Monday, May 31, 2010

CBC Hires Lawyer as New Head of Comedy

CBC Television announced Monday in Toronto that Jenny Hacker has been appointed creative head of comedy. Hacker replaces Anton Leo, who is now a bigger head, or as CBC calls it, senior executive in charge of production for live comedy.
Prior to joining CBC in 2007, Hacker worked as a lawyer in the TV industry. You could say that she dropped her briefs to work at CBC. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.
If Hacker had been a judge and then become a justice of the supreme court, you could say that she lost her honour to become a madam. But no, she will head comedy development at CBC, beating out several accountants and an actuary for the job. There might even have been a comptroller.
Hiring a lawyer for the top network comedy job may seem like an odd choice but consider some of Hacker's landmark court triumphs. There was Roe v. Costello, Regina v. 30 Rock and Joe E. Brown v. Board of Education.
Aside from making Peter Mansbridge do stand up, CBC hasn't exactly been on a comedy tear of late. There'll be fewer episodes of 22 Minutes next season. Ron James won another half season plus New Year's Eve gig, and there'll be more Just Four Laughs. As announced last week, the Paul Gross comedy Men with Brooms is joining the CBC schedule in 2010-11. Not as fall-down-funny as his more recent film Paschendale, but it's a start.
Comedy is the hot genre Stateside this upfront season so, yes, sure, put a lawyer in charge. "CBC Comedy--Laugh or we'll sue your ass!"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

This Week's Podcast: Hamilton, the new Hollywood North

Scott Thompson at CHML Talk Radio reports that there are TV trucks all over the streets of Hamilton. That's because the QEW commuterville offers better tax incentives than Toronto to producers scouting Ontario locations.
The sci-fi thriller Blood of Pegasus starring Nazneen Contractor and Rae Dawn Chong just wrapped there, and the sexy Showcase series Lost Girl is camped in Hamilton all summer. That steamy fantasy stars Anna Silk (who played Erica's temptation last season on Being Erica) as as succubus "who feeds on the sexual energy of mortals." Hello--I think I need to visit that set. Now Shannen Doherty, fresh from Dancing with the Stars, is coming to Steeltown to shoot Witchslayer, another Canwest/Syfy collaboration.
I also talk to Scott about the trip to Halifax to visit two others sets, the Showcase/Syfy series Haven and the new Trailer Park Boys series Drunk and on Drugs. As the critters used to say on The Flintstones, "It's a living." You can listen in here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Drunk and on Drugs with the Trailer Park Boys

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--Barely recognized Robb Wells and John Paul Tremblay (above right with me and Mike Smith) on location at their new series Drunk and on Drugs. The former Trailer Park Boys have both shaved off their face hair. Gone are Ricky's trade mark sideburns and Julian's black hair and goatee. J.P. in particular was barely recognizable, especially without a mixed drink in his hand. He had just shaved off the beard the day before and said his own kids didn't recognize him. "I hate it," says Tremblay, who had been dyeing his hair black for ten years. "Nobody is buying me drinks anymore."
Tremblay, Wells and Smith--who found TPB fever alive and well on a recent concert swing through Los Angeles--have concocted what will either be the greatest Canadian TV series of all time or one hell of a car wreck. Either way you won't be able to not look.
The threesome have been jotting down ideas for the series over the last three years. They came up with so many characters they decided to throw them all into the same series.
The show follows the real life actors on their quest to do a variety follow up series to TPB called "The Happy Funtime Hour." Somebody, however, slips them some drugs and what follows is one crazy hallucination from multiple perspectives. The actors play dozens of characters; Wells was dressed in a bee costume yesterday with a pizza box smashed over his head. Yesterday, at a vintage motel set up, Cops and Nazi's were pummeling a stand in for guest star Maury Chaykin. Some of this deal will be animated, some shot to look like grainy WWI-era footage. It all takes place in--wait for it--Port Cockerton.
Director Ron Murphy, who I ran into a few months ago on the set of Dan For Mayor, agreed with visiting critic Rob Salem's assessment that this series was basically Monty Python on drugs. A giant blue handicap parking sign was painted on the parking lot pavement behind where the director was standing. A giant square penis was about to be attached. "Do you want us to cock up the handicap sign?" a production designer asked Murphy. "Get Mike [Smith] to do it, he's good at cocking up stuff," said Murph.
Six episodes are being shot, with red hot Canadian Jay Barushel (She's Out of My League)--apparently a huge TPB's fan--working a few shows "for Canadian money."
None of it makes sense. The shows are a half hour long and its called "The Happy Funtime Hour." The second season, according to Smith, is being shot first.
It's going to be amazing.
Look for it on Showcase next winter. Fasten your seat belts.

Halifax Homage to Don Messer's Jubilie

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--Had to "Smile Awhile" when I spotted Charlie Chamberlain, Don Messer and Marg Osborne in a window display at The Puffin down by Halifax's historical properties district. The hand-carved tribute to CBC's Don Messer's Jubilie (1957-69) is a Canadian boomer delight, one of several impressive wooden carvings made locally and on display at The Puffin, including a larger than life tribute to Pierre Trudeau. There are carvings of Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe but not of Wayne Gretzky as the store owner requested. The artist wasn't sure how the Great One would turn out and didn't want to risk the tribute.
Don Messer's was a half hour music series which originated right from Halifax. In the mid-'60s, it was second only to Hockey Night in Canada in popularity in Canada, outdrawing even such popular U.S. imports on the public broadcaster as The Ed Sullivan Show. When CBC cancelled the fiddle show in '69, people went nuts. CHCH picked it up and the show continued in syndication until Messer's death in 1973.
Wooden Don and company, by the way, are not for sale.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Art Linkletter: 1912-2010

