Monday, April 30, 2012

TONIGHT: The real Shaun Majumder stands up

I'm not sure every word is true in Shaun Majumder, Every Word is Absolutely True, but it sure feels that way. The 90-minute documentary premieres tonight at 7:30 p.m. on HBO Canada. 
The special is surprisingly moving, especially if you stick with it until the end. Majumder, 40, has always been a likable dude, very personable on the phone or in person. He's had this remarkable career, especially when you grasp the extend of his humble beginnings. While he's lived in Los Angeles for years, he is constantly flying between Toronto, L.A.and Halifax. He holds his hometown of Burlington, Nfld., with great affection and is developing a seaside property there he hopes one day will become a tourist destination. He was on his way there last week--a seven hour drive from St. John's--when I caught up with him on the phone for a feature for The Canadian Press. You can read that story here.
His "Majumder Mansion" will eventually be a travel lodge surrounded by an eco-garden. That development is being spun off into a 12-part series on the W Network, to premiere next January.
Majumder doesn't miss too many occasions to record his life as the documentary will reveal. Besides his day job on 22 Minutes--where he'll return next fall as that show begins its 20th season--he can also currently be seen playing a weasel-y lawyer in Global/NBC's The Firm. As well as all those Just For Laughs reruns, he also pops up as a guest star on Less Than Kind and Republic of Doyle
Every Word is Absolutely True follows him on a coast-to-coast stand up tour. There are plenty of snippets of his stage act, but the real reason to watch tonight is to see the parts in between. It's a nice glimpse of a busy guy finding himself on the road.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vote now to get comedy legends Phil Hartman, Dave Broadfoot into the Canadian Walk of Fame

Hartman was always pitch perfect on SNL
Should the late, great Phil Hartman be in Canada's Walk of Fame?
They sure think so over at SiriusXMCanada where all this month of April has been declared Phil Hartman month. Hartman's many hilarious comedy recordings have been in high rotation on the satellite station, especially on "Laugh Attack." (Listen to a Laugh Attack WOF pitch for Phil here.)
I  was always a big Phil Hartman fan, from his early work as Popeye-like Cap't Karl on Pee-wee's Playhouse through his glory days on Saturday Night Live. The best Simpsons episodes, in my opinion, always featured Hartman, so good there as smarmy attorney Lionel Hutz and has-been actor Troy McClure. The producers of The Simpsons, to their great credit, never featured those characters again after Hartman's tragic death in 1998, with his final appearance on the 10th season episode "Bart the Mother" ending with a dedication to the actor.
Lionel Hutz. A Troy McClure feature was in the works
Hartman was from Brantford, Ontario, living there until his family moved to California when he was 10. Trained as a graphic artist, he designed album covers for bands like Poco and America in the '70s. He got into improv comedy with The Groundlings, helped Paul Reubens develop Pee-wee and, after eight stellar seasons on SNL, eventually distinguished himself as a pretty good sitcom lead on NewsRadio.
In short, he was one of Canada's greatest comedy exports ever.
His brother, Paul Hartmann, has been lobbying since 2007 to get Phil inducted onto Canada's WOF and has a Facebook site dedicated to the cause. Plenty of people have rallied tot he cause, including Jerry Seinfeld and Will Ferrell. A member of Parliament even stood up and called for Hartman's induction in 2010.
If you want to see Hartman so enshrined, you can do something about it now. Go to the WOF site and nominate Phil Hartman for induction. It only takes a second and you can do it right here.
Russell Peters was inducted last year, Eric McCormack the year before that. Hell, Howie Mandel, the Kids in the Hall and Pamela Anderson are in the Canadian WOF and Hartman is not? There are significant parts of Anderson that aren't even Canadian!
  • Dave Broadfoot: you tell him he's not WOF worthy
Another guy missing, as Don Ferguson reminded me a few weeks ago, is the great Dave Broadfoot. Broadfoot was the original Canadian stand up star, traveling endlessly across Canada, creating memorable Canadian characters like Bobby Clobber, Sgt. Renfrew and the member for Kicking Horse Pass. Besides his long association with the Royal Canadian Air Farce, in radio and television, he dates back to appearances in Spring Thaw and The Ed Sullivan Show. As Rick Mercer so perfectly put it in this blurb on the back of Broadfoot's biography, "If the comedy business was a railroad, Dave drove the first spike and the last. The rest of us just road the rails."
I had the pleasure of interviewing Broadfoot last year for Air Farce: 40 Years of Flying by the Seat of Our Pants, and found him to be a sharp and savvy as ever. Check out this brief video clip of our conversation.
Now 86, Broadfoot deserves to take his proper place at the next WOF induction. So vote for Broadfoot as well as Hartman. You have a few days left to get both their names into the mix. Nominations close May 1.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U.S. Media calls Sun News "First Year Flop"

