Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CTV got more Bang for its buck

UPDATED BELOW. CTV announced today that they've won another season, their 10th in a row, in both total audience and the 25-54-year-old demo. That's extraordinary--unprecedented across North America, except perhaps CBC's monopoly in the '50s and big head start throughout the '60s. In the fiercely competitive TV business of today, CTV's dominance is staggering.
Still, they had to skew their release to their advantage, but that is what this time of year is all about. CTV says they are up 9% year-to-year (discounting the Olympics), but helping goose that claim is the fact they've framed prime time as 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.--raking in all that ratings gold syndicated episodes of The Big Bang Theory delivered all season long as a 7:30 strip.
The Bang reruns were up two to three times what CTV was pulling in that timeslot the year earlier, so, yeah, the network was up overall. Frame the race from 8 to 11--true prime time by any industry yard stick--and CTV probably sits about even year-to-year.
The 7 p.m. thing also puts CBC second overall (although not in demos), thanks to Wheel and Jeopardy! Jeopardy! had a monster year, what with folks tuning in to see man vs. machine and a few brainiac hot streaks. But the public broadcaster has already gone on record that it is going to lose Jeopardy! after this coming season in order to cut down on imports. Trust me, they won't be pulling 1.2 mil a night with Being Erica reruns in 2012-13.
CTV is happy to cast Global, of course, down to third place. It's not true in the demos and not true 8 to 11 p.m.
[UPDATE: CTV says sure, take out 7-8 early prime hour and their ratings were flat for the season, but the rest of the story--everybody else down year-to-year and Global dipping below CBC--remains valid 8-11 p.m. Global SVP Barb Williams disputes this, suggesting anybody can spin numbers to win their argument and no fair counting Stanley Cup hockey heads.]
Interesting to note one of CTV's best performers is a show CBS has canceled: S#*! My Dad Says.
Here's Canada's 2010-11 Top 10 according to CTV (based on BBM Canada data):

Total Viewers

1. THE BIG BANG THEORY (CTV) 3.18 million
2. AMERICAN IDOL (CTV) 2.83 million
3. GREY’S ANATOMY (CTV) 2.77 million
4. THE AMAZING RACE 17 & 18 (CTV) 2.73 million
5. CRIMINAL MINDS (CTV) 2.57 million
7. THE MENTALIST (CTV) 2.49 million
8. DANCING WITH THE STARS – PERF 11 & 12 (CTV) 2.44 million
9. $#*! MY DAD SAYS (CTV) 2.2 million
10. DANCING WITH THE STARS – RESULTS 11 & 12 (CTV) 2.09 million

Bunnies energize Rogers/City upfront

Made the scene at the Rogers TV Sales 2011 Fall Launch Monday in Toronto, the first of this week's three network upfronts. Was there for hours, at the press sessions, the presentation at the Canon Theatre and the after party at the Hard Rock Cafe. Stood around and waited and waited but still nobody at Rogers threw any money at me.
I guess they were exhausted from throwing all that money at the Hollywood Studios during the recent LA screenings. Rogers/City bought a lot of American dramas and comedies for the 2011-12 season. Stuff from proven U.S. showrunners like J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, including Terra Nova, Person of Interest and Alcatraz. Other dramas include The Playboy Club, Revenge and a U.S. cable pick up, Shameless (previously seen in Canada on Pay-TV's The Movie Network/Movie Central).
Rogers hired a couple of babes in bunny ears to walk around Monday so you could tell they had the Playboy show. I think they rattled Rogers' EVP Malcolm Dunlop. When he was up on stage, he called the new series the Bunny Club. Honest mistake.
The girls weren't real Playboy bunnies, as I confirmed later. (I am a professional reporter, don't try this at home.) In fact, the only over inflated balloons at the Rogers upfront were outside the theatre.
And those are the kind of raunchy sex jokes you can expect to hear next season from 2 Broke Girls, a CBS sitcom and one of the new comedies coming next season on City. The other new sitcoms are New Girl (starring the impossible to resist Zooey Deschanel), Suburgatory and Last Man Standing (starring Tim Allen). Rogers also stole Raising Hope from Global as well as The Middle and Private Practice from /A\ (which is being rebranded CTV Two, but more on that Thursday at CTV's upfront.) Mid-season comedy includes Apartment 23, a show that stars James Van Der Beek as himself. Hey, work's work.
Rogers didn't buy all the new shows next fall. They left Global the rights East of Manitoba to Train 48, and, uh, even possible spinoffs Train 49 and 50.
Zooey Deschanel stars as the New Girl
They also left production of any new Canadian scripted shows up to the competition. Their big Can-con announcement Monday was Canada's Got Talent. It'll be produced by John Brunton's Insight Productions and will reunite Brunton with his old Canadian Idol hombre, Ed Robinson. Look for it next March, although auditions will start in the fall. Howie Mandel won't host, but Brunton expects Howie will have a role to play in the new show. International producing partner FremantelMedia offered to throw in former AGT judge David Hasselhoff if Rogers picked up his bar tab; talks are on-going.
Mandel gave a shout out to advertisers via video, as did 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin. Baldwin deadpanned that City was "as Canadian as poutine" and made cracks about the Barenaked Ladies The ad kids ate it up.
There was also news of Secret Millionaire Canada, although details were even more secret. Yannick Bisson from Murdoch Mysteries came out on stage and waved to the crowd. He was the token Canadian at Rogers' after party, the Where's Waldo? of homegrown talent.
TVFMF fave Melissa DeMarco also worked the room to promote the pick up of the seventh season of her red carpet docu-comedy, Out There. She was wearing her Ghetto Stiletto boots, always welcome.
Earlier in the day, the press hung out with Beth Behrs, one of the 2 Broke Girls, plus "Manny" (Rico Rodriguez) from City's ABC hit, Modern Family. The 12-year-old charmed critics and later advertisers and nobody seemed to mind that Sofia Vergara didn't make the flight north.
Elisha Cuthbert was also in the house to promote the pick up of her sassy midseason comedy Happy Endings. Cuthbert told the critic who was asking the "What's on your nightstand?" question that she was currently reading the Bible. She also says she doesn't Twitter. This was all predicted in the Book of Really Lame Revelations.
She learned her show was picked up when she was in Spain this spring with puck buddy Dion Phaneuf, the Leaf captain who was taking part in the World hockey tourney.
Canadian Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible) also was on hand to chat up new drama Revenge; fellow Canuck Emily vanCamp is also in that one.
Speaking of revenge, Rogers execs Keith Pelley and Scott Moore gave their old employers at CTV and CBC plenty to worry about during their scripted stage turns. They crowed that City's prime time ratings were up 40% over the past two seasons. "It's a momentum story," we were told.