Art Linkletter seemed to be on TV all the time when I was a child. In those black and white, pre-school days, he was the kindly man in the business suit talking to kids in the hours after Friendly Giant and before the soaps.
A friend who reads this blog (that is a friend) emailed his memories of Linkletter, who died Wednesday at 97. "I always thought that he was the kindest, most unassuming TV personality, just a down-to-earth, decent man," the friend wrote. (Pat McConvey wishes to remain anonymous.) "I can recall the start of People Are Funny when the animated, individual letters of the show's title would march across the screen, while the announcer would say, 'People...' then wait for the word, 'Are...' wait for the word, 'Funny' and the word would come across."
Linkletter was a natural broadcaster, cut from the same cloth as Friendly Giant Bob Homme, Captain Kangaroo's calm and soothing Bob Keeshan, Dick Clark, guys like Letterman and Regis today. He could wing it on TV and you could listen to him all day. He just had a winning way of putting you at ease.
Got to meet him a few times. The first was on the 35th anniversay of the opening of Disneyland, in July of 1990. Linkletter, Bob Cummings and some guy named Ronald Reagan hosted the theme park's opening day TV special in 1955 and the entertainment company--then in all its Michael Eisner glory--brought all three back for a lavish anniversary bash. Cummings--ageless for many years--was in rough shape and died soon after. Reagan was out of office less than two years. Linkletter, who was a close pal of Walt Disney, looked and sounded as smooth and professional as he did in the early '60s.
Outside on a riser contructed in front of the town square train station, the place swarming with security, Disney pulled out all the stops and gave Reagan a 21-gun salute. Trouble is they didn't tell him. When the guns started booming out at the Anaheim, Calif., theme park, everybody on the dias flinched and ducked, including Mickey and Donald. Reagan, standing next to Linkletter, crisply ad-libbed, "They missed."
About five years ago, CBS invited Linkletter to one of their crowded press tour partys. Word filtered through the room that, if you were tired of talking to Brad Garrett or Ray Romano or whoever, TV legend Linkletter was sitting in the corner.
He was as sharp as a tack. Those of us who started shouting were promptly told his hearing was perfectly fine. He was full of stories about the old days, including his Canadian roots. (Linkletter was born in Moose Jaw, Sask.) I'll try and dig the tape out when I get back from this road trip and post a little of that encounter.
The last time I spoke with him was in 2007. Linkletter, who wrote many books, was available for phoners while promoting his last effort, "How to Make the Rest of Your Life The Best of Your Life." I took the opportunity to quiz him on an urban legend I wanted to check out for my book. The story went that one of those innocent kids he interviewed on House Party blurted the darndest thing about his mom, that when dad was away, junior used to sleep im mom's bed--except when "Uncle" Steve slept over. Whoops.
It really happened, Linkletter confirmed. Kids say the darndest things.
I can't really think of anyone on TV like Linkletter today. (Tom Bergeron--maybe--has a hint of that everyman appeal.) He projected trust, optimism, confidence. He was America at mid century, before Dallas, before Vietnam, before Watergate. People are still funny, just not as sunny without the nice man in the grey suit.

Smile When You Call Eric Balfour a Showkiller

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--Eric Balfour brought it up. We were sitting in a union hall by a picturesque bay in Chester, N.S. Balfour (left), one of the stars of the new sci-fi drama Haven (coming this July to Showcase and Syfy), was talking about surfing. It was killing the California dude to be sitting in a boat out in the Atlantic, surrounded by water (he plays a devil-may-care ship captain), and not be paddling out to ride the big kahuna.
Balfour's co-stars, Emily Rose (a lovely Seattle girl who was on the final season of ER as Dr. Tracy Martin) and Lucas Bryant, a native of Elmira, Ont., who was on M.V.P. and played skier Ken Read in that Crazy Canucks movie, were conducting interviews at nearby tables. There was press here from various parts of Canada, including Vancouver, and all of us found Balfour, Rose and Bryant (below) as friendly as can be.
Anyway, I asked Balfour the old "Why TV, why now" question. He's been pretty active in films lately (including an indie he just shot in a prison in Guelph, Ont.). I wasn't trying to be sneaky.
The actor had something he needed to get off his chest. Basically, it pisses him off that some critics label him a showkiller.
Balfour has had some bad luck when it comes to TV series that get cancelled early. He's no Ted McGinley, or Paula Marshall, or Jason Gedrick. But he did get cast in such six week wonders as Hawaii, Sex Love and Secrets and Conviction.
Sure, says Balfour, but he didn't write those shows, or schedule them, he's just in 'em.
"I kept reading, 'Eric Balfour is a show killer,'" he says. "How can I be a showkiller? I didn’t write this show? I didn’t have anything to do with the fact that they put a show for young people on at 10 oclock at night…"
It's the reason he ducked the TV pilot scene for a few years, although he did say that after turning down quite a few, he didn't get one he really wanted. (Balfour didn't name the series.)
I let Balfour have his say in the story I filed today for The Canadian Press. Read the rest of the article here.
Sounds like it has all worked out well in any case. There's some good early buzz on Haven, with the crew volunteering that this cast is a dream to work with. The leads got a thumbs up from makeup specialist Stephen Lynch, whose opinion I trust. He's a fellow Michael Power alumni (his big sister, Kate, starred opposite Bill Murray in Meatballs and now directs at the Shaw Fest). Last time I saw Lynch--1975! Makeup!