Not Sun News' morning man Pat Bolland
The Sun News Network celebrated its first anniversary April 18. I guess my party invite got lost in the mail.
The Quebecor venture lurched back onto the radar a few weeks ago when they were ringside for Justin Trudeau's "Thrilla on the Hilla" in Ottawa. Otherwise things have been unusually quiet over on what was once mega-hyped as "Fox News North."
A year to the day Sun News launched, a BBM Canada ratings report revealed that the station languishes well behind its cursed "State broadcaster" mortal enemy CBC News Network. BBM says it brings in only 0.1% of Canadian television viewers, compared to CBC NN (1.4%), CNN (0.9%) and CTV News Network (0.8%).
Funny, because, years ago, the station that used to occupy Sun News' old Toronto spot, channel 15, was called Toronto1, or "Toronto 0.1" by the ad sales guys. Plus ca change...
Sun News doesn't occupy channel 15 anymore, it's on numbers like 1531 on Bell Fibe TV, or channel 663 Eastlink, which is, well, why it is stuck at 0.1%.
The U.S.-based Media Matters for America has a story up on "The First Year Flop  of Fox News North." I'm quoted in it, along with a fella named John Doyle. You can read the entire story here.
Writer Alexander Zaitchik suggests the network is best known for its "club-and-grunt ambush interviews" as well as for morning show host "Pat Bolland's Rollie Fingers moustache."
Fingers was an ace reliever for the World Champion Oakland A's team of the early '70s--back when me and Bolland were students together at Michael Power High School in Etobicoke. I'm pretty sure he didn't have the 'stache back then.

Jimmy Fallon's Presidential coup

President Barack Obama Slow-Jammin' the news? Believe it. The "POTUS with the Mostest" guested Tuesday night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in a special episode taped at the University of North Carolina. Go 'Heels.
Not to be outdone, it was announced today in Ottawa that, all this week, Stephen Harper will be Slow-Jammin' his toast.

Question of the day: Why Whitney?

The folks at Bell sent me a letter the other day. Inside was a sales pitch which began with the words, "Enjoy many of the channels you really want, with HD channels always included."
It may have been a fine deal but I read no further having been scared off by the photo at the top of the letter: a still from the horrible NBC/CTV sitcom Whitney.
What the? Who the? Whitney is audience repellent. CTV moves it to a new night or bounces it over to CTV Two every other week. When it was following Big Bang, it drove away two million CTV viewers every Thursday night.
The thought that if I switched over to Bell I might have to watch Whitney sent a chill up my spine. I don't want to watch it in any definition, for free, PVR it or see it on stationary--and especially not bundled with the Internet for $68.34/month (for six months, reads the fine print). Who thought this was a way to lure customers?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TONIGHT: U.S. premiere of The L.A. Complex

Here’s a switch—an American network importing content from Canada.
Officials at The CW have high hopes for The L.A. Complex, a makin’-it-in-Hollywood drama from the producers of Degrassi. It makes its U.S. premiere tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.
“We loved it," says Thom Sherman, Head of Development at The CW. “It’s an authentic look at people trying to make it in Los Angeles. It was edgy and smart, funny and fresh, and it just felt like a show that belonged on our network.”
The CW was going to break this later this summer but officials there were so high on the series they moved up the premiere date.
Networks on both sides of the border are looking to reduce risk and share costs. The L.A. Complex seems like a good fit with that formula; now it just needs viewers to sign off on the deal.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case when the series premiered in January in Canada. It barely launched, sneaking under the radar on MuchMusic where it opened to 60,000 and slipped into the low 40s. A double pump of the pilot on main network CTV drew 351,000 in overnight estimates.
Critics Stateside seem taken with the series, which stars Cassie Steele (Degrassi), Jewel Staite (Firefly), Jonathan Patrick Moore, Joe Dinicol and Chelan Simmons. Enis Esmer (The Listener), Alan Thicke and Kate Todd are also part of the mix. The series was executive produced and directed by Martin Gero, who helmed the controