggest Loser, Hell`s Kitchen as well as those NFL Sunday overruns and various editions of The Bachelor.
Rogers showy sales presentation took place at the Canon Theatre, where the cast of Rock of Ages got things off to a lively start. Toronto Rapper More or Les (Moonves?) tried to whip the twentysomething ad buyers into a frenzy by chanting "When I say City, you say TV." This gave many in the room their first extended twitter break.
Several Rogers execs, including CEO Leslie Sole and top show fetcher Malcolm Dunlop, followed. One joked that they have plenty of Jay Leno mugs left. Citytv's Breakfast Television stars Kevin Frankish and Dina Pugliese did some mugging of their own. The four other members of Community were flown up to wave at ad buyers and charmed critics at the afternoon press op.
The City stat attack was limited and effective. We were told, amid all the U.S. series clips, that 27.5 hours a week of the schedule is filled with original programming (58 hours if you count the OMNI multi-cultural entries). This after a high powered stage presentation that featured not one new scripted Canadian TV program. Hey ACTRA--is your gripe just with Global?
Another zinger was the claim that City ratings soared 71% last season among viewers 25-54 in prime time. Take a bow, PPM thingys.
After the speedy clip-o-rama, the festivities moved a few doors north to the Hard Rock Cafe, which seriously needs to invest in an air conditioner.