CTV Picks Up Conan O'Brien in Canada

Team Coco is coming to Team CTV.
TVFMF has learned that the Canadian rights to Conan O'Brien's new TBS talk show, coming this November, have been acquired by the CTV Network.
Not known is which CTV property will get the show. O'Brien is scheduled to air at 11 p.m. Stateside, ruling out any kind of simulcast plan as part of the CTV schedule. The top-ranked CTV National News will not be moved from 11 p.m., and repeats of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report currently follow on the main network after midnight.
Daily and Colbert are top draws each night at 11 on CTV-owned The Comedy Network. The plan could be to follow those shows with the compatible Conan. Since TBS is not available on Canadian signal carriers, CTV couldn't simulcast it if it wanted to and is presumably free to place it anywhere. That might be nightly over at their /A\ channels--perhaps even in prime time. /A\ currently offers news nightly at 11 and Jay Leno's Tonight Show at 11:34. O'Brien won't bump either of those properties, but could--ironically given the big Leno at 10 kerfuffle last season --lead into them. CTV also owns MuchMusic and last week asked the CRTC to soften up its music content restrictions (less videos, more movies), so, who knows.
CTV would not confirm or deny the Conan pickup today. They officially announce their fall schedules June 3 in Toronto.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lost Finale Found on CTV

Lost pulled over 2 million viewers on CTV Sunday night, not bad after the Canadian rights holder treated it like a buried hatch for six years. You had to be a fan to find Lost on CTV, which over the years was jammed into a 7 p.m. slot, bounced over to sister station /A\ and just generally made tough to find. The two-and-a-half hour series finale drew 13.5 million on ABC according to preliminary Nielsen data.
Global drew 1.23 million opposite Lost Sunday with the finale of The Celebrity Apprentice. CBC, stuck with an afternoon Stanley Cup playoff game thanks to the NHL catering to its U.S. broadcaster, saw just 1,257,000 tune in for the Blackhawks-Sharks tilt Sunday. Saturday afternoon, CBC pulled 2,135,000 viewers for the Canadiens second last loss to the Flyers; a further 1,842,000 caught the game on RDS. Friday's episode of The Bridge on CTV drew its usual 880,000 according to overnight estimates.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Looks like it's just the two of us, Freckles"

I never watched Lost. I literally fell asleep trying to watch the pilot. When I woke up, it just seemed like Gilligan's Island meets Survivor. I knew if I somehow got hooked it could all add up to six years I'd never get back. So don't ask me if I thought the finale was any good--I was lost at the cottage.
Whether you got hooked or not, Jimmy Kimmel's alternate endings to Lost, above, is beyond brilliant. Nobody does these TV inside jokes better than Kimmel and his writers, who do more with seven minutes than SNL does with 90. Think of the amount of planning and scheduling that went into this and all hail Jimmy.

Bye Bye Bauer: 24 ends on May 24

You can tell Jack Bauer is Canadian, eh? Who else would "take off" on a May 24 weekend.
Kiefer Sutherland's deadly alter ego shoots his way into history tonight as 24 airs its two hour season finale (8 p.m., Fox and Global). Bauer may go down as the most ruthless good guy in TV history. The website 24wiki kept a running tally of Bauer's on-screen kills and after eight seasons, going into Monday night's finale, it stands at 266 victims. "Unwanted and inintentional kills are included for the sake of completeness" it says at the site. Tidy.
All together, 13,626 people were killed over the eight seasons of 24, including around 250 in that opening episode airplane explosion--a scene that aired less than two months after the real terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Bauer was a hot topic up north at the cottage this weekend, with Jimmy from Exeter, Ont., still loyal to Bauer and Co. He was heading back tonight to see the finale on the new plasma screen. Bauer gutting that Russian dude and yanking that microchip out of his entrails was still earning a tip of the cap from the boys up around the fishing islands.
The consensus, however, was Jack's exploits were getting a little ridiculous and that ending the series now was a good call. A movie script has been completed and there's no reason not to expect Bauer to make a Bond- or Bourne-style feature film impact.
The cast and crew celebrated the end of 24 at a series finale wrap party April 30 at Boulevard 3 in Los Angeles. Fox photographer Frank Micelotta was there and snapped these shots of Sutherland with the Canadian actress who played his doomed wife Teri (Leslie Hope) and the late great president Palmer (Dennis Haysbert). That first season shocker of an ending made 24 a must see show. Wacky Day One villainess Penny Johnson Jerald also made the scene along with Carlos Bernard (right). One great story about how tight the cast and crew all were on this series is this one: Bernard had just bought a house when he got his script that he was being killed off on 24. When the producers learned of his predicament, they kept his character alive another four or five episodes (and even brought him back to life a year or so later) so he could get a few extra payments together on the house.
A big reason so many Canadians were cast in 24 over the years is Jon Cassar (left at the finale bash with Kim Raver), the Ottawa-raised executive producer who also directed more episodes of 24 than anyone else. Cassar worked on 24 co-creator Joel Surnow's previous series, La Femme Nikita. That action hour was shot mainly in Mississuaga, Ont. If you check it out on IMDb, you'll see that many of the actors who worked Nikita found their way onto the 24 set. One who didn't was Nikita herself Peta Wilson--no accident according to those in the know, who wrote the blue-eyed blond off as a Class A nutjob. Two Canadians who worked the series recently became husband and wife. Carlo Rota (Chloe's ex-Morris O'Brian) had a nice long run (by 24 standards), sneaking into Day 5, sticking all of Day 6 and even getting in on Day 7. Rota's new bride, former Border guard Nazneen Contractor (above with Anil Kapoor and Necar Zadegan), worked 21 of this season's 24 episodes as the daughter of a Kapoor's Middle Eastern leader. I recently spoke with Rota and Contractor about their 24 duty and wrote about it for an article on Sunday's Toronto Star:

The couple note that 24 is a series much respected in the TV industry. A gig on that show is a ticket onto other Hollywood lots.
Rota does believe, however, that it was time to call it quits. “It will end in a good place,” he says. He credits Canadian-trained director/executive producer Jon Cassar — who he worked with in Canada with 24 co-creator Joel Surnow on La Femme Nikita — with running a tight ship and keeping the door to Canadian talent open. This past season, Canadian director/producer Brad Turner filled a similar role. “To create that show and to keep it going for eight seasons took a tremendous amount of effort,” says Rota. “I think it’s time to move on to features.”
Contractor agrees and credits Sutherland, also an executive producer, for setting the quality tone. “He really takes the reins on the set,” she says. “He wants to have fun but he’s also ridiculously charming and really concerned about our well being. I had a torture scene and he came up to me later to tell me how great it was. I was so spoiled and very happy to be there.”
Read the full Star story here.
As for Sutherland, TV critics will always have his back. Not because Fox kept sending us swag like the final FedEx goodie, a commmorative piece of CTU (mine looks like a floor tile; at least it wasn't part of that Russian guy's spleen). No, classy Sutherland earned our respect simply for showing up every press tour for all eight seasons to show the love. May he walk forever with a Canadian cigarette tucked behind each ear.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

This Week's Podcast: Behind the Upfront

Scott Thompson at Hamilton's CHML wanted to know all about the upfronts on this week's podcast. We talk about CBS's bold move switching Survivor out of Thursdays to make room for the Big Bang Theory. (A move that Survivor creator Mark Burnett is not too happy about, by the way.) Scott also wonders why Jim Belushi, William Shatner and Tom Selleck are coming back to series TV. Don't shoot the messenger! Scott is also disappointed to learn that Alex O'Loughlin has not teased his hair up into a giant surf for the remake of the classic '70s series Hawaii FIVE-O. His suggestion to play the part made famous by Jack Lord--Conan O'Brien. Excellent choice. You can listen in here while you stare at these pictures.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Canadian Nets on U.S. Show Buying Spree

Book 'em, Danno. That's what Global said when it came to buying the much buzzed Hawaii Five-O remake (starring Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan, above) as word starts to leak out on the annual Canadian TV buying spree south of the border.
Some industry watchers felt things would be less giddy this May after a year of downer "broken business model" talk, that Olympic hangover and the shame of spending roughly ten times as much on American fare as on creating Canadian production but we're hearing that there was no real financial re-set. Seems these Canadian show buyers just can't help themselves when they come that close to landing what could be the next American Idol.
UPDATED: TVFMF is hearing that CTV picked up a couple of shows starring famous Canadians, including the William Shatner CBS comedy S#*! My Dad Says plus the mid-season NBC comedy Mr. Sunshine starring Matthew Perry. CTV also bought Canadian rights to the new CW series Nikita. Rogers apparently threw a lot of cable loot around, grabbing among other shows Jerry Bruckheimer's new NBC drama Chase. That's the one about an elite squad tracking America's most wanted. Hey--sounds like it's about Canadian network show buyers!
The Canadian private networks make their picks official June 2nd and 3rd. More details to follow, check back for updates.

Fall Cut Down Clip: Hellcats

You can see the Glee influence in this high energy clip from the just announced CW fall series Hellcats. You can see it but you can't hear it. This is Glee for those who feel smart, edgy dialogue (or basically any dialogue) just gets in the way. "Shake it like you're from Memphis!"

The Upfronts: OMG!!! Skinny CW Chicks Rule!

Two new shows designed to boost the self esteem of young girls everywhere cracked the skinny CW schedule for 2010-11. Hellcats is a coming of age story (what else) about a pre-law stunner (Aly Michalka, left with Robbie Jones) who has to become a cheerleader to get her degree. Seriously. Eat your heart out, Sue Sylvester. "Give me an S! Give me a U! Give me an E! What does it spell? Louder!" At least she didn't drop her briefs to become a solicitor. Tom Welling, Superman from Smallville (back for a 45th season) is among the producers.
Nikita is about a deeply troubled teenager who is rescued by the CIA and turned into a dangerously thin, bikini-wearing spy. Maggie Q (right) stars and, yes, McG is among the producers, so this show is brought to you by the letters Q and G.
The summer series Plain Jane offers makeovers for young women not already starved and botoxed into CW drones. Shedding for the Wedding wins best new title award; the mid-season series is basically The Biggest Loser for brides-to-be.
The CW spared (or forget they still had) One Tree Hill, Life Unexpected and Supernatural. Melrose Place was put in its place.

8:00PM 90210 (New Night)

8:00PM ONE TREE HILL (New Night)




Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tonight: The Good Guys Sneak Onto Fox

The Good Guys jumps across the hood of the buddy cop curve Wednesday night at 8 p.m. The Fox cop show stars Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Colin Hanks (Roswell) as a pair of mis-matched detectives and will return in its regular Monday timeslot starting June 7. Fox is so high on it they've already made it part of their fall lineup before a single episode airs.
Whitford, complete with crazy porn 'stache, plays police legend Dan Stark, a cop from the Starsky & Hutch era who thinks DNA stands for "Disco Night in America." Hanks plays a colourless by-the-books officer who has already pissed off half the squad house.
The pilot works in that it quickly establishes these characters, not such a Herculean task given that they're about as subtle as Whitford's 'stache. Nia Vardalos makes a surprise and fun appearance as a crime victim/love interest for '70s sex machine Stark. Likable Tom Amandes from Everwood gets some face time as a good guy/bad guy.
The story has the boys stumbling on the trail of Russian assassins. Some great character actors, including Alex Fernandez, RonReaco Lee and Luis Antonio Ramos, all ad to the cops and robbers fun. The Good Guys has a bit of a "Quinn Martin" quality without wallowing in camp.
As I related in last Saturday's Starweek cover story, Whitford and Hanks already had their bored cops shtick down by the time the show was paneled at the January press tour:
Hanks says he was thrilled to get in on the comedy end of a script. He says he sees a lot of “straight-man” parts, “but I don’t really get to say anything funny.” Tired of always acting “exasperated and frustrated,” he was more than ready to joke back. “Since we’ve met,” he says of Whitford, “we haven’t stopped with the witty banter back and forth.”
“We just don’t share it with anyone else,” says Whitford, who feels, at 50--and with that silly moustache--he’s ready to play a grizzled cop like Dan Stark. “One thing I do share with this character is I think I have a bright future behind me,” he jokes. “I think I peaked, you know, professionally and biologically, in another decade.”
TV fans with long memories may recall another show called The Good Guys. That late '60s sitcom starred Bob Denver (Gilligan's Island) and bald headed character actor Herb Edelman (who years later turned up as a semi regular on Golden Girls) and was about a taxi driver and a diner owner. The two were childhood friends and hilarity (occasionally) ensued. The slapstick comedy lasted a season-and-a-half; the new Good Guys has a decent shot at topping that run.
I'm not positive, and he's not around to check with anymore, but I'm going to guess that's a Gene Trindl photograph of Denver and Edelman on the cover of TV Guide (above). Who ever shot it, they perfectly captured the personalities of the two lead characters as well as the essense of the series in a single gag shot. Interesting to see how the Fox PR people pulled a similar trick with Hanks and Whitford (top of the column).

