Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony Curtis: 1925-2010

Over the years I’ve spent covering television I’ve only met a few genuine movie stars. One was Tony Curtis, who died Wednesday in Hollywood at 85.
First time I met the man was way back in 1986, on one of my first TCA press tours. Curtis was at the Century Plaza hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., promoting his appearance in the TV-movie Mafia Princess. Susan Lucci was also in the shot-in-Ontario film, as was Chuck Shamata as “Fat Louie.”
I remember being surprised at the session at what seemed like a rather obvious white wig on top of Curtis’ noggin. It must take a ton of self esteem to get away with a hairpiece like that, I thought.
I also remember that Curtis was tremendously charming during the session, very positive and engaging. So much so that I went up to him afterwards, shook his hand and told him what a terrific impression he had made.
Many, many years later, summer of 2008. Curtis is back at press tour, this time the Beverly Hilton hotel, as a guest of Turner Classic Movies. The man had aged after a near fatal bout with pneumonia and while still alert and expressive was pretty much confined to a wheelchair. A large white cowboy hat has mercifully replaced the crazy Rip Taylor wig atop his now completely bald head. He no longer looked like Tony Curtis, movie star, but more like Bernie Schwartz, the Hungarian Jew who fought his way out of Brooklyn to become a Hollywood prince.
At his side, helping him navigate the party was his sixth wife Jill Vandenberg, a six foot blonde 42 years his junior and who involved the screen legend in his final years in her campaign to save abused horses.
I introduced myself to Curtis, told him I had a 16mm print of one of his more obscure films, "Forty Pound of Trouble" and asked his memories of making that film.
Curtis spoke with the efficiency of someone who has escaped death and doesn't want to waste time with small talk. He remembered his young co-star Suzanne Pleschette. "Cute kid. Married at the time though." He remembered director Norman Jewison. "I gave him his start." Her sort of remembered running around Disneyland in the film's zany chase scene. "Walt himself gave us permission."
(True, Jewison told me a few weeks ago when I ran into him at TIFF. But Universal had to pay the savvy studio chief for the pleasure of promoting his theme park. Jewison says Disney took a cheque for $50,000 before signing off on the deal.)
I was going to ask about Mafia Princess, but at this point I could tell I was just pissing Curtis off. He came ready with stories about Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Some Like it Hot. If I wanted to know about some forgotten, 50 year old film, I was going to have to buy his autobiography.
Which I did, when "Hollywood Prince" came out that fall. Great read if you want to know the names of every actress Curtis had sex with.
My favourite memory of Curtis, however, was the last time I saw him, by chance, in Montreal. It was just a month after that TCM press tour party.
I’m in Montreal helping my daughter move into residence at university. It’s the week of the annual Montreal Film Festival and they’re showing “Some Like it Hot” outdoors on a giant screen by a downtown mall.
There’s a poster in the mall promoting Curtis’ appearance there the next day for the film fest. I return with my son Daniel, then 15, who has sat through countless screenings of “Forty Pounds of Trouble.” Curtis’ appearance the next day at the fest was sweet and touching--a real star turn. I wrote about it at the time in an earlier post, but here's Curtis' grand entrance:
About 50 or 60 people, press and citizens, mainly older folks, had gathered in front of the Festival platform where Curtis was to appear. As he emerged with a small party from an elevator, he came rolling up from behind and made a B-line to two older fans who had parked their wheelchairs at the back of the session. Curtis shook their hands, made a fuss over them, posed for photos and just generally bonded with his wheel buddies at the back. It was one of the most touching, classiest, sweetest acts I've ever witnessed in decades of chasing stars. It was a real mensch moment.
Curtis' death comes the day before a TV milestone with a Curtis connection. Cartoon fans will recall his star turn as Stoney Curtis on The Flintstones, which launched in prime time 50 years ago today, Sept. 30, 1960. There was nothing in his autobiography about affairs with Wilma or Betty. He may have been saving that for a later book.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Britney Boosts Global's Glee to Tuesday win

Glee boss Ryan Murphy between Britney and Brittany
Glee emerged as the big Week Two winner in Tuesday’s Canadian TV ratings. The Fox phenom, which featured much music Tuesday night from Britney Spears, pulled an overnight, estimated 2,384,000 viewers at 8 p.m.
CTV, as it aggressively declared in today’s press release, didn’t do bad opposite Glee with the premiere of the new ABC series No Ordinary Hero. The Michael Chiklis starrer opened with 2,074,000 viewers. Global also won the 18-49 face off, by close to a half million viewers in the demo. CTV, on the other hand, says No Ordinary Family is the No. 1 new show in the A18-34 demo.
Rick Mercer seeing nothing but heat opposite Glee
CBC got squeezed in the private network pinch, with the Rick Mercer Report dropping down below 900,000 in Week Two according to overnight estimates. 22 Minutes also took a hit, getting 568,000. Citytv’s two hour The Biggest Loser was reduced to 587,000 viewers from 8-10 p.m..
Things were no less competitive at 9, with CTV’s Dancing with the Stars (2,052,000) shading Global’s NCIS: Los Angeles (1,941,000) in the 2+ estimates. The results were flipped in the 18-49 tally, with Global enjoying 134,000 viewer advantage.
CBC’s Being Erica fell shy of the half million mark for the second week, limping in at 464,000 and fourth in the timeslot.
At 10, Law & Order: SVU on CTV (not quite 1.7 mil) bested the not-so-steamy return of The Good Wife on Global (1.33) in 2+ and demos. While Boomers love it, Good Wife is one of the oldest skewing hours on U.S. network television. Citytv’s Parenthood topped 400,000.
Sports was not a huge factor Tuesday night with TSN scoring around 400,000 for a couple of pre-season hockey games.
Stroumboulopoulos My Dad Says did 176,000 Tuesday night at 11:05 on CBC.