What they don't have is stability; City has new shows six out of seven nights, 13 news shows in all on their fall schedule. Dunlop said the new American shows were the best imports he'd seen in 10 years of LA screenings and the time was right to spend big or go home. Rogers did both. There was talk that the New York-based drama Person of Interest was the highest testing show at CBS in years; it is from God (J.J. Abrams) and stars Jesus (Jim Caviezel).
It was also announced that Rogers plans to launch a new all news service--the CityNews Channel. The Rogers dudes lost CP24 in that whole CHUM/City swaparoo a few years ago and had probably noticed that Bell has been letting the service slip. They'll throw their 680News radio resources as well as the CityNews and Breakfast Television talent behind it. This is bad news for the folks behind Sun News Network, who probably can kiss even those Dr. Ho ads goodbye.
There was a lot of talk about "fully intergrated" synergy at the Rogers deal, with talent from the media giant's sports radio stations like Bob McCown standing on stage next to Maclean's editor Andrew Coyne next to the Blue Jay's mascot. They all looked a little awkward and uncomfortable, especially the mascot.
Global's got their upfront in Toronto Tuesday. They have a hard act to follow.

CITY'S 2011-12 SCHEDULE (subject to change; new shows in yellow):

8-9pm – Terra Nova (s-FOX)
9-9:30pm – How I Met Your Mother
9:30-10pm – 2 Broke Girls (above)
10-11pm – The Playboy Club (s-NBC)

7-9 pm – The Biggest Loser (NBC)
9-9:30pm – New Girl (s-FOX)
9:30-10pm – Raising Hope (s-FOX) **NEW to Citytv**
10-11pm – Body of Proof (s-ABC)

8-8:30pm – The Middle (s-ABC)
8:30-9pm – Suburgatory (s-ABC)
9-9:30pm – Modern Family (s-ABC)
9:30-10pm – Happy Endings (s-ABC)
10-11pm – Revenge (s-ABC)

8-8:30pm – Community (s-NBC)
8:30-9pm – Parks and Recreation(s-NBC)
9-10pm – Person of Interest (s-CBS)
10-11pm – Private Practice (s-ABC) 

8-9pm – Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (s-ABC)
9-10pm – Fringe (s-FOX)

8-8:30pm – Rules of Engagement (s-CBS)
8:30-9pm –Dussault Inc. 
9-11pm – Canadian Movie

7-7:30pm– Last Man Standing
7:30-8pm – The Quon Dynasty/Extraordinary Canadians
8-9pm – Beyond Survival
9-10pm – Murdoch Mysteries

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Business as usual for big spending Canadian nets

ABC's Pan Am: cleared for landing at CTV next fall
Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have already spilled some details as to who bought what in the annual Can-Am cash for content exchange. This year, Canadian show buyers from Bell/CTV, Shaw/Global, Rogers/City and others agreed to play nice and actually wait until they screened everything before bidding on any shows. In the past this thing has played out like a bunch of parents fighting over the latest copy of Call of Duty's Notorious. Either that or prior to even landing in L.A., network execs had sewn up secret nudge wink handshake deals for a season full of goodies from Fox, Disney, Warners or whoever.
Not so much this year. Nothing happened until last Saturday at 10 a.m. Then the bidding wars began.
When the smoke cleared, CTV had cherry picked the few biggies it needed for its still dominant schedule: retro sky drama Pan Am (featuring Christina Ricci, fourth from left above), Darren Star's G.C.B. ("Good Christian Bitches," starring Leslie Bibb abd Annie Potts), new NBC comedy Whitney (starring comedienne Whitney Cummings) and close to sure thing The X Factor. Rogers--weeks after crying poor (again) to the CRTC in Ottawa--threw tons of moola at long time Global suppliers Warners and Fox and came away with the greatest number of shows, including ABC's Revenge, starring Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters). Global, we hear, did not overspend.
CBS's The Fugitive: did not run
This might not be a bad thing. Every season is a crap shoot and the shows that are supposed to be the next big thing often blow up in a Canadian show buyers face. A remake of The Fugitive? Can't miss. Aaron Sorkin's new Studio 60 with Matt Perry? Buy everything Warners has to get it. The Event? Sure to be the next Lost.
Then there are the little sleeper shows that turn out to be monster hits. Only one guy at CTV saw any potential in The Big Bang Theory and he had to talk his higher ups into buying it.
So far it is way too early to tell if 2011-12 will be a bumper year like two years ago, when rookies Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife and NCIS: Los Angeles became instant hits--or last season when Lonestar, Chase, Undercovers, The Whole Truth and Outlaw were all pretty much DOA.
 Here's all you need to know about last season: Mike & Molly was the No. 1 new comedy and Raising Hope the No. 1 new comedy in the younger demos. The No. 1 new comedy in Canada? S#*! My Dad Says, a show CBS canceled.
So Global show buyers, led by EVP Barb Williams--the most experienced hand heading into this U.S. show market opposite the new suits from Rogers and Bell--may eventually look smart for not overspending. On the other hand, what's she going to plug into Thursday, Friday and Sunday?
Just one of the questions to be answered next week at the City upfront Monday, Global Tuesday and CTV Thursday, all in Toronto.

Idols Scotty and Oprah score big wins for CTV

New American Idol winner Scotty McCreery
Oprah Winfrey's grand finale drew an overnight, estimated 1.6 million viewers to CTV Wednesday in Canada, a record for the series according to the network. The daytime talk show drew two and a half times its season average Wednesday and was the second highest non-sports draw night or day on any network in Canada.
Oprah built to its conclusion with star-packed stadium showings Monday (1.33 million) and Tuesday (1.53 million). Wednesday's finale was a low key event, with Winfrey curing the lame and granting benediction to the faithful.
The one entertainment show to top Oprah Wednesday was the 10th season finale of American Idol. 3.4 million saw country crooner Scotty McCreery (left) crowned the winner. CTV says the audience was up 19% over last year's 2.9 million Idol finale.
Idol's finale still won't be the top-rated show of the week. Tuesday's double overtime win by the Vancouver Canucks over the San Jose Sharks scored 4.03 million CBC viewers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oprahpalooza: it all ends Wednesday

Is Oprah getting a ratings boost as her daytime talk show heads into Wednesday's finale? It is in the States where Monday's arena love-in drew the second-largest viewing audience of the season (beaten only by the show where she revealed that she had a secret half sister). In Canada on CTV Oprah's ratings were up slightly by the end of last week, inching close to 800,000 viewers. Good but not spectacular. The final three episodes should leap much higher this week.
A few TV critic colleagues have been asking if Oprah's Monday/Tuesday Chicago stadium shows weren't some sort of over-the-top ego trip but I think fans got the send off they expected. You wanted to see Oprah's superstar pals fawning all over her and hear people screaming. I'm just glad Aretha Franklin finally got to the end of that song. Would have liked to see Letterman fly in for a hug but you can't have everything.
For more on the ratings across Canada May 16 to 22 check out the weekly "Brioux Report" over at Toronto.com.
For more on Oprah's exit, tune in to CHCH's Evening News at Six for my Brampton bunker take on the talk show host's impact and legacy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Late night joke of the week