The Upfronts: CBS Moves Survivor, Big Bang

The big news out of Wednesday morning's CBS upfront announcement wasn't so much about the five fall shows as the time slot changes. Survivor, Thursdays at 10 for a decade, moves to Wednesday nights. The Big Bang Theory slides over to Thursdays to anchor a new night of comedy. CSI: NY moves to Fridays and CSI: Miami moves to Sundays. Could there be more headaches for the Canadian networks who try to simulcast these shows?
As for the new shows, most seem very familiar thanks to the casting. CBS is bringing back William Shatner, Jim Belushi, Tom Selleck...what is this, fall 1985? Jerry O'Connell, Donnie Whalberg and Alex O'Loughlin, are back, too. A spin off of Criminal Minds starring Forest Whitaker has been ordered for mid-season, but here are the CBS fall five:
S#*! My Dad Says: Wonder how many meetings CBS had before they settled on #*! to cover up "hit." Do you want to cover up a hit? Shat My Dad Says would have been funnier. The Twitter feed-inspired comedy stars Shatner as a dad who boldly goes about giving his outrageous opinions. One son is being recast, but Canadian Will Sasso and his former MadTV co-star Nicole Sullivan are both in S#*!.
Mike & Molly. CBS comedy kingpin Chuck Lorre is behind this series about a couple of tubbies who meet and fall in love at an over eaters anonymous meeting. Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy star.
Hawaii 5-0 (top photo). David Shore's remake of The Rockford Files didn't make the cut at NBC but CBS did pick up this remake of the '7os surf cop classic and early word from those that have seen it is that it is smokin' hot. O'Loughlin (who makes no attempt to tease his hair up into a giant surf curl) as McGarrett, Scott Cann as "Danno" and ANOTHER Canadian, Grace Park, as a beautiful rookie cop.
The Defenders. Jim Belushi (yes, Dana, Jim Belushi) and Jerry O'Connell team as a pair of Vegas lawyers. From CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn.
Blue Bloods. An NYPD saga with Selleck as a police chief and head of a proud family and Whalberg (right with Selleck) as his detective son.
CBS ditched Cold Case, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, Accidentally On Purpose and Miami Medical and they still didn't schedule The Bridge. Here's CBS's 2010-11 schedule:

9:30-10:00 PM MIKE & MOLLY
10:00-11:00 PM HAWAII FIVE-O

8:00-9:00 PM NCIS
10:00-11:00 PM THE GOOD WIFE

8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR (NT)
10:00-11:00 PM THE DEFENDERS (above)
8:30-9:00 PM $#*! MY DAD SAYS
10:00-11:00 PM THE MENTALIST

8:00-9:00 PM MEDIUM (NT)
9:00-10:00 PM CSI: NY (NT)
10:00-11:00 PM BLUE BLOODS

10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY

7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: MIAMI (NT)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Upfronts: ABC is All 'Bout Canadians

ABC stands for “Airlift a Bunch of Canadians” as news of their Fall 2010-11 schedule becomes official Tuesday. Several Canucks, including Shaun Majumder (22 Minutes), Matthew Perry (Friends), Elisha Cuthbert (24), Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls) and Jennifer Finnigan (Close to Home) have landed key roles on new ABC series. They join Will Arnett (Fox's Running Wilde), Nazneen Contractor (NBC's The Paul Reiser Show) and Sarah Chalke (CBS's Team Spitz) and William Shatner (CBS's Sh*t My Dad Says) as Canadians who are coming to U.S. TV in 2010-11.
ABC has an aggressive new schedule, ditching several shows on the bubble and ordering 10 new series. Gone are Flash Forward, Ugly Betty, Better Off Ted and a bunch of other stiffs you’ll never miss. Three cheers to the nets for cleaning house this season, it was time for the big broom.
The new ABC dramas include yet another new cop show. Newfoundland-native Majumder (above), who guested earlier this season as a prison punk on Republic of Doyle, sticks with drama in Detroit 1-8-7. The series is shot like Cops out of Detroit, with viewers along for a ride down America’s most dangerous streets. Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Jon Michael Hill and James McDaniels (NYPD Blue) are in on the action. And you thought Majumder got sweaty as Raj Binder!
There was some talk ABC might sked Perry’s new comedy back-to-back with former Friends friend Courteney Cox’s renewed Cougar Town, but ABC decided that pairing was a little too cute. Perry, who co-wrote the pilot, stars in the mid-season ABC comedy Mr Sunshine. He’ll play a San Diego sports store owner going through a mid-life crisis. His West Wing pal Allison Janey also stars.
When a couple splits, who gets to keep the friends? That’s the premise behind Happy Endings, the new mid-season ABC comedy starring Cuthbert (above). Danger girl from 24 has certainly grown up from those early PMK for Kids days. Dhavernas (below), so winning in the little-seen Niagara gem Wonderfalls, has landed in Off The Map. That’s yet another medical drama from ABC prime time soap queen Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice). Dhavernaz has the lead role of an idealistic young doc saving lives in the South American jungle.
The new Modern Family clone Better Together stars Montreal-native Finnigan is a story of couples and parents and hilarity ensues.
Also new to ABC will be Body of Proof, starring TCA crush Dana Delany as a crusading medical examiner. Jeri Ryan adds to the MiLF appeal. Shot documentary style, My Generation revisits an Austin, TX, grad class ten years later to see how it all turned out. Ten years? What, the show is shot in their parent’s basements? No Ordinary Family finds Michael Chiklis (The Shield) back on broadcast as the head of a family who discover, after a plane crash, that they have super powers. Cool.
Busy Jerry Bruckheimer is behind the new legal drama The Whole Truth. Rob Morrow (Numb3rs) stars is a show where cases will be made for both the defense and the prosecution.
ABC has also picked up a Fox reality reject, Secret Millionaire. They’ve renewed Brothers & Sisters, but cut back on the number of episodes to make room for Off The Map Sundays in mid-season. V will also be back but will be held until November or so and then given an uninterrupted run.
There's word that CBS (officially announcing tomorrow) has ditched Julia Louis-Dreyfus' The New Adventures of Old Christine, and that ABC might want to scoop it, but it hasn't happened yet.
Macho ABC programming boss Stephen McPherson gives advertisers their first look at the 10 new ABC shows Tuesday afternoon at New York's Lincoln Center. Jimmy Kimmel usually works this room and kills, we'll have vid up ASAP. Here’s ABC’s Fall schedule:

8:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars
10:00 p.m. Castle

8:00 p.m. No Ordinary Family
9:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars the Results Show
10:00 p.m. Detroit 1-8-7
8:00 p.m. The Middle
8:30 p.m. Better Together
9:00 p.m. Modern Family
9:30 p.m. Cougar Town
10:00 p.m. The Whole Truth

8:00 p.m. My Generation
9:00 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy
10:00 p.m. Private Practice

8:00 p.m. Secret Millionaire
9:00 p.m. Body of Proof
10:00 p.m. 20/20

8:00 p.m. Saturday Night College Football

7:00 p.m. America’s Funniest Home Videos
8:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00 p.m. Brothers & Sisters

Fall Cut Down Clip: Fox's Ride-along

Shawn Ryan (The Shield) is behind Ride-along, a gritty new Fox police drama scheduled for mid-season (early 2011). Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) plays older, cynical cop and Matt Lauria (Friday Night Lights) the by-the-book new guy in this clip from the Chicago-based drama.

Fall Cut Down Clip: Fox's Running Wilde

He's a wealthy Beverly Hills oil prince. She's a crusading environmentalist. Can two former high school sweeties bridge a world of difference to reignite an old flame? Will Arnett and Keri Russell star in Running Wilde, a new comedy from Arrested Development creator Mitchel Hurwitz announced Monday as part of the 2010-11 Fox schedule.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Survivor Finale: Outplay, Outlast, Outdraw

Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains drew an overnight, estimated 2.9 million viewers across Canada to Global Sunday night according to preliminary data from BBM Canada. The finale was up against a busy night of sports with the first game of the Stanley Cup semi-finals—featuring the Cinderella Montreal Canadiens vs. the equally charmed Philadelphia Flyers—scoring close to 2.8 million the same night on CBC.
Add the 1.8 million who cheered on the Canadiens on RDS in Quebec and 4.6 million watched the hockey game in Canada Sunday night. Earlier that afternoon, TSN’s opening Chicago Blackhawks/San Jose Sharks tilt drew 1,225,000 on TSN.
Almost all of Global’s Survivor audience stuck around for the frisky post-series bitchfest at 10 p.m. (2,710,000).
All of which bumped the season finale of Desperate Housewives down to 1,672,000 on CTV Sunday night. Meanwhile, CTV’s The Bridge, which has its season finale on the 21st, drew an overnight estimated 848,000 viewers Friday night.
In the U.S., Survivor won its timeslot on CBS Sunday night, averaging over 13 million viewers in the Neilsen overnights and enjoying a 27% jump over the May 2009 finale audience measure.
UPFRONT UPDATE: ABC officially announces their 2010-11 lineup Tuesday afternoon in New York, with the CBS upfront scheduled for Wednesday. The CW announcement comes Thursday afternoon.

The Upfronts: NBC Gets Outsourced

UPDATE: For a play-by-play of Monday's NBC upfront event in New York, including gags from the likes of Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Fallon and famed yuckster Jeff Gaspin, go here. And go here for Alan Sepinwall's eye witness HitFix account of the NBC and Fox upfront marathon.
Remember NBC? They used to be a TV network. It appears they're still around and with Comcast waiting to move into 30 Rock, the pressure's on to get this sucker back up on its hind legs and back into "Must See" territory.
Hoping they're on their way today is Nazneen Contractor. The India-born, Toronto-raised actress (above) has landed a role on one of 14 new series (eight starting this fall) NBC officially announced today as part of their 2010-11 lineup: The Paul Reiser Show. The mid-season sitcom finds the former Mad About You star and producer in Larry David territory in a semi-autobiographical saga with Curb appeal. Contractor, who co-starred for two seasons on CBC's The Border before trying to keep up with Jack Bauer this season on 24, plays Reiner's agent on the new comedy.
I spoke with Contractor Friday and she said Reiser was a dream to work with. The actress has had a busy spring: she got married to Carlos Rota (Little Mosque, 24) in April and had to shoot her final scenes on 24 a few days later. The new couple were just in Hamilton finishing up the sword and sandals epic My Little Pegasus or something.
NBC, like Fox, sees a comedy comeback and has ordered five, including two for fall: Outsourced stars Dietrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) as a Kansas City customer service manager sent to India to train some reps. Love Bites puts a new spin on the old anthology series Love, American Style with tales of dating and other "hilarious" couples hi jinx. Greg Grunberg (Heroes), this generation's Stuart Margolin, has landed a regular role on the series. Friends With Benefits (above left) and Perfect Couples are two horny comedies booked for mid-season.
On the new drama side, the network that dumped Conan O'Brien has officially ordered a series he's producing. Outlaw finds always welcome Jimmy Smits (right) as a Supreme Court judge who quits to become an ass-kicking defender of the little guy. The Jerry Bruckheimer drama Chase is about a swat team of U.S. marshals who hunt down the deadliest baddies. The Event finds Jason Ritter stumbling upon the biggest cover up in U.S. history.
As previously reported, the original Law & Order is out after 20 years and a new Dick Wolf court drama, Law & Order: Los Angeles, is in. Undercovers, from red hot J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) is a Mr. and Mrs Spy series about a CIA couple.
David E. Kelley is behind one of the two midseason drama pickups. Harry's Law features Kathy Bates as a grumpy ex-patent lawyer teamed with a couple of misfits. The Cape is about an ex-cop turned caped crusader.
There's also a couple of cheap ass non-scripted pickups.
After the Leno at 10 fiasco, NBC has done an about face, teaming with A-List show creators like Bruckheimer, Abrams and Kelley.
The Peacock network has also picked up a fourth season of Chuck and is sticking with Community. Parks and Recreation will be back but not till mid-season. Heroes, Mercy and Trauma are all kaput. Here's NBC's fall schedule at a glance:

8:00 p.m. Chuck
9:00 p.m. THE EVENT
10:00 p.m. CHASE

8:00 p.m. The Biggest Loser (two hours)
10:00 p.m. Parenthood

9:00 p.m. Law & Order: SVU (new time)

8:00 p.m. Community
8:30 p.m. 30 Rock (new time)
9:00 p.m. The Office
9:30 p.m. OUTSOURCED (above)
10:00 p.m. LOVE BITES

8:00 p.m. Who Do You Think You Are? / SCHOOL PRIDE
9:00 p.m. Dateline
10:00 p.m. OUTLAW

8:00 p.m. Encore programming
9:00 p.m. Encore programming
10:00 p.m. Encore programming

7:00 p.m. Football Night in America
8:15 p.m. Sunday Night Football

The Upfronts: Fox Goes Wilde for Arnett

This week is upfront week in New York, with the U.S. broadcast networks announcing their selections for fall. Fox went first this morning and the network hopes to continue spreading Glee next season. In a conference call with critics this morning, Fox chairman Peter Rice and programming president Kevin Reilly announced they'll platform Glee--the No. 1 new show this season--right after the Super Bowl. (A fumble for CTV, which can't cross promote the Canadian simulcast since Global's got Glee.) They also say Glee and the success of ABC's Modern Family indicate a strong shift toward comedy and they ordered their development accordingly.
Fox has ordered four new comedies, including Running Wilde (which shot its pilot on Vancouver). Toronto lad Will Arnett re-teams with Arrested Development genius Mitch Hurwitz on the series, described as a romantic comedy.
Reilly called landing Keri Russell (above with Arnett) for the lead opposite Arnett "the coup of the year" (several other shows and networks were after her). And while Arnett delivers on the kind of character his fans have come to expect (i.e. a total dick head), look for this show to be "empathetic at its core," suggested Reilly.
One critic asked if Fox felt any unease getting back in bed with Hurwitz, a brilliant writer who apparently was a last minute man when it came to handing in AR episodes. Reilly (left with House star Hugh Laurie at Monday's upfront in New York) countered that he always did his term papers the night before no matter how many months he was given and he finds creative types in Hollywood are no different. "I will always take inspiration over efficiency," says Reilly, who has (and has earned) a bit of that old-fashioned network-head swagger.
Fox expects to win the year among 18-49-year-olds for the sixth consecutive season--a record according to their execs. They got there largely due to American Idol. Yes, that show has slipped 9% in the ratings so far this year, says Rice, but it is still No. 1 and they expect it to stay No. 1 even after the departure of Simon Cowell when the season wraps in two weeks. No announcement on the next Simon--that will likely come at the summer press tour--but Reilly did announce that the show will feature 90-minute performance episodes and half hour result shows next season. Auditions begin in September.
Fox's other new comedies are Raising Hope (left), an eccentric, blue collar family sitcom featuring Cloris Leachman in the ensemble. (Good thing she landed this before Betty White did SNL.) It hails from the dude behind My Name is Earl. Fox plans to move Glee to 8 on Tuesdays to create a comedy night and boost the chances of both Running Wilde and Raising Hope.
Mixed Signals, about couples who screw around, is a mid-season comedy pickup. Reilly says it boasts the writers from Wedding Crashers. They had writers on Wedding Crashers?. A new animated comedy, Bob's Burgers, will join the Sunday sked come mid-season.
New scripted dramas include Lonestar, a Dallas-like soap with Jon Voight and David Keith among the cast. (The photo above, featuring Adrianne Palicki, James Wolk and Eloise Mumford, suggests there also may have a whiff of that CBC flop, Wild Roses.) Ryan Murphy, creator of The Shield, brings a new Chicago-based cop show to the network. Ride-along stars Jason Clarke, Jennifer Beals and Delroy Lindo.
Reilly was also excited about a big epic drama featuring dinosaurs and rocket ships called Terra Nova. Some guy named Spielberg (left) is behind it. It'll be crammed with special effects and make Avatar look like In Treatment. No start date, with Reilly giving the show runners time to budget this epic.
Fox also announced it had saved Human Target and will pair it with a summer show that has yet to air: The Good Guys. The retro-ish cop series, which has a sneak peak Wednesday and stars Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks, has the same kind of '70s detective show vibe as CBC's Republic of Doyle. Reilly has seen future episodes and likes what he sees. The two shows will run Friday nights.
Gone, of course, is 24, bowing out after eight seasons at the end of the month. Brampton-native Tyler Labine's Sons of Tuscon is also toast. Wanda Sykes sounds done in late night.
Fringe is back, as is Lie to Me. Here's the Fox Fall schedule below:

8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM LONESTAR (new)

8:00-9:00 PM GLEE
9:00-9:30 PM RAISING HOPE (new)
9:30-10:00 PM RUNNING WILDE (new)