CTV quick to brag about Week Two numbers

It didn’t take long for the old arrogance to seep back into the CTV ratings releases. “Wipe Out! CTV Wins Monday” crowed the latest. “Castle drowns Hawaii FIVE-0 with 1.8 million viewers.”
All the networks have been spinning the numbers like crazy in the past week and a half. CTV certainly has plenty to crow about, especially 2+ nationally. Monday saw them top House and Hawaii FIVE-0 in 2+ national overnight estimates, a reverse of Fall Launch week’s results seven days earlier.
Castle (starring likable Canucks Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, right) is probably the biggest surprise so far, drawing over 1.8 million in overnight estimates opposite Hawaii FIVE-0’s 1.7 million plus. CTV’s release Tuesday stated Castle also won the night “in the much coveted A18-34 demo.” Left out of the CTV release was that Global easily won with House and Hawaii in the even more coveted 18-49 demo.
The 2+ score at 8 p.m. Monday had CTV’s Dancing with the Stars waltzing past House with an overnight, estimated 2.35 million viewers to 2.26 mil. Again, results where flipped 18-49, with House way ahead of Dancing in the demo.
CTV continues to kick ass at 7:30 with their Big Bang Theory strip, which exploded to almost 1.5 million viewers Monday. That is putting a dent on CBC’s Jeopardy! totals, beating the quiz show by over half a million viewers in the demo.
CBC took Monday off with the movie Away From Her, which drew BBM (Below the Brampton Mark) 402,000 viewers. Next week, CBC’s Battle of the Blades results show gets back into the Monday night mix.
Global’s second and final episode of Lone Star shed half its opening audience to fall below a half million viewers Monday. Next week, Fox and Global will slide Lie to Me into that timeslot.
Two and a Half Men opened big on /A\ with 1,065,000 viewers. New comedy Mike & Molly also carried weight, scoring 750,000 on the /A\ channels.
City was right in the race at 9 p.m. with their NBC pickup The Event, which drew over a million viewers. How I Met Your Mother (663,000) was a factor at 8, with newcomer Chase gaining an overnight, estimated 435,000 at 10.
TSN also scored Monday with 847,000 checking out Monday Night Football.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lone Star flames out as season's first dud

One man, two wives. The good news: he saved on insurance
There's plenty of whining on the Internet today about Fox making Lone Star the first cancellation of the season. Some are saying it is being punished for being different or being a serial drama or not having a big name lead. That everything else new this season is just derivative and boring. Left out of the discussion, it seems to me, is that it is a really dumb idea for a TV show.
This dude is a con artist. He's pretending to be married to a hot blonde, and also has this double life with this equally hot brunette. His con artist daddy says run the scam, steal the money, don't fall for the fake life. The dude says he loves both women and he's gonna keep on running between two homes. The daddy dude he fake works for says he can spot a phony and he has his eye on him.
An OK movie premise, I guess, but this thing was supposed to run five years?? Lone Star never passed the what's the next episode sniff test, in my opinion.
The show had an enormous problem even the programming geniuses at Fox should have recognized. Men wouldn't watch it because he's getting away with what we all want and he's making us all look like two timing weasels. Women won't watch it because he's a two-timing weasel. That doesn't leave many viewers.
That it was too good for today's TV market is ridiculous. Viewers have never been more sophisticated. If you're going to bring a cable premise, bring it to cable. Watered down Californication just leads to Swing TownLone Star wasn't even Knots Landing meets Sister Wives.
This thing started small and shed viewers like crazy minute-by-minute. In other words, the few that did sample it didn't like it. There's no way you bring this thing back in episode four, five or seven. It is D.O.A. Next.

Will CBS's The Good Wife make history tonight?

Wondering what's going down on The Good Wife this season? Julianna Margulies for one. At least that's how it looked when I got a sneak peak at the racy opening scene during a visit last month to the Brooklyn, N.Y. set.
We'll find out if the provocative opener made the cut when the series returns tonight at 10 p.m. on CBS and Global. Margulies was pretty defensive about the move her character makes on co-star Chris "Mr. Big" Noth in the scene shown to a gathering of mostly New York critics last month in New York. "I think that is the first time network television has had an oral sex scene. No?" she asked the reporter. (The scene, of course, was not explicit.) The clumsy follow up question--"have you researched that Julianna?" was taken the wrong way. You might say Margulies blew it out of proportion.
Veteran Associated Press TV columnist David Bauder wanted to know if Margulies knew for sure a sexual taboo had been broken. Margulies took it as the kind of saucy follow up a scribe might fling at "Snookie" from Jersey Shore and was suitably outraged. Things got straightened out and order was restored in the courtroom.
Bottom line, The Good Wife is not going to turn into HBO after dark next season, but viewers will be in for more passion from the reunited leads.
How reunited? As Noth dryly noted of the couple's brittle marriage, "I don't think the stitches are out yet of the wound that never heals, but leaves a scar."
More may have been at play with all this moral outrage at the press conference. CBS showed the clip, put the cast in front of reporters and let nature take its course. Margulies indignation got big play in the New York newspapers, especially The Post, which ran the headline, "Below the belt: Star gets hot & bothered about sex scene that'll make history."
CBS would love to lower the median age of the audience of The Good Wife, network TV's oldest-skewing drama. While the series was a winner for CBS last season, the median age of the audience--58--is well outside the demo advertisers most like to reach.
So getting The Good Wife to go down would make CBS happy.

Premiering tonight: No Ordinary Family

Thought all the new shows had premiered already? A few more trickle in over this second week of the official Fall season, including this out-of-the-ordinary little hour from ABC:

No Ordinary Family (8 p.m., ABC and CTV)
Ever take a family vacation and come back feeling super? The Powells did. Dad Jim (Michael Chiklis from The Shield), mom Stephanie (Dexter’s Julie Benz), and kids Daphnie and JJ (Kay Panabaker and Jimmy Bennett) can stop bullets, leap tall buildings and figure out math problems, all from just surviving a crash landing in the jungle.
But can they outrun the lawyers from The Incredibles? No matter. This live action cartoon clone is more fun than Heroes and is super just by being different—no ordinary feat this season.
Lone Star was also different, but may have turned off viewers with an unsympathetic premise (the lead was a con artist and, worse, a two-timing cheat). No Ordinary Family seems like a much more positive show, about a family fighting to stay together. Plus, c'mon, the superhero stuff is cool.
This gang will need their superpowers, though--they go up against red hot Glee (tonight featuring Britney Spears) in the timeslot.
Chiklis, who got all bricked up for a couple of Fantastic Four films, told critics at press tour that he doesn't really think of this as a sci-fi show. “Yes, there are elements of the superhero thing, but what we’re trying to do is meld different genres together and make a new thing.” He also doesn't see it as a rip-off of anything else. “This isn’t Heroes, “ he told critics. “It isn’t The Incredibles. This is No Ordinary Family.”