...from Friday's Jimmy Kimmel Live:

Arnold Schwarzenegger is putting his career on hold. Either that or he’s putting Korea on hold. It’s hard to understand him.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This week's podcast: Oprah, Hart & other exits

Dropped by the CHML nerve centre this week to chat in studio with Scott Thompson. We yakked about Oprah and how Lady Gaga topped her on that annual Forbes list.
Oprah's not the only big name leaving the TV scene. Mary Hart has been flashing her million-dollar legs on Entertainment Tonight for more than a quarter century. The show has spawned countless imitators, but Hart kept things bright and cheery while stepping over the tacky sleaze often headlined on tabloid shows. Met her once or twice over the years in LA and she seemed exactly who she was on the show, just darn nice. Her voice didn`t throw me into fits as it did in one reported case (spoofed on Seinfeld) all those years ago.
Another goodbye this week was over at the CBS News desk, where Katie Couric is pulling anchor. Couric held the gig nearly five years and had no impact whatsoever, except for that time she pissed off Sarah Palin.
A more stunning departure has to be Dick Ebersol's. News broke yesterday that the NBC executive was knocked off his lofty sport perch. Ebersol, who years ago ran Saturday Night Live while Lorne Michaels caught his breath, would work press tours via satellite and shot from the hip, lashing out at critics and even members of his own network. He sandbagged Conan O'Brien during the whole Leno thing, calling the late night talk show host "gutless" and "an utter failure."
Ebersole was Old School, a throwback to programming execs like Don Olmeyer, someone David Letterman once dismissed as all "cuff links and cocktails." He didn`t dress the part--Ebersol always looked like he just walked off the tennis court--but he operated like a big spender. His MO was he would overspend for big ticket sporting events like the Olympics, keeping NBC in that game as the network threw all their resources behind these blockbuster events. The Vancouver Winter Olympics, where NBC reportedly lost more than $223 million, was his undoing, just as it had repercussions in the executive suites at CTV in Canada. With Cable company bean counters in charge of both networks, the old buy high, sell low days of ratings at any cost are over. Read more about Ebersol's departure in this succinct summary in New York magazine. Listen in on the lengthier than usual CHML podcast here and here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Upfronts 2011-12: CBS's Two and a Half Moves

CBS Men Cryer, Jones and Kutcher: Winning?
Aside from the showy move of parachuting Ashton Kutcher into Two and a Half Men, CBS seemed to play it safe Wednesday, announcing a fairly stand pat schedule. Only five fall shows were added to America's most-watched schedule, and none seemed to reach past the tried and true CBS formula: procedural crime dramas and buddy sitcoms."Have you noticed how all CBS hours only involve either cops, lawyers or some sort of super-natural trick? Talk about formula," says a TVFMF insider who has seen the new offerings.
Case in point: A Gifted Man, a new drama starring Patrick Wilson as, in CBS's words, "a charismatic, ultra-motivated surgeon whose life changes forever when his deceased ex-wife, Anna (Jennifer Ehle), begins teaching him the meaning of life from the hereafter."
Exhibit Two: Unforgettable, a new Tuesday drama starring Poppy Montgomery--one of those performers CBS tries to build a show around every two years--as "an enigmatic former detective with a rare condition that makes her able to recall every place, every conversation, every moment of joy and every heartbreak in her life."
Exhibit Three: Person of Interest, a new crime drama from J.J. Abrams about "a presumed dead former-CIA agent who teams up with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes by using state-of-the-art technology and their own brand of vigilante justice." James Caviezel (above) and Michael Emerson star and that's the key at CBS--casting. Finding the right A-List actor to carry a show, even if it takes two or three shows to pull it together, as it did with Simon Baker before The Mentalist or Alex O'Loughlin before Hawaii FIVE-0.
Broke Girls Dennings and Behrs
The two comedies are 2 Broke Girls (Mondays), starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs as a street-smart lass and a former trust fund princess who are down to waitressing at a greasy spoon diner and How to be a Gentleman (Thursdays), another Odd Couple comedy about an uptight columnist (David Hornsby) and a wise guy fitness trainer (Entourage's Kevin Dillon).
CBS made room by junking two shows that did well on CTV this season, S#*! My Dad Says and The Defenders and by moving Undercover Boss to mid-season. CSI (Wednesdays at 10) and The Good Wife (Sundays at 9--does CBS smell desperation on ABC's Desperate Housewives?) are both smart moves.
CBS also has The 2-2 for mid-season, a new cop show from executive producer Robert De Niro which sounds like NYPD Rookie Blue.

So where are the weekly ratings again?

The Vancouver Canucks (3.5 mil vs. Sharks Sunday), The Big Bang Theory and Boston Rob's victorious swan song on Survivor: Redemption Island (2,920,000 viewers on Global) made the Top 3 shows in Canada last week according to overnight estimates. There was good news, too, for Flashpoint, Doctor Who and Canada's Worst Handyman. Check out the complete weekly ratings picture where it always is each week: The Brioux Report now located here at Toronto.com.

Today @ 5:30 on Square Off: Adios Oprah

Tune in to CHCH Wednesday at 5:30 ET as TV Feeds My Family drops in on my old pals Mark Hebscher and Lawrence Diskin for another Square Off. Today's TV talk is about Oprah Winfrey. Apparently she's leaving her show. She could have given us some heads up.
Winfrey's last episode of her syndicated daytime talk show airs Wednesday, May 25. Plan your couch jumping party accordingly.
I share the soapbox today with Hamilton radio personality Sunni Genesco (from Sunni & Hayes in the morning) as well as Prof. Robert Thompson from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Thompson says Winfrey has had a huge impact on popular culture over the past 25 years--everybody knows that--but he does not expect her fame to last. Winfrey's media empire was built on this five-days-a-week phenomenon that is her daily talk show. Her impact was her relatability and her immediacy--the, "Did you see Oprah today?" factor. But once she walks away, Thompson figures her fame will walk too, much the way Johnny Carson's did. Carson was on television almost every night for 30 years, yet most people under 30 today, if they know him at all, know him through some vague reference on The Simpsons.
Lucille Ball, suggests Thompson, was well known decades after I Love Lucy went off the air, thanks to the constant rerunning of her sitcoms. With Winfrey, you see it once and throw it away--there are no reruns. He points out the main reason most people know Jimmy Stewart today is thanks to the constant Christmas showings of It's a Wonderful Life. The same could be said for Dick Van Dyke. Some of us still love every second of his '60s sitcom, but the reason he is out there at 85 making the rounds to promote his new autobiography (My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business) is because every Boomer and their children and now grandchildren grew up seeing him as Bert the Chimney sweep in Mary Poppins.
Winfrey could sustain a level of fame once she returns to TV with her own show on her OWN network. That won't be until 2012, and even then it will only air three times a week.
The other slide factor with Winfrey is with her demos. Her audience has aged along with the 57-year-old talk show host. She's your mother's girlfriend. Tellingly, the latest Forbes list of the rich and powerful was just released and Winfrey was replaced as the most powerful women in show business--by Lady Gaga.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New player Netflix rocks Can-Am show hustle