8:00-9:00 PM LIE TO ME
9:00-10:00 PM HELL’S KITCHEN

8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

9:00-10:00 PM THE GOOD GUYS

8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS

7:00-8:00 PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

Fox's second season always kicks off in January with the return of American Idol. Here's where the new shows will fit in. Note Glee moves to Wednesdays after Idol:

8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM LONESTAR (new) / RIDE-ALONG (above)

8:00-9:30 PM AMERICAN IDOL Performance Show
9:30-10:00 PM RUNNING WILDE (new) / MIXED SIGNALS (new; spring)

8:00-8:30 PM RAISING HOPE (new)
8:30-9:00 PM AMERICAN IDOL Results Show
9:00-10:00 PM GLEE

8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE


8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS

7:00-7:30 PM THE SIMPSONS (encores)
8:30-9:00 PM BOB’S BURGERS (new)
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY

Survivor 20 Finale: Money Player Sandra Wins

Sandra is the Jay Leno of Survivor. She flies under the radar because everyone makes the dangerous mistake of underestimating her. But she’s a true street fighter, and when cornered, finds a way to emerge on top. As she said, while her husband goes off to war, she goes off to make money on Survivor. Not winning is not an option.
Underestimating Sandra happened again Sunday night on the conclusion of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. So mediocre on the challenges, blunt and confrontational on the social front, Sandra still stole this game at the finish line from smug bully Russell—so unpopular he drew not a single vote—and shrewd princess Parvati.
The two players who schemed and manipulated their way to the finish line could not defeat the player who arrived there on their coattails. As one juror mentioned, Russell and Parvati were like a dysfunctional married couple. The nine member jury voted for someone who was weaker at the game in all aspects except one: There was less B.S. about Sandra. You might not like her, but you generally knew where she stood. You can lie and back stab your way to the final, but all that B.S. does catch up with you when it comes right down to who gets the million bucks.
Sandra might also have been the most cunning on vote days, planting seeds, raising suspicions about others, throwing front runners off their game. She could have been tossed in the first few weeks but did what real politicians do to get elected--ran negative campaigns against others then kept her mouth shut and voted strategically.
The extreme competitiveness of the final three was evident in the spirited after show. Russell (right) came off as a sore loser, suggesting Sandra’s two wins indicates that there is a flaw in the game. He refused to acknowledge that his complete lack of social skills sabotaged any chance he had of winning. He was somewhat vindicated when Probst announced Russell had won an on-line poll and a $100,000 consolation prize. (Again, Villain triumphs over Hero with Rupert the bonus prize runner-up).
Fact is, Russell made this game. Week in and week out, he was the straw that stirred the drink. His incredible hubris propelled the game forward and also blinded him to the fact that he was jury repellent. He was, in fact, the incredibly unpopular player that all the others wanted to sit next to at the final vote.
As Tom said in the after show, the one who wins Survivor deserves to win. All props to Sandra, the soldier’s wife who flew under the radar for long stretches of this series. But if she’s not sitting next to Russell at the end, she’s just another villain who already has a million. He’s such a tool he makes her look like a Hero.
The other winner Sunday was Jerri, who finished fourth but, as she observed in the after show, may have gained the most in terms of an image makeover. She truly had gone from someone nobody wanted in the final four because she was so hated to somebody nobody wanted to sit next to at the end because she was so inoffensive she could have won.
Parvati earns props, too, for her steel-willed competitiveness in the immunity challenges. There’s no denying she came to play and had her game face on. That she expected to win and didn’t was enormously satisfying for those of us who saw her all along as an ultra-competitive little princess bitch.
This game also had plenty of cartoon characters, from that Obi-wannabe Coach (one can only hope that “King Arthur’s journey has ended”) to dumbass letter writer J.T., a true boob for the ages. Like the old Warner Bros. cartoons, I kept expecting J.T.’s face to dissolve into a cartoon of a giant sucker.
Petulant Russell--who looked like he lost a tooth in that recent bar fight--ranted about opening the vote up to America but, as Probst pointed out, that’s not this game. It is all about the players on the island and how you are judged by your peers. It all comes down to you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. The worst thing you can do, in fact, is outplay, outwit and outlast. The smartest thing to do is sit next to that person at the final vote, and make sure you stabbed five less people in the back.
NEXT SEASON: It is off to Nicaragua, Central America, for more rain forests and wee beasties. You'd think by the 21st edition of this series executive producer Mark Burnett could convince CBS to take a chance and bring this damn show to Yellowknife. (Survivor: Ice Pilots NWT?) Burnett says he'd love to do a winter edition in Canada but it will never happen as long as fabulous women like Amber (left) wear bikinis. Hard to argue with that.

Denette Wilford (TV Guide Canada): "But just like in Samoa , Russell made it to the final three and brought two people to the finals he figured, in his pompous pea head, he’d have no trouble beating. Loved the looks of shock — SHOCK! — that the jury didn’t hand him the grand prize. Well, Russ you definitely didn’t deserve to win, but after breaking it all down, either did Sandra. Parvati did." Read the rest of Wilford's final recap here.

Michael Bolen (The National Post): "In a way, Russ is right — the game is flawed. The show’s motto may be Outwit, Outplay and Outlast but it is those who Out-bore, Out-lose and Outlast that have been taking home the final prize. Sandra may be correct to assert that weakness in challenges and flying under the radar can be a very competitive strategy, but it isn’t one that inspires and excites the viewer. Even for those who justifiably turned against Russell, or became fatigued with his endless boasting, Sandra beating Parvati must have stimulated audible groans." Read the rest of Bolen's recap here.

Kat Angus ( "After two straight seasons of playing Survivor, Russell still doesn’t get it. He thinks the game is flawed simply because he can’t win, proving that he willfully ignores how this show works. Survivor is never the same game twice, because by its very nature, the players are the game; by refusing to figure out how they work, Russell has refused to learn the rules of Survivor. I may not have had the satisfaction of seeing the little man get voted out, but watching his face as he received zero votes at the end was a pretty good consolation prize." Follow the rest of Angus' latest recap here.