50 Years Later: the Kennedy-Nixon Debates

There was a pretty significant TV anniversary over the weekend--50 years since the Kennedy-Nixon Presidential Debates. They were billed as "The Great Debates" when the first of four aired over three U.S. networks on Sept. 26, 1960.
They were the first televised presidential debates and the opener is generally considered to have boosted then senator John F. Kennedy's chances at defeating his better known rival Richard Nixon, who had served eight years as Dwight Eisenhower's Red baiting vice president.
The debates took place at Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM-TV. The exact size of the U.S. viewing audience is quoted at anywhere from 60 to 80 million (Wikipedia has it at 66 million out of a population of 179 million). It was likely the largest TV audience up until that time and gives some indication of the impact these debates had on what was one of the closest elections in presidential history.
It has so much impact, in fact, there were no presidential debates in 1964, '68 and '72. Nixon was involved in two of those elections and was probably not very interested in risking another one. He went into the debate as the guy who had used TV to restore his reputation in his early '50s "Checkers" speech. His 1968 "Sock it to me?" cameo on Laugh-In was a controlled hit that some feel helped soften his image heading into the also tight '68 contest.
Aaron Barnhart in the Kansas City Star has a terrific report on the first of those four debates, you can jump to it here.
Barnhart spoke with Sander Vanocur, who moderated that first debate and was in Kansas City Sunday to take part in a series of commentaries on the debates. The veteran newsman, now 82, was an NBC correspondent at the time and only had a few days to find a clean suit, come up with questions and get to Chicago to join reporters from the other networks. Howard K. Smith moderated the debate. Future 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt pulled the shows together.
Don Hewitt preps candidates Kennedy and Nixon
Barnhart's story includes Vanocur's own impression of the first debate: "I thought both of them did well," he says. That's generally not the finding of history. What turned the tide in Kennedy's favour, or so we've always been told, was style over substance. Kennedy had the dark suit, Nixon disappeared into the background in grey. Nixon had injured his leg, caught an infection and looked like death, Kennedy was tanned and rested. Kennedy faked his foe out by refusing makeup; the flop sweat on Nixon's five o'clock shadow grossed out half the nation.
Barnhart's story goes on to suggest that another Kennedy fake out in the fourth and final debate might have been the real knock out punch. Given that the winner got to bang Marilyn, he must have been motivated.
Canada didn't have a televised leaders debate until the 1968 election, with Pierre Trudeau, Robert Stanfield and Tommy Douglas duking it out. I'm pretty sure I watched that one as a lad but I have no memory of it and by all accounts it was pretty dull--especially compared to the Kennedy-Nixon tilt.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Amazing Race helps S#*! sell Sunday on CTV

Daddy-daughter Racers Gary & Mallory
The Amazing Race continues to be an amazing story for CTV, racing back as Canada’s No. 1 Sunday show with close to 2.5 million viewers according to overnight estimates. That topped a big night at the private broadcaster, which squeezed in six shows between 6 p.m. and midnight—and saw all six pull well over a million viewers. Besides Race at 9:30, CTV scored with their always robust local Evening News (1,177,000), a not-so-potent anymore Desperate Housewives (1,284,000 for the seventh season premiere), William Shatner's new sitcom S#*! My Dad Says, doing an estimated 1.5 mil out of simulcast, the season premiere of Undercover Boss, which did better than 1.5 mil and CTV National News, pulling 1,212,000 viewers at 11.
There were still plenty of viewers left over for the other networks Sunday night. CBC's family drama Heartland (below) galloped back at 7 with close to a million viewers. Much-hyped Battle of the Blades did an overnight, estimated 1.5 million at 8 for what was essentially a warm up show; the hockey/figure skating pairs will be introduced tonight at 8 p.m. on CBC.
The Simpsons proved as durable as ever, scoring 1,512,000 for its 22nd season premiere on Global—just a thousand more 2+ viewers than Blades but nearly twice as many in the 18-49-year-old demo. Family Guy also did a million plus for Global, with Brothers &Sisters (792,000) and The Cleveland Show (727,000) also in Global's steady Sunday mix.
Citytv's top show Sunday was the season premiere of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with an estimated 459,000 viewers. TSN had a strong Sunday, with 676,000 CFL fans catching the Edmonton/Argo tilt out East at noon and another 479,000 watching the NFL Sunday night game.
YTV saw 424,000 viewers celebrate the Next Star finale. The third episode of new Canadian supernatural drama Lost Girl was found by 185,000 at 7 and another 144,000 at 8:40 p.m. on Showcase.

Selleck scores big Blue Bloods debut Friday

Never underestimate Tom Selleck. The 65-year-old (above, centre) showed he can still pull an audience—even on a Friday—with the strong debut of his new CBS series Blue Bloods. The New York-based cop drama drew an overnight, estimated 2,126,000 CTV viewers Friday night, making it the second most-watched 2010-11 series premiere over all, just 10,000 viewers behind Global’s Hawaii FIVE-0 estimated take last Monday. In the U.S., Blue Bloods bowed to 12.8 million on CBS. Week two of Jimmy Smits new legal series Outlaw did less than 5 million Stateside on NBC.
CTV had a huge night Friday. CSI: New York roared back with an estimated 2,325,000 viewers. A repeat of Human Target targeted over a million at 8 p.m., with Big Bang finding 859,000 at 7:30 in early prime syndication. The CTV National News did 1,411,000.
With virtually no promotional push, the second season of Ron James CBC comedy found 406,000 viewers. A half million plus caught the second look at the Rick Mercer Report, with CBC getting 641,000 viewers at 9 p.m. for a fifth estate “Above Suspicion” doc. The George Stroumboulopoulos Hungadunga, Hungadunga and McCormick Three Quarter Hour greeted 112,000.
Global’s no flow Friday did not take off with should-have-been-canceled 90210 down to 359,000 at 8, leading into the network premiere of History Television’s Ice Pilots, NWT at 209,000. Outlaw did 612,000, less than a third of that in the demo.
Even TSN outperformed Global with 626,000 CFL fans catching Friday’s Montreal Winnipeg tilt.
The news was better for Global Saturday, in late night at least, as over half a million Canadians tuned in for the 36th season premiere of Saturday Night Live.