Remember all that talk of broken business models, junking stations and fading to black unless Ottawa forces big cable to Save Local TV? Seems so quaint, so very 2009, doesn`t it now?
Well screw the CRTC. Canadian TV executives--who now work for Canadian cable companies--are once again in LA with freshly filled bags of money to throw at Warners, Disney, Paramount, Fox and Universal.
Tuesdays stop was at ABC/Disney, which saw little action from Canadian show buyers last year. This year, the Mouse House has some buzz-worthy shows, including the Mad Men-ish stewardess romp Pan Am, a remake of Charlie`s Angels and Last Man Standing, a new comedy starring Tim Allen. Their female skewing lineup will be like crack for CTV, where Desperate Housewives is down to its last barrel of Botox.
Angels! Get away from that Netflix buyer!
On a cold and rainy day in LA, the Bell/CTV posse was spotted stepping out of giant black SUVs en route to Tuesdays ABC screenings. Forget talk of austerity now that the so-called bean counters are in charge--Bell has a team of 10+ working the TV market according to TVFMF`s spies in LA correspondents. Compare that to the lean, mean, Shaw/Global gang of four. The four Rogers/Citytv show buyers also arrived in style in a black SUV, but at least they were driving it themselves.
All the traditional Canadian network buyers are apparently having fits that the Americans let a new player into the room--Netflix. The Netflix show buying hottie is turning heads for several reasons. The big beef is that the video on-demand service gets a free ride--no office in LA, no benefits to pay into the Canadian system, no taxes. Why isn`t the CRTC doing something about this!! There outta be a law to keep these interlopers in check. What kind of world is it where these shifty weasels can buy all the American fare they want, jam it all into their schedules shoving Canadian content into off season ghettos and laugh in the face of the CRTC? Why those dirty, lousy, con arti...uh, er...oh yeah. Never mind.
The old guard has reason to be freaking out at Netflix reaching into their till. In the short time they`ve been operating in Canada--since September--the service has already amassed 800,000 subscribers, accounting for about 10 percent of the country’s broadband subscribers. Are they going to get first peek at Pan Am?

Upfronts 2011-12: New Girl Zooey Fox party fave

Fox is betting you're going to fall in love with their New Girl this fall, Zooey Deschanel. The clip they showed at Monday's upfront--which we'd love to embed here but it is geoblocked to Canada--got a great response from advertisers. The pilot shows a girl dumped by her boyfriend who needs an apartment and winds up sharing a pad with three dudes. She`s odd but loveable. If you've seen (500) Days of Summer, you already know Deschanel (above left with Fox Chairman Peter Rice) can be a quirky, intriguing and quite winning presence. She's also the kid sister of Bones star Emily Deschanel, a fact exploited for a joke Monday at the ad launch. Fox president Kevin Reilly quipped it was time to move on to other shows since there are no more Deschanel sisters.
The Fox party, held at Manhattan's Citrus Restuarant, brought out the network's stars, including Glee's Jane Lynch, once again working the track suit and bullhorn as she ripped through the new fall lineup. She was joined on stage at one point by several Glee cast members, including Matthew Morrison, Jayma Mays and Cory Monteith. Darren Criss and rival glee clubbers The Warblers also sang.
There were also stage appearances by new X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Cheryl Cole, with Cowell and Abdul's old American Idol buddy Randy Jackson joining them on stage. Wrong show dawg, cracked Cowell.
Abdul and Cowell compare mascara
These upfront used to be very locked down, industry-only affairs, but in this age of insatiable social media networks have thrown the doors open to the world in hopes of stirring up some advance buzz for their future shows. ABC is live streaming their presentation Tuesday at 4 p.m. on their media web site, which should be a treat just to see what Jimmy Kimmel has to say. The late night host has savaged his own network at past upfronts, delighting advertisers by biting the hand that feeds.
The TV industry is also in a partying mood after a few lean years where ad revenues were hammered down due to the recession. That doesn't seem to be the case this year as even austere NBC has jumped back into the ballyhoo bandwagon.
The Glee cast try to distract advertisers from the fact that the show now sucks

Monday, May 16, 2011

Upfronts 2011-12: MacFarlane hits Bedrock

There is a lot of "Yabba dabba don't" in the Twittersphere greeting news that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has been given the green light to reboot The Flintstones. Word broke first on Deadline and Fox president Kevin Reilly made it official Monday in New York at the network upfront.
The new animated series will go into production soon and be ready for 2013, Reilly told advertisers. MacFarlane has been a Flintstones fan for years, saying they were one of his earliest inspirations.
The Flintstones premiered over 50 years ago in the fall of 1960 as TV's first prime time animated comedy. MacFarlane says he plans to update the series with cell phone and iPad gags. I'm guessing he'll voice Fred; he's half way there already as Peter Griffin.
Years ago I interviewed Joe Barbera in his office at Hanna-Barbera Studios at the foot of Universal Studios in Los Angeles. At one time, H-B owned Saturday mornings, airing hit shows on all networks.
Now Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and even that studio are gone. (Although The Smurfs, one of their creations, are back in theatres this summer.)MacFarlane had to pry the modern stone age family away from current rights holders, Warner Bros., who are partnering with Fox on this venture.
MacFarlane's Sunday animated comedies Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show were recently renewed for 10th, 7th and 4th seasons. Think about that--American Dad has been on one season longer than the original Flintstones run, or, uh, six years longer than Outsourced. Why, God, why?