This Week's Podcasts: swag feeds my family

CHML's Scott Thompson has a new timeslot. The Hamilton Talk Radio host now works the noon to 3 shift. Last week (way behind here at TVFMF with all the crush of Fall Launch copy), Scott wanted to know all about the swag Fox has been sending critics in the mail to promote their fall season. There was a giant tub of Will Shuester's hair gel from Glee, an actual cane from House (my dad says thanks) and beer mugs from The Simpsons, Family Guy and those other Sunday "Animation Domination" shows on Fox (Duff beer not included).
Some of this ballyhoo backfires. Fox sent a red tube containing two cans of Jolt Cola with labels featuring the casts of Human Target and The Good Guys. Trouble was, the DVD screener was cracked in half. Pretty hard to pack those suckers into tight little cylinders.
Listen in on the CHML chat here.
Over at Lima, Ohio's WIMA, Mike Miller asked about some of the new Monday shows, including the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. This new offering from Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory) stars Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy as a couple who meet at an overeaters anonymous meeting. We touch on Lone Star, which has limped into a second week after a disastrous launch, barely drawing four million viewers on Fox. Unless that takes a big jump tonight, look for Lone Star to be the first cancellation of the season. Mike also asks about The Event, the what-the-heck-is-going-on mystery/drama from NBC. City got some traction from this sucker last week. What is The Event? Was it the canning of Jeff Zucker last week? I'm thinking yes.
Listen in to the WIMA radio char here.
Also tonight, more House (the crabby MD and Cuddy find how their canoodling plays at the office) and week two of Hawaii FIVE-0 and Chase, plus the pairs are declared on CBC's Battle of the Blades. Next Monday: CBC launches the new comedy Men With Brooms.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Battle of the Blades eases back onto the ice

Tonight's season two premiere of CBC's Battle of the Blades is a bit of a free skate. There's no actual competition, with tonight's show more of an hour long introduction of the eight ex-NHLers and eight female figure skating champions taking part in this season's competition.
I had a sneak peak of the hour Friday in Toronto up in executive producer John Brunton's corner office at Insight Productions. The room is crammed with photos and memorabilia of Brunton's more than two decades in the TV biz, along with a plush moose head, a felt top hat and an autographed Curtis Joseph Maple Leaf sweater. Behind Brunton's desk is that famous black and white photo of Muhammad Ali KO-ing Sonny Liston.
Former Calgary Flame sniper Theo Fleury and two-time Russian pairs Olympic gold medalist Ekaterina Gordeeva (above) are in this year's Blades battle but are not necessarily skating together. Read more about who's on the ice this season in this feature I wrote for Sunday's Toronto Star. The actual pairs won't be announced until Monday. The real competition begins next Sunday night, Oct. 3, on CBC.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spot Polkaroo Sunday at Word on the Street

Everyone needs a good Polkaroo every now and then. Which brings us to Sunday's "Word on the Street" festival in Toronto, where TVOntario children's icon Polkaroo (right with unidentified TV critic) will be on the prowl. The colourful Polka Dot Door mascot is helping to kick off the Ontario educational broadcaster's 40th anniversary and bring awareness to the many new digital offerings it is launching. Among them is a way to tap into the archive of past gems from TVO, launched way back in 1970 under pipe smoking premier Bill Davis.
TVO Chair Peter O'Bian and CEO Lisa de Wilde will be on hand to help launch a "Where's Polkaroo?" contest, a little shtick borrowed from the movie "Up in the Air." There's fun stuff for kids scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the TVOKids stage. Not sure if the best ever Polka Dot Door host Carrie Loring will also be there but she should. Check here for more information.

No Theory: Big Bang Canada's No. 1 show

The Big Bang Theory roared back Thursday night on CTV, drawing an overnight, estimated 3.1 million-plus viewers across Canada. All those billboards and bus shelter ads paid off. CTV says that's the biggest Canadian TV audience for a sitcom since the finale of Friends.  CTV had a monster night thanks to Thursday imports that do better in Canada than in the United States. Grey's Anatomy pulled 2,528,000 at 9, while The Mentalist did even better at 10, drawing 2,643,000.
So You Think You Can Dance Canada's results show, tucked behind the Big Bang explosion at 8:30, waltzed off with 1.2 million viewers. Old reliable CSI pulled 1,863,000 out of simulcast at crazy early 7 p.m., thanks mainly to Canadian-born guest star Justin Bieber.
There were still plenty of viewers left over for the return of Bones on Global, which did a robust 1,743,000 opposite Big Bang (despite being the cheesiest episode ever). Global Thursday comedies The Office (888,000) and newcomer Outsourced (close to 800,000) kept the lights on. Not so much at CBC, where The Nature of Things (373,000) and Doc Zone (321,000) did BBM (Below the Brampton Mark).
Which brings us to this cockamamie front page story in Saturday's Toronto Star, the one that says CBC has pulled past Global as "the second most watched network in Canada after CTV."
What--on Saturdays during the hockey season? CBC has been spinning this fable for a couple of years now, ever since the U.S. writers strike put Global at a disadvantage for a few weeks one winter, allowing CBC a tiny advantage for about ten minutes. That was the year CBC declared the TV season was only as long as the writers strike, sorta like when George Bush had that "Mission Accomplished" photo op on that fighter jet.
I'm all for putting Allan Hawco on any Front Page and giving Republic of Doyle, Dragon's Den, Battle of the Blades and Heartland their due, but a glance at the latest BBM Canada weekly Top 30 shows that for the week of Sept. 13-19, Global had nine of the Top-30 shows across Canada (including No. 1 Survivor Nicaragua) compared to CBC's three--and two of those were Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! The next weekly Top-30 will be even more tilted toward CTV and Global as season premieres for Glee, House, Bones and Hawaii FIVE-0 kick in. If you compare in the 18-49 demo--the one that matters most to advertisers--CBC falls even further behind the private networks. (CTV, BTW, had 16 shows in the Sept. 13-19 list, with Citytv chipping in with two.)
Thursday night, CBC fell to fourth place across Canada behind emerging Citytv stations, where the season premiere of Fringe (666,000--the sign of the ratings beast!) scored at 9 p.m., with 30 Rock doing 653,000 and Community back with 389,000. City, which had a strong week with returning hits Modern Family and Cougar Town and a good start with The Event, could in fact battle CBC for third across Canada all season.
TSN also drew close to half a million for a Tampa Bay/Edmonton pre-season hockey game.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Launch Week: Friday

Fridays used to be where shows went to die. Not this year, with both ABC and Fox launching new shows with big names into a night CBS never gave up on. Tom Selleck, Jimmy Smits and Dana Delany all headline Friday night launches this fall. Read more about the Friday revival at this story I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.
Back for another season tonight are The Ron James Show (CBC at 8), The fifth estate (CBC at 9), summer start up The Good Guys (Fox at 9), Smallville (CW at 8; Sept. 28, CHCH), School Pride (NBC at 8), Dateline (NBC and A at 9) and 20/20 (ABC and CHCH at 10). The new shows are:

Body of Proof (9 p.m., ABC)
Renown neurosurgeon Dr, Megan Hunt (Dana Delany, left) can’t cut people up anymore after injuring her hands in a car accident and so becomes a crusading medical examiner. “You can’t kill somebody when they’re already dead,” she figures. Jeri Ryan (Shark) plays her hot boss.
STARWEEK RATING: “I like that she’s complicated,” says Delany, another returning TV star who never seems to wear out her welcome. Hey, Quincy ran for seven seasons (including two on Friday night).

Ice Pilots: NWT (9 p.m., Global)
If you missed the takeoff of this riveting reality series last year on History Television, grab a parachute and climb aboard one of the vintage DC3’s kept aloft by Buffalo Airways. These old war birds patrol the Canadian arctic thanks to crusty air coot Joe McBryan, his enterprising son Mikey and a hanger full of twentysomething recruits. You haven’t really flown, as McBryan says, until you’ve strapped one of these suckers to the seat of your pants and made the lift out of Yellowknife.
STARWEEK RATING: Flying this over to the mother network is a bit like buzzing the tower, but then again, it is the best Canadian reality series ever.

Outlaw (began last week, 10 P.M., NBC and Global)
A member of the U.S. Supreme Court (Jimmy Smits, left) who loves to screw around and gamble gets fed up with the system, man, and bolts the bench to become a crusading law avenger.
STARWEEK RATING: Like Jim Belushi in The Defenders, Smits takes money for slumming through legal lite. The always welcome actor is easy to accept as a flawed folk hero and could find that times call for just such a law man of the people.

Blue Bloods (10 p.m., CBS and CTV)
Tom Selleck (Jesse Stone) returns to series TV as Frank Reagan, the heroic head of the New York police department. He’s also head of a family full of law enforcers, including sons with badges Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) and Jamie (Will Estes) and DA daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan). Len Cariou plays police patriarch Henry; Bobby Canavalle (Third Watch) joins the DA’s office.
STARWEEK RATING: Executive producer Robin Green, half of the husband-and-wife writing team behind several Sopranos episodes, says this series grew “as sort of a curative after Sopranos to find out what a hero is today.” Selleck is down with that and we’ll see it explored as much around a dinner table as a squad room.

Zucker Comcast out at NBC Universal

First Ivan Fecan, now Jeff Zucker. Bill Carter at the New York Times has the scoop on the departure of Zucker, the former Today Show producer wunderkind who went on to become the top NBC Universal executive. While not a complete surprise--Comcast is in the process of acquiring the broadcast and cable giant and that usually means a change in command--it's still a shock, especially, apparently, to Zucker:
“I’ve spent over half my life at NBC. This is the only place I have ever worked. I’ve been here 24 and a half years. I met my wife here. My four kids were born while I was here. I’ve endured colon cancer twice. It’s going to be incredibly strange for me personally” to leave.
Zucker, 45, gets plenty of blame for what may go down as the biggest programming fiasco ever--slotting late night talk show host Jay Leno in nightly at 10 p.m. The move undermined NBC's already withering schedule and seems to have left a lagging dent in Leno's current Tonight Show ratings. Tonight just came off its worst summer ever.
Zucker was also ultimately responsible for some of the worst development in the history of the Peacock network. Check out these show titles: Emeril, Father of the Pride, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Joey, Coupling, Kings, the revised Knight Rider, LAX, Crusoe... From "Must See" to "Must we?" When it came to programming, the man had the Midas touch. Everything he touched turned into a muffler.
Picking Ben Silverman to briefly run NBC Entertainment did nothing to enhance Zucker's already tarnished reputation, although he should score some of those points back for elevating impressive programming executive Jeff Gaspin.
Critics suspected something was up when Zucker quietly slipped into NBC's press tour party last August on the roof of the Beverly Hilton parking lot. Zucker sightings had become scarce at recent press tours. He seemed to be back for one last mingle with the scribes.
I always found him accessible and professional at these events. He once gave me the best explanation of why 18-to-49 still mattered I ever heard. But he got little love overall from our group. Zucker's highly competitive approach--supersizing hits like Friends to sabotage opposing shows being just one example--seemed to take network nastiness to a new level. He came off arrogant when NBC was on top and, as a result, many critics never tired of seeing him humbled.
On the plus side, Zucker grew NBC Universal's cable division into a dominant money machine. The network also scored big ratings as well as accolades for their coverage of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
A change of scenery might do him good. Hey, I hear there will soon be an opening at CTV.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Criminal Minds still in charge at CTV

Ratings results from Night Three of Fall Launch Week:
CTV had the biggest draw of the night with the stronger-in-Canada forensic cop drama Criminal Minds. The CBS series, starring Thomas Gibson (left), drew an overnight, estimated 2,639,000 viewers. That was followed at 10 p.m. by the debut of the new Jim Belushi Vegas romp The Defenders, which rolled surprisingly close to the 2 million mark. Still, CTV isn't betting on the CBS series, banishing it to Saturday starting next week, when they’ll slide Law & Order: Los Angeles into the Wednesday at 10 slot. So You Think You Can Dance Canada waltzed off with 1,113,000 viewers for its performance show. The CTV National News soared to more than 1.3 million estimated Lloyd fans at 11.
Global had the No. 2 show on the night, the can’t-kill-it-with-a-Tiki-torch Survivor: Nicaragua, which did close to 2.5 mil. A rerun of NCIS fell to 928,000, giving no lift to new Canadian drama Shattered, which settled for the BBM (Below Brampton Mark) of 423,000. Dawna Friesen’s nightly news address to Earthlings pulled a steady 1.1 million at 5:30.
CBC was competitive Wednesday thanks to the return of Dragon’s Den, which pulled close to 1.6 million. The final season debut of The Tudors did close to a million. The gun registry vote shot the CBC National News to a robust 739,000 at 10 p.m. The renamed George Stroumboulopoulos Happy Funtime Goodtime Hour did 181,000 at 11.
That Emmy win helped the season premiere of Modern Family (featuring Emmy-winner Eric Stonestreet, right) to a million-plus night on Citytv. The Rogers-owned City stations also scored a hefty 836,000 for Jennifer Aniston's guest star turn on Cougar Town at 9:30. Undercovers opened to 608,000 on the City stations. The verdict for The Whole Truth was not as promising, with the Maura Tierney law drama opening to 331,000 Citytv viewers.
Leafs are back and making a dent in pre-season, with 611,000 checking out the buds Wednesday night on TSN.

Netflix--not Global--has Keri Russell's back

BIG FAT CORRECTION: Global doesn't have Canadian rights to Keri Russell's new Fox comedy Running Wilde as I erroneously reported here earlier today. The series, which also stars Will Arnett, is available on new-to-Canada Netflix as I reported Wednesday. Maybe I should read my own copy! You'd almost think I made this crummy mistake on purpose just to run another hot pic of Ms. Russell! Like I would do that! In any event, this is how I'd promote Netflix, not with fake testimonials from hired actors--that's right out of the Bluth playbook. Netflix--the content provider with legs!

Pilot do-over gives hope to S#*! My Dad Says

My son came home from high school today and said his English teacher nailed him on his first essay assignment of the year. Seems he strayed a tad off topic.
I told him I did the same thing last week with a story I had recently been assigned at a newspaper. I was asked to deliver an essay on two shows. When I went back and listened to the press tour interviews I would be drawing from, I found the creator of one show had what I thought was some pretty illuminating things to say. I tilted the story his way and pressed send.
Trouble was, that's not what my editor expected. So I took the feedback, balanced the story back toward the original pitch, and re-sent.
The lesson: everybody needs a do-over every now and then.
Even the brains behind TV's No. 1 comedy, The Big Bang Theory (returning for a fourth season tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS and CTV). Seems they screwed it up the first time. A bangless original pilot occasionally surfaces on the Internet but is usually quickly ordered down, probably by co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre. "We should have burned that sucker," Lorre told critics last summer at press tour.
The first pilot didn't have the rhythm, relationships or even the casting right. Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki were there but the other key cast members were not.
Lorre says he's grateful CBS gave them a do-over to write another script and recast the parts won by Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar. "We knew, and everybody, both at Warner Bros. and CBS, and [co-creator Bill Prady] and I knew, the gold we had in Johnny and Jim. I mean, we knew we could build from that. That was clear that they were terrific even though we didn’t have the script right at first."
Prady says one scene in the first pilot--where Sheldon and Leonard are discussing what to do about a crying woman on the street--did give them a clue to follow. "That’s what’s going to set this thing apart if we can make it work," Prady realized. "So, you know, I mean, it’s embarrassing to have your failures out for people to look at, except what you can see in the middle of that failure is hopefully what’s the core of what ultimately made it work."
Sasso, Shatner, Sullivan: once more with feelings
Which brings us, in a round about way, to the new comedy that follows Big Bang tonight at 8:30 on CBS (and airs Sunday at 8 on CTV), S#*! My Dad Says. This is the show that stars Williams Shatner that is based on a Twitter feed about a cranky dad who says outrageous things. That was the pitch, and CBS bought into it.
The first pilot, however, was S#*!e. Shatner, who at 79 had never done a sitcom before, wasn't the problem. The creators simply missed on trying to milk a series out of this one joke premise. The older son and daughter-in-law, played by ex-Mad-TV players Will Sasso and Nicole Sullivan (left with Shatner), were whiny and annoying, really loathsome. The actor hired to play opposite Shatner as the younger son who moves home just didn't have the right push back for the part. Some of the jokes were like Twitter water torture.
A few weeks ago, CBS sent out their do-over. While they didn't turn S#*! into gold, that pilot, which airs tonight, is a big improvement.
The new son, named Henry, is played by Jonathan Sadowski (She's The Man). He stands up to Shatner's cranky, 72-year-old dad. Instead of recasting Sullivan, somebody showed her the original pilot. Her performance is dialed way back, almost as if she was recast. She's much more likable now, and so is Sasso.
There still are some crude clunkers in the script, but there are also some much funnier lines. Veteran sitcom director James Burrows helmed both pilots, and seems to over direct at times in the version that hits the air tonight. Still, the series approaches the tone from the last hit from executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, Will & Grace.
A lot of viewers tonight will tune in for Shatner and he shows the same comedy chops he worked all those seasons on Boston Legal as well as in many of of commercial endorsements. He also finds a way to make this hard-ass crabby dad sympathetic, somebody you'd want to spent time with every week.
My son says S#*! My Dad Says can now be upgraded to Crap My Dad Says. We'll see if he revises his review as the season progresses.

Esquire Running Wilde for Keri Russell

Are you kidding me? Nobody in Canada is currently broadcasting Running Wilde, the zany new comedy starring Toronto-born Will Arnett and Keri Russell (above). In their current issue, Esquire magazine thinks the girl needs more coverage. Couldn’t agree more. Global has a hole to fill Monday at 9 with first bomb of the season Lone Star, about to be cancelled on Fox. Global has Canadian rights already to both Running Wilde and my favourite new series, Raising Hope, but just hasn’t found room for either of them yet on their schedule. There’s your solution, Global. As you can clearly see, Running Wilde has legs. Don’t make me run this photo for no apparent reason again!

Fall launch Week: Thursday

Returning tonight: The Nature of Things (CBC at 8), Doc Zone (CBC at 9), Bones (Fox and Global at 8), Fringe (Fox and City at 9), The Big Bang Theory (CBS and CTV at 8). CSI (CBS at 9), The Mentalist (CBS and CTV at 10), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC and CTV at 9), Private Practice (ABC and A at 10), Community (NBC and City at 8), 30 Rock (NBC and City at 8:30), The Office (NBC and Global at 9) and Supernatural (CHCH at 9; Sept. 24, CW at 9). Already back: Vampire Diaries (CW and /A\ at 8), The Apprentice (NBC and Global at 10). As for the brand new shows:

My Generation (Sept. 23, 8 p.m., ABC)
A documentary crew follows a group of high school students ten years after they graduate to see how many are no longer living in their parent’s basements. Michael Stahl-David, Kelli Garner, Jamie King, Keir O’Donnell and other very photogenic young people star.
STARWEEK RATING: In a season of older-skewing shows starring older-skewing stars, something for the twentysomethings. Maybe these former students should have studied documentary filmmaking, there seems to be endless opportunities in scripted television.

$#*! My Dad Says (8:30 p.m., CBS; Sunday at 8, CTV)
Based on an actual Twitter feed about a cranky old man (William Shatner) who blurts outrageous things that his son (Jonathan Sadowski) tweets.
STARWEEK RATING: Too easily dismissed in 140 characters or less. Shat OK as cranky dad, more Archie Bunker than Denny Crane. Mad-TV alumni Will Sasso and Nicole Sullivan much easier to take in revised pilot as older son and daughter-in-law. Joke joke joke format like Twitter water torture. Sensors indicate S#*!e.