Upfronts 2011-12: Trump fires self as prez

Remember all that nonsense about Donald Trump running for president? The Donald put the rumours to rest today in New York at NBC's annual upfront for advertisers, officially declaring himself out of the race. "I will not be running for President, as much as I'd like to," he told the crowd gathered at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan. Instead, he will continue on with the Celebrity Apprentice. "We’ve raised tens of millions of dollars for charity. We’ve never raised so much as we have in the last season." He said the NBC brass begged him to forget about war with China and stick with his Mark Burnett-produced reality series, which is heading into a 12th edition. He made no mention of geting undressed by Obama and "Weekend Update" anchor Seth Myers at the recent correspondent's dinner in Washington.
Besides, why waste hair teasing time taking calls from goofballs like Stephen Harper and that guy in England when you could be hanging with Busey and Meatloaf? "We're going to continue making lots and lots of money for charity," says Trump.
Comedians have already started goofing on Trump's decision. "The nation’s comedians took to the streets today, begging Mr. Trump to reconsider," joked Andy Borowitz on The Borowitz Report. "A huge roar came up from the crowd when Mr. Trump made a brief appearance, reassuring the comedians that he would continue to be a laughingstock in the private sector."
The season finale of The Celebrity Apprentice, down to the cowboy and Marlee Matlin, airs Sunday on NBC and Global.

Upfronts 2011-12: Global`s got NBC`s The Firm

Global is teaming with NBC on another one of those cross border crime dramas. The Firm, from Entertainment One (Rookie Blue), is an update of the John Grisham best seller. No cast has been announced yet for the 2011-12 mid-season drama, but it will be shot in Toronto so presumably there`ll be some Canucks. Here`s Grisham with an overview.

The story will pick up 10 years from the Tom Cruise movie, with crusading lawyer Mitchell McDeere trying to rebuild his life. Alyson Feltes (The Associates, Shattered) joins the team of executive producers which is headed by Lukas Reiter (The Practice).
The Firm likely won`t premiere until sometime in 2012. Besides Rookie Blue (back in June), Global has Combat Hospital (originally titled The Hot Zone) on its cross border docket. Co-produced by Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., the ABC summer series has been described as ER set in Afghanistan. Elias Koteas and Michelle Borth star.
A similar medical drama, Off The Map (which starred two Canadians), has already come and gone in mid-season.
With Flashpoint back on CBS Fridays (replacing quickly yanked Chaos) this summer is shaping up to be another U.S. network showcase for Toronto-lensed shows.

Upfronts 2011-12: Fox set to win an eighth straight year with X Factor, Terra Nova, Kiefer and Zooey

Zooey Deschannel stars as the New Girl on Fox
Did you know Raising Hope was the No. 1 new scripted U.S. network series among young adults? That was one of the tidbits thrown out during Fox's conference call with critics Monday morning. The network, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next spring, is on a big fat roll. This is the seventh year in a row they will have topped the ratings among 18-49-year-olds--a streak Fox claims has never been equaled, although NBC sure had a hell of a ride in the '80s.
This winning streak is likely to continue in 2011-12 with the launch of The X-Factor, Simon Cowell's new talent opera. Fox execs Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly told critics X-Factor is already breaking records as folks line up for auditions this spring.
Fox has brought a couple of young stars from film over to their network, including Jona Hill, who is voicing and writing the new mid-season animated series Allen Gregory. The animated comedy (left) is about a home schooled kid heading to high school. and Zooey Deschannel in New Girl (about a teacher who moves in with three dudes). Fox also has a Napoleon Dynamite animated series set to launch in January. This cult classic has multi-generational appeal," Reilly told critics on the line Monday morning.
The big show this fall is the one reality newcomer, The X Factor. Simon Cowell's return is probably the most anticipated premiere of the fall. Rice and Reilly says auditions for the new series have outdrawn Idol.
As for Idol, all the judges are on multi-year contracts and will be back--except Jennifer Lopez. She's on a single year contract. Reilly says talks are on to try and pull her back for another year.
Another Fox favourite will return but not until mid-season or later--Kiefer Sutherland will shoot the pilot for Touch--written and directed by Tim Kring--in June. The drama will be about a father and his son with special powers or observation. The pilot delay is to accommodate Sutherland, who soon ends his run on Broadway in That Championship Season (which my son Daniel saw on Broadway last week. He gives it a big thumbs up, especially after scoring Sutherland's autograph).
Reilly says yes, Terra Nova, the delayed sci-fi opus from Steven Spielberg, will proceed as planned this fall. A new show from J.J. Abrams, Alcatraz, is also set to launch in September, as is The Finder, a spin off from Bones.
Jamie Pressly (third from left) returns in the comedy I Hate My Teenage Daughter, which will sneak on next March when Glee takes a six week break. Fox is looking art five comedies to squeeze into a two hour comedy black, with other hopefuls starring Mike O`Malley (Glee) and Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine).
Fox does have one headache on the horizon, but so does everybody else--a possible NFL strike.
“We're planning for there to be an NFL season and at the same time working on contingencies if there is not,says Rice.
After 24 seasons, the network has canceled their oldest series--America's Most Wanted--although they`re bringing it back as a series of four two-hour specials. “We have not made money on the show in quite a while,says Reilly. Four new two-hour AMW specials will air in 2011-12. There‘s also some talk the series could continue weekly over on Fox-owned MyNetworkTV.
Fox saved Fringe but gave up on Human Target, The Chicago Code and Lie to Me. Last fall was not a bumper or a Modern Family year, agrees Reilly, happy to return two first year comedies. NBC left all seven of their 2010-11 shows in the dustbin.
As for talk of a 24 movie, it will happen says Lee, suggesting the script just isn‘t there yet. “There`s a great desire to see Jack Bauer on the big screen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Upfronts 2011-12: The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect and Grimm add drama to NBC

NBC UPFRONT PART TWO: Still smarting from that whole Leno at 10 fiasco, NBC has plenty of problems with the back end of its schedule. New dramas Chase and The Event were rejected last season. Friday Night Lights is no more. The whole Law & Order franchise seems to be on its last legs.Among the new hopefuls announced Sunday is Prime Suspect, a reversioning of the long-running British hit. Maria Bello steps into the Helen Mirren role. "It's about characters. It's about life," says Bello:

Let's hope this is better than the Yankee version of Cracker tried several years ago.
Mondays at 10, NBC is adding a little sex with The Playboy Club, a drama about the roots of the famous key clubs which originated in Chicago in the '60s. Here's Hef, still in his jammies, with an overview:

David Krumholtz (Numb3rs) plays the club manager; Eddie Cibrian (CSI: Miami) plays a Chicago lawyer with a thing for the bunnies. NBC is clearly trying to tap into that Rat Pack, Mad Men vibe.
Feeling that there just aren't enough trolls on TV? Even with the addition of Sun News? Well, happy days. NBC has Grimm, a creepy new supernatural series starring David Guintoli as a homicide detective who has some friends who are just animals:

Upfronts 2011-12: Messing, McPhee, Arnett and Applegate in on NBC's new dozen

NBC prepares to host its upfront to advertisers in New York
NBC got a jump start on upfront season by spilling their new 2011-12 schedule on Sunday. Gone are bubble shows Outsourced (a TVFMF favourite) and The Defenders. Back for a final 13-episode fall arc is a show you can't kill with a stick, Chuck.
NBC did a pretty aggressive makeover, ordering six new comedies and six new dramas. The full details are here at the NBC release, out a day before Monday's actual upfront in New York. There was a lot of talk about NBC ordering a new version of Wonder Woman but the Peacock network passed on that. It may not be dead dead; CBS took a couple of pilot seasons before their remake of Hawaii FIVE-0 cracked the schedule.
Among the new offerings is Up All Night, a new comedy starring Toronto-native Will Arnett and Christine Applegate as new parents. SNL and Bridesmaids player Mya Rudolph is also in the cast. Here's Arnett setting in up with a clip:

Arnett seems dialed way back in this from his Running Wild misfire. With young kids at home, Up All Night seems closer to Arnett's own home life.
Also new this fall for NBC is Smash, a Broadway-themed series already getting some buzz. Debra Messing stars as part of a Broadway team working on a musical about Marilyn Monroe. Angelica Huston is also in the cast, with American Idol alumni Katharine McPhee cast as a Broadway rookie looking for her big break:

It all appears very Glee-full.
There's a mid-season comedy starring former That '70s Show red head Laura Prepon in Are There There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. It's based on the semi-autobiographical book by Chelsea Handler, although they've kind made it a new thing as Prepon describes:

Get on the bus with the Freedom Riders Monday

The world was very black and white in 1961. Images of people on TV were still broadcast that way, with colour TV sets a decade away for most consumers. Society, too, was still very black and white to the point of de facto—if no longer legal--segregation in much of the Southern United States. Signs declaring “Whites Only” and “Black Entrance” were still up and enforced at bus shelters and lunch counters, relics of entrenched Jim Crow conventions. Into the heart of that very black and white world rode the Freedom Riders.Their heroic story is told in the black and white images of the day in Freedom Riders, an American Experience documentary premiering Monday May 16 on most PBS stations (check affiliate listings in your area).
The two hour broadcast, from award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (“Wounded Knee,” “Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple”), tells the story of 400 black and white Americans—and one Canadian—who 50 years ago risked their lives simply by riding public transit buses into the deep south. The film is partially based on Raymond Arsenault's book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.
The film shows how this citizen's uprising was a key factor in the push for civil rights. The new Kennedy White House was at first cool to the demonstration and tried to discourage what they saw as a provocative act. Even Martin Luther King declined to get on the bus. The Freedom Riders drove the pace car in a decade of powerful political and social change.
Oprah Winfrey reunited 178 of the Freedom Riders on her show earlier this month. The reunion was quite moving, with protest songs coming back to the assembled like 50 years ago was yesterday. These ordinary citizens, who rode buses which drove from Chicago into the deep south, put their lives at risk. Klansmen set fire to one bus in Alabama. Three hundred protesters were later hauled off their buses and imprisoned in a move that brought international attention to their cause.
A few of the original riders were at the most recent TCA press tour in Pasadena last January, and I asked Joan Mulholland if she thought today's university students would get off Facebook long enough to get on the bus.
"Yeah, I think they would," said Mulholland, just 19 in 1961 when she made her courageous freedom ride. "If something came that sparked them."
Joan Mulholland, busted for getting on the bus
She pointed to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential election campaign was something that mobilized young people to a certain extent. Not long after her comments, uprisings in Egypt and Libya gave vivid proof that people are still ready to rise up and put themselves at risk for a cause. Recent voting mobs at college campuses across Canada during the federal election also suggest a mood of activism is stirring among youth in North America.
Mulholland reminded me her generation was dismissed as, in her words, pampered airheads who "don't understand The Depression, and World War II and rationing. And they just are thinking about the dance and this and that," she said.
Yet the cause of ending segregation sparked a sense of urgency, "and I think it could happen again." says Mulholland, who suggests a new generation of students "can learn from the way we did things and the ideas that we had can give them some clues on how to deal with whatever they decide to face."
For more on the Freedom Riders and Monday's PBS American Experience special, jump to this story I wrote for The Canadian Press.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Late night joke of the week

...from Thursday's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:

A Dairy Queen in Canada broke a world record this week by creating a 10-ton ice cream dessert. Or as we call that in America, “a medium.”

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ratings across Canada now up at toronto.com

Looking for the numbers for the week of May 2 to 8? There are up here at Toronto.com, including overnight, estimated audience results for everything from The Big Bang Theory (Canada`s top show at over 3 million viewers) and Sunday`s finale of The Amazing Race to shows such as Endgame, Wipeout Canada, The Borgias and Canadian Pickers. You`ll also see that the Stanley Cup ratings are down in round two from round one, although Canuck games continue to draw.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

They shoot, they score in Chester’s studio rink

HALIFAX, N.S.--Turn a remote local hockey arena into a TV soundstage? Only in Canada.
You have to be resourceful to begin with when it comes to cranking out TV shows in the land of low licence fees and perennial under funding. Even in large urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver, cheap rent stealth studios can be found in suburban neighbourhoods, deep inside retro-fitted factories and warehouses.
The prize for the most Canadian TV studio has to go to the Eleanor Pew Morris Memorial Arena in picturesque Chester, Nova Scotia, home for a second season to Haven (returning July 18 on Showcase) There are two ice pads at the arena, but for the past few years no ice--just wooden sets, lights and cameras penned in by the boards and glass.
The supernatural procedural returns for a second season July 18 on Showcase and around the same time Stateside on SyFy. It also airs in dozens of other countries around the world as the cast discovered during promotional stops in Madrid and London during the past year.
Few viewers would suspect that much of what they are watching on Haven originates inside a hockey rink. Look up in the rafters and there are banners proclaiming winning seasons for Chester's Pee-wee and Atom hockey teams. There's a sign advertising skate sharpening for four dollars. Along the floor, large yellow ducts funnel warm air into the main set areas (needed after three weeks of cold, rainy weather), including the main police station set where stars Emily Rose and Lucas Byrant were shooting scenes Tuesday. A truck load of journalists got to sit in and observe and were treated like family by the cast and crew. Even the food served by the local craft services people was pure comfort food--Shake ’n Bake chicken.
A scene was rehearsed and Lucas improvises by saying the murder victim was none other than Toronto Star TV critic Rob Salem--who was sitting behind the director’s monitors about 30 feet away.
You can’t help but wonder if the fine people of Chester dont miss their rink, although a few seasons of TV money can buy a lot of ice pad upgrades. The cast live right in town and have bonded with the locals, with Haven wild man Eric Balfour rocking the town by DJ-ing a rockin’ party a few weeks ago. He’s booked to do more, so if you’re in Chester, look him up.
One of two Chester ice pads converted into a home for Haven