Outsourced (9:30 p.m., NBC and Global)
Rookie manager Todd (newcomer Ben Rappaport) is shipped to India to head up an office call centre for an American novelty company. The locals are baffled by crass catalogue items they have to sell like fake barf. Rizwan Manji, Sacha Dhawan, Parvesh Cheena and Dietrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) form the mainly Indian ensemble.
STARWEEK RATING: Screened this with my 17-year-old son. Is this offensive or hilarious, I asked him. “Dad,” he said, “it’s hilarious because it’s offensive.” Rappaport is well cast and Bader note perfect. Indian scenes could be spicier and more authentic but Canadians used to Little Mosque will go with the flavour. Dig in.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Glee makes noise in Tuesday debut

There was Glee at Global Tuesday night as the relocated musical series drew 2,180,000 viewers for its second season premiere. Global's strong night two of the new season continued with the season premiere of Canada bashing NCIS: Los Angeles (1,729,000 for the first hour and 1,373,000 for the second). At 5:30, 1,051,000 earthlings caught Dawna Friesen on Global National.
CTV scored with ABC import Dancing with the Stars, with an overnight, estimated 1,346,000 catching the dull first hour and nearly 2.1 million sticking around for the second hour when The Hoff was booted out. Criminal Minds drew over a million at 10, with the CTV National News pulling 1,144,000.
The Rick Mercer Report stormed back with 1,222,000 viewers, his strongest season opener ever. 22 Minutes at 8:30 rode the Mercer wave to 818,000. Being Erica, however, cut that in half with a BBM (Below Brampton Mark) of 409,000. CBC National News came in just under half a million at 10 and fell from there.
There was more joy on Monday as Queen Elizabeth in 3D scored on CBC, drawing nearly a million loyal subjects (or nearly two million eyeballs). If you missed the Doc Zone doc, you can catch it tonight at 10 p.m. on CBC News Network. The special features actual 3D footage of the coronation of QEII from 1953--the height of the original 3D film craze. British archivists are still searching for the follow up features Queen Elizabeth vs. The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Bwana Devil Meets Her Majesty.

Cadaver, J-Lo join American Idol

Fox announced today that Steven Tyler (left), Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson will be the judges this season on American Idol. The 10th season of the popular talent search show begins in January. This is the total extend of my interest in this.
Except to say that the announcement, streamed live from Los Angeles, was a big bore. "Season ten is the re-mix," said Jackson. There was no snotty Brit to say, "PU-Lease." 
Please resume your normal activities.
Dawg looks like a lady: Jackson, Lopez, Tyler and Seacrest

Mad Men on demand part of Netflix Canada pitch

If you still have a Blockbuster in your neighbourhood, stop in soon to say goodbye. Netflix launched in Canada today and at $7.99 for a month of unlimited movies and TV shows, it is poised to be an impact player in the content-on-demand landscape.
On the TV front, Netflix has the first three seasons of Mad Men on their Canadian menu--a perk not even offered on the service in the States. The current season of the AMC series, however, is not part of the Netflix deal.
The Northern California-based company has also made a deal to offer five seasons of Trailer Park Boys. Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings (above) admits he's never seen it, but he heard it is a draw here so he cut a cheque to bring it into the Netflix tent.
The TV content is pretty hit and miss. Netfix, for example, offers the new Will Arnett comedy Running Wilde. You can download it at Netflix the same day it airs in Canada and the U.S.
Most of their catalogue, however, is older episodes and second run features. Hastings insists he's not in direct competition with the remaining DVD stores because 80% of their business is new releases. Netflix is more focused now on delivering content to your laptop, iPad, iPhone, Sony PlayStation and even the new Apple TV when it is introduced here.
Hastings says he's not after any exclusive deals. He'll simply offer a different window on content. Still, can't imagine CTV, Global or City are going to share any rights to all the stuff they pay to import.
Still, money talks, says Hastings. He's got some cash to throw at people with so-called broken business models. He has fewer headaches, too--his business is not subject to any of those annoying Canadian government content requirements. There's no CRTC hoop to hop through.
You'll find movies like Superbad, Slumdog Millionaire and Fantastic Mr. Fox on Netflix's menus. Past seasons of Rescue Me, Monk and other U.S. cable fare are also available, as are kiddie shows like Dora the Explorer. There's even old episodes of Fawlty Towers.
Netflix is offering a free month long window on their service to Canadians. When that $7.99 cost kicks in, it will still be a buck a month cheaper than what it costs in the States, where it has 15 million subscribers. Find out more here.
The American on-demand provider certainly has Rogers' attention. This week, they've beefed up their Rogers-on-demand content.

Fall Launch Week: Wednesday

Day Three of Fall Launch Week brings a den full of returning shows, including the incredibly popular Dragon’s Den (CBC at 8), The Tudors (CBC at 9), Hell’s Kitchen (Fox at 9; Sept. 24 on City at 8), Criminal Minds (CBS at 9), The Middle (ABC at 8; CTV at 9), Emmy-winning comedy Modern Family (ABC and City at 9) and Cougar Town (ABC and City at 9:30),  with guest star Jennifer Aniston joining former Friends friend Courteney Cox. Here's a look at the series premieres starting tonight:

Undercovers (8 p.m., NBC and City)
Two stunningly attractive married spies (Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) come out of retirement to save the world. Spy boss Gerald McRaney (Deadwood, Jericho) puts them up to it. J.J. Abrams (Fringe, Lost) is behind it.
STARWEEK RATING: Saw clips of this at the City launch and though can’t miss; it’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith with better looking actors. Then watched the entire pilot and was bored to death. Fix it, J.J.!

Better with You (8:30 p.m., ABC)
Montreal native Jennifer Finnigan (Close to Home) is one-sixth of this comedy ensemble about three couples of various ages and stages and their wacky relationships. Debra Jo Rupp from That ‘70s Show also stars.
STARWEEK RATING: There are more laughs on Dating in the Dark than this lame sitcom. Better With Gravol.

The Defenders (10 p.m., CBS; 8 p.m., CTV)
Jim Belushi (According to Jim) and Jerry O’Connell (Crossing Jordan) team up as Vegas defence attorneys.
STARWEEK RATING: As Elvis might say, the pilot could have used a little less conversation, a little more action. Belushi and O’Connell seem like more fun than your average lawyers. Best enjoyed with cocktails.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Aloha! Global rides House, FIVE-0 to Monday win