Jason Priestley seeks Haven in Halifax

HALIFAX, N.S.--You can count Jason Priestley out of the Two and a Half Men sweepstakes.
"I'm booked," says the busy actor/director. His TMN/Movie Central series Call Me Fitz has wrapped production on a second season and he's busy shooting four episodes of Haven, which returns for a second season on Showcase July 18.
Priestley says he knows Charlie Sheen well, having sat in on poker games with the man many times over the years. (Who did most of the #WINNING? Priestley says he won his share.) He says Sheen is one funny dude and is one of those who still expects Sheen to magically reappear when the series eventually finds its way back onto the CBS schedule. "The ratings would be through the roof," he remarks.
Priestley is having a ball playing the son of the mayor on Haven, a role written for him by executive producer Shawn Piller. Piller wanted Priestley to join Haven for a number of reasons, not the least of which was Fitz and Haven share the same crews and everybody loves working with Priestley. Another reason--fate. Several years ago, Piller was renting a place out in Vancouver. A Mr. Priestley used to come around once a month to collect the rent. Piller started getting all these phone messaged for some guy named "Jason," wishing him well after his car accident. He put two and two together and figured out he was renting Jason Priestley's house and didn't even know it!
The kicker to the story: the tenant one floor below also had a TV show--executive producer Chris Carter from The X-Files. According to Piller, Priestley and his pals used to relief thenselves off the balcony into Mr. Carter's garden below. Used to piss the X-man off, literally.
Priestley sounds like he's settled down from those carefree B.C. days. Having a 1 1/2 and three year old at home tends to settle a guy down. As for Haven, Priestley says he`s having a blast hanging with chummy co-stars Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant and Eric Balfour. Priestley`s also scheduled to direct this season`s eighth episode.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

S#*! sells in Canada, not so much in America

Canada is more into S#*!, or at least S#*! My Dad Says.
The William Shatner comedy has struggled on CBS and is one of those "bubble shows" that may not be back next season. Yet in Canada on CTV, it soared prospering behind the No. 1 TV show in the nation, The Big Bang Theory. CTV gets a bigger bang out of Big Bang, and also scores with S#*!
The bad news for CTV is that despite their very successful marketing and scheduling, several of their well-placed imports may not be back next season. The U.S. networks will announce their fall schedules at their annual upfronts in New York next week and there's a good chance S#*! My Dad Says and The Defenders won't be among the shows renewed for next season. Another series that did very well on CTV on Fridays this season--Blue Bloods--may also be in jeopardy.
Here's a link to a story I wrote last week for The Canadian Press running down a full list of bubble shows, including perennial maybe Chuck. There's also some speculation as to what new shows might get picked up for fall, including pilots starring Kiefer Sutherland, Debra Messing, Tim Allen and Minnie Driver.

Monday, May 9, 2011

CTV's Cancon summer comin' 'atcha

Summertime and the living is...Canadian.
Off to Halifax to visit the set of Haven, which returns in July for a second season. The Showcase series got a second window on Global Friday nights this spring. That second window just opened for The Borgias, a Showtime/Bravo! drama starring Jeremy Irons. The shot-in-Hungary historical drama will premiere Tues. June 21 at 10 p.m. on CTV and run all summer long. Showtime has already renewed the $40M first season series in the States.
Those with long memories may recall Dan for Mayor and Hiccups. The two comedies finally return to CTV with summer runs. CTV is airing them Sundays as part of a summer block beginning June 5 (Hiccups actually bows Monday June 6 then moves to Sunday the following week--that's why it's called hiccups). CTV plans to book Dan and Hiccups around new episodes of Hot in Cleveland and reruns of Big Bang Theory. New episodes of Flashpoint also begin a summer run starting June 17. 
The return of So You Think You Can Dance Canada is also booked for June 20. And the 47th season of Comedy Now! begins June 4. Don't say you weren't warned!
With Global's Rookie Blue also returning in June Canadians will get 10 or 12 whole weeks to see shows shot in this country before it all gets smothered by a deep layer of U.S. simulcasts.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Column of the week I wish I'd written

Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter sure hits the nail on the head with this one: "Five Not Very Good Ideas in Television." "Mr. Crankypants," as he was known to his San Francisco Chronicle readers, argues that rebooting Two and a Half Men without Charlie Sheen is a bad idea and also suggests we should lock up The Office and throw away the key now that Steve Carell is adios. Anyone who watched the unfunny post-Carell Office episode this week, featuring the last of Will Ferrell, would have to agree. The series has been shedding viewers for years, especially in Canada, where it draws surprisingly low numbers on Global. As Goodman writes, "there’s no reason to be the final season of Scrubs. Nobody needs to be that. Come on. The money’s been mined. Syndication is in place. Opt for dignity. Think about the legacy."
Speaking of which, has Oprah overextended her brand? It was announced today that the boss at Discovery Communications--the company that put $140 million into the OWN launch--has been brought in to run the new Oprah network. Peter Liguori has been named the Interim Chief Executive Officer, replacing Christine Norman, gone less than five months after OWN launched (and less than two months after it launched in Canada). Everything's very cordial in today's OWN press release, but according to the New York Times, the decision to sack Norman came a few weeks ago by the OWN board, dissatisfied with ratings at the fledgling specialty channel. After a highly publicized launch, OWN ratings Stateside have settled slightly higher than where they were when the channel was known as Discovery Health. The OWN board expected better.
Liguori is one savvy scheduler, having guided Fox to No. 1 network status among 18 to 49-year-olds before being bounced for not being related to Rupert Murdoch.
The OWN brand may get a boost this month with the launch of Why Not? with Shania Twain, which premieres Friday, May 13 at 9 p.m. Twain--usually more secluded than bin Laden--is working it, appearing on Marilyn Denis , George Stroumboulopoulos and Canada AM on Monday to promote the series as well as her new book.
Still, it seems Oprah viewers most want to see Oprah. Her daytime syndicated talk show signs off May 25. Her new, three times a week series for OWN, Oprah's Next Chapter, was to have launched this fall but Liguori now says it won't appear until 2012. Seems Oprah needs a break, and after 25 years, she's earned one. Still, without Oprah, OWN is just a whole lotta What Now?
A lack of audience hasn't stopped media companies from launching channels in Canada. Witness Sun News Network. With the election over and summer ahead, bring on the beachballs and Sunshine girls!
Ahoy: Disney Junior's Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Another channel launches today on specialty: Disney Junior brings the iconic family brand to Canada. This one is more of a re-boot, with Astral re-branding electronic babysitter Playhouse Disney under the new shingle. Classic Disney characters are part of the new mix, including Peter Pan baddie Captain Hook and Mr. Smee in Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Tori Spelling, Lisa Loeb and David Arquette are among the voice cast. Arquette better have sworn off the rum, or this Pirate tale will be rated "RRrrrrr."
Another show finds celebrity moms Katie Holmes and Jennifer Garner narrating poems to tots. If I'm three, I'd rather see The Big Comfy Couch Jumping Show with Tom Cruise. See, everything relates back to Oprah.
Disney Junior is up and running as of today and can be found on Rogers Cable in the GTA on Playhouse Disney's old channel 68.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Late Night joke(s) of the week

...goes to Jimmy Kimmel for these timely and typically irreverent gags from Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live:
As we speak, Osama bin Laden is living with SpongeBob in a pineapple under the sea.
He’s up to 2,000 friends on Shot-in-the-Facebook.
Some top Republicans are giving most of the credit for killing bin Laden to former President George W. Bush. It’s kind of like when someone opens a pickle jar and you say, “Well, I loosened it.”
Bin Laden was living in his compound with nine women and 23 children. It sounds like he was shooting a reality show for TLC.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ratings across Canada show Canucks in control

Go Canucks. That has to be the cry at CBC as Canada's team stays in the Stanley Cup playoff hunt. Vancouver games took two of the top three spots in the national prime time ratings the week of April 25 to May 1 as I report over at Toronto.com's "Remote Control" section. The team hit a high of 3,827,000 overnight, estimated viewers for their thrilling Game Seven victory over the Blackhawks, and drew another 3,236,000 for their Saturday tilt against Nashville.
Check out the full weekly ratings report here, which includes Royal Wedding numbers and the latest Canadian show tallies.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Election Night in Canada: le grande orange

What's blue and orange and not red all over?
Early in the night, before SUN News Network started posting results (they waited an extra half hour until 10p.m.ET!), Brian Lilley made a bold prediction: Conservatives would win 165 seats.
Note to self: get Lilley to help with NHL playoff pool picks next spring.
Monday’s election night coverage was almost as historic as the results. Long gone are the days when networks would start posting results as soon as polls closed in the East. In years past, majorities have been declared almost as soon as the show started.
It was interesting to see networks take a more cautious approach Monday night as the NDP “Orange Wave” swept conventional wisdom out with the Liberals.
Instead of predictions, CBC opened the night with a 30 minute in-house pep rally. There were shout outs from the Dragon’s Den millionaires (all practically salivating over the prospect of more corporate tax cuts), Rex Murphy giving kudos to Don Cherry and vice versa, even a bit from three 22 Minutes players. “They’ll be back next season,” reassured Peter Mansbridge. Good to see somebody left leaning is coming back for you.
The wide, clean, colourful CBC News set worked to great effect Monday night. Finally there was a reason for Mansbridge to be walking the floor. Rex Murphy here, Wendy Mesley there, the “At Issue” panel across the back, it was well laid out, well lit and well directed.

Mansbridge (right) with the "At Issue" panel

Evan Solomon and his telestrator, however, got old fast. Rick Mercer would have been more fun in this role, circling with more edge and wit.
Over on CTV, the election night layout looked more like a Wednesday afternoon in the Senate. One actual senator was on their desk—former CTV news anchor Pamela Wallin—but old guard Lloyd Robertson and Craig Oliver looked ready to be wheeled in.
Nice touch having Lloyd’s hair tinted with the Orange Wave as the night wore on, looks more natural than when it used to alternate between blue and red. There was something creepy, however, about the animated face icons CTV kept using on their leader board. It just screamed Fox Sports. You expected somebody to toss Layton a football.
CTV's coot meter started to explode by the time former PM Brian Mulroney was showcased well into the electioncast. Mulroney was all cozy in his book-paneled den, looking very Tommy Shanks. The CTV gang clamoured to kiss his ring, party like it was 1988, etc. “You still have your instincts sir,” gushed Bob Fife. Oliver asked The Great Man if he felt responsible for the Conservative success. Somewhere, Jean Chretien threw up in his mouth and then looked around for somebody to strangle.
Moments later on CBC, Amanda Lang topped that by reading a message, this time from a convicted felon, Conrad Black. The former publisher, sprung from the slammer, allowed that this night was a great step forward for the two party system in Canada.
Sun News now gets to have Darth Vader, Carrot Top, Morgana, anybody they want on as a political analyst. A free pass for at least a year.
Wait—Sun News had former TTC diddler Adam Giambone on their election night "Patriot Panel." Go back 3000 spaces.
Among the legitimate pundits, CBC`s Chantel Hebert nailed it left and right all night, predicting early Gilles Duceppe's Bloc would finish last in Quebec, making a crack about his "minor rump" and suggesting we were witnessing the "Socialcreditization" of his party. She early on observed Stephen Harper's vote splitting victory had all the makings of "a Jean Chretien majority."
Michael Ignatieff came out around 11:13 and made the most gracious concession speech of all time. Where was this guy the last five weeks? He offered "open hearted congratulations" to Harper despite all those tread marks up his ass after two solid years of didn’t come back for you character assassination.
CTV needlessly rubbed it in by throwing up a graphic declaring Iggy defeated in his own riding—right smack in the middle of this heartfelt, ennobling speech. They didn't hold back for you. Lloyd made amends later by noting that the moment was "gracious, eloquent, poetic at times." Even David Akin over at SUN suggested Liberals will now have four years to take a deep breath.
Duceppe spoke and, as Andrew Coyne remarked, good riddance. Layton spoke and some felt he was too uppity in his victory. Harper didn't take his grand moment until well past 1 a.m. in the east. His speech played to a packed, jubilant crowd and in a wide, cavernous Calgary arena—the optics were very U.S. presidential. The guy certainly knows his playbook.
Global also offered election night coverage.
Despite all the fuss in Canada, the federal election seems to have been lost in all the news south of the border. As Jimmy Kimmel quipped Monday night, "Between the death of bin Laden and the royal wedding, it’s an exciting time to be in the commemorative plate business."

Act now! Everything must go!

FOR SALE: Large, well-maintained, 10-storey television studios/office building located right in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district. Gently-used studios offer plenty of opportunities for multi-use possibilities: squash courts, bowling alleys, gun range. Comes with thousands of gently-used vice-president offices, all offering stunning view of the city. Current tenant promises to thoroughly clean atrium floor stained after hundreds jumped to their death on election night. Buy now and receive *FREE* autographed Don Cherry jackets. Cash only; contact Harper government (Inc.).