BBM book 'em, Danno. Global rode a wave of old and new premieres to take the first night of the new season in overnight ratings.
House returned strong with nearly 2.7 million viewers across Canada according to overnight estimates. Second on the night was CTV's two-hour Dancing with the Stars, which waltzed off with an estimated 2,479,000 viewers.
Global won the battle of the buzzed-about rookies with Hawaii FIVE-0 opening to 2,136,000 viewers at 10, easily topping the just over one million who caught The Event at 9 p.m. on Citytv stations.
CTV captured close to two million at 10 with a surprisingly strong Castle, with the season premiere of Two and a Half Men over on /A\ shading a repeat of CTV's overworked Big Bang Theory (1,376,000 to 1,218,000). Over on TSN, a further 843,000 caught the Saints/49ers nailbiter on Monday Night Football. That topped the 824,000 who caught the debut of Lone Star Monday night at 9 on Global.
New Global National News interplanetary anchor Dawna Friesen scored 1.1 million viewers for her Monday at 5:30 debut.
CANADIAN UPDATE: The newly re-christianed George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight returned to an overnight, estimated audience of 102,000 on CBC at 11 Monday night, or about a dozen viewers per vowel. Would it have killed them to call this thing Strombo?
UPDATE: The opening night news Stateside told a much different story. House opened so-so on Fox with an overnight, estimated 10.5 million viewers, but was overwhelmed by ABC's Dancing with the Stars, which swelled to more than twice as many viewers and averaged over 21 million over the two hour broadcast. Never underestimate The Hoff.
Hawaii FIVE-0 opened to 13.83 million at 10 on CBS, down slightly from CSI: Miami's take one year earlier. New CBS sitcom Mike & Molly was sampled by a respectable 12.24 million CBS viewers. The Event did 11.19 million at 9 on NBC, a competitive third in the timeslot. NBC's Chase ran third with 7.94 million, so-so but better than what Jay Leno was drawing at that hour one year ago.
Dead-on-arrival was the Fox flop Lone Star, which barely topped 4 million U.S. viewers and sank by nearly a million from 9 to 9:30. Global may have to go to the bench pretty soon on Monday nights. Chuck averaged 6.06 million viewers at 8 on NBC.
That's less than the overnight, estimated 7.1 million who caught the premiere of Boardwalk Empire on HBO Sunday night (albeit over three airings; the initial 9 p.m. window drew a strong 4.8 million). I'll drink to that!The critically acclaimed prohibition drama has already drawn a second season order from HBO.

Glee back on track in sassy season two premiere

Good news, Gleeks. The second season premiere of last year's breakout series Glee is a satisfying return to form. Don't miss the first five minutes, where creator Ryan Murphy gives a big F-U to all of us who thought the musical descended into gay karaoke the last half of last season.
Josh Sussman, hilarious as Jew-fro-ed blogger Jacob Ben Israel, opens the season by gooning all the regulars with his web cam. The theme of his expose: Glee's "Big Gay Summer."
One of his hard-hitting questions: "Will Schuester--how do you respond from a post on my blog saying your glee club song selections sound like they come from a drag queen's iPod?" Would that Ben Israel worked the press tour.
The segment is cheeky, inspired and hilarious. Don't overlook Ben Israel's mike clip.
The fun in the details is back on Glee. With a summer to finally catch his breath, Emmy award winner Murphy has put the focus back on high school politics and relationships, both among the students and the teachers.

Sue stares down the Beiste: Dot Jones and Jane Lynch

Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele, above) are back together and as mis-matched as ever. Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) is back on the war path.
A beast of a new gym teacher, coach Sannon Beiste (real life arm wrestling champ Dot Jones) joins the cast as a new nemesis for Sylvester. She's formidable in the season opener, but reveals a surprisingly tender side later in the episode.
Jones' addition to the cast sadly spells the end of the Glee road for Canadian actor Patrick Gallagher, who played frustrated football coach and would be Romeo Ken Tanaka. We hear about what happens to the character in the screener sent to critics but we don't see it. Monteith hinted at the summer press tour that Gallagher did get one, last, spectacular scene in the series so I'm hoping it makes the version that airs tonight.
The season premiere even shows there is a way to work in a guest star without wrecking the flow of the series. Wee songbird Charice guests as a potential new recruit for the glee club and fits in seamlessly with the rest of the cast.
Okay, this has potential
Next week, Britney Spears is showcased in an episode where the Glee Brittany (Heather Morris) gets to shine. That sounds like a slide right back into Olivia Newton John-land but Murphy was pretty pumped about Spears interest in the show when he spoke with critics art the summer press tour. Former Full House dude John Stamos also guests on episode two as Will's dentist.
Beautiful Montreal native Jessalyn Gilsig was in Toronto yesterday to help promote the series and says her character, Will's self-obsessed ex- Terri, will return in episode two and really gets back into the series in episode six. Look for another marital meltdown scene, this time in front of the other women, Emma (Jayma Mays). Murphy said at press tour that Terri has plenty of unfinished business with Mr. Shue.
Sadly, hair not included
The kids at the Fox fun factory shipped an oversized giant tub of Mr. Shue's hair gel to critics. It's pretty sad when you reach an age where you see this stuff more as a solution to untamed eyebrows than thinning head hair.
The thing the folks at Fox most want to stick: Glee kicks off a new season on a new night, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox and Global.

Fall Launch Week: Tuesday

Tuesday of Fall Launch week brings the return of several shows, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (CTV at 10; tomorrow night at 9 on NBC), the Rick Mercer Report (CBC at 8), This Hour has 22 Minutes (CBC at 8:30), Being Erica (CBC at 9), Dancing with the Stars (results, ABC and CTV at 9), The Biggest Loser (NBC and City at 8), Glee (Fox and Global at 8), NCIS (CBS at 8, tomorrow night on Global at 9) and NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS and Global at 9). As for the brand new shows:

Raising Hope (Sept. 21, 9 p.m., Fox)
A family of misfits face an unexpected challenge: raising a baby. The off-kilter cast--Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton (The Good Wife), Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood), Skyler Stone, Shannon Marie Woodward and 84-year-old Cloris Leachman--give Hope an indie film feel.
STARWEEK RATING: Critics are wildly divided on this one. Some can’t stand this freaky family, others can’t get enough of them. All I know is that there are moments in the pilot that are laugh out loud funny and others that are surprisingly sweet and touching. That’s enough to make it my favourite new show of the season.

Running Wilde (Sept. 21, 9:30 p.m., Fox)
A rich, arrogant jerk (Will Arnett) tries to woo an old high school sweetie (Keri Russell). One’s a tree hugger, the other’s a silly bugger. Hilarity ensues.
STARWEEK RATING: It’s from Mitch Hurwitz, God to critics who still mourn the loss of Arrested Development. So why was this pilot such a shocking misfire? Scrub that hurried mess out of your memory banks, Hurwitz begged critics at press tour. Sweeping changes in cast and tone are coming (including the addition of Arnett’s Bluth buddy David Cross). Now they just have to rename it: Arrested Expectations.

Detroit 1-8-7 (Sept. 21, 10 p.m., ABC)
…Maple Leafs nothing. Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) plays a detective patrolling the mean streets of Motor City in this gritty drama. A fine cast, including Jon Michael Hill, Natalie Martinez, Aisha Hinds and a surprisingly sober Shaun Majumder (This Hour Has 22 Minutes).
STARWEEK RATING: Canadian networks, not needing a Tuesday at 10 fix, passed on this series. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good cop show. It’s just that there are already 187 cop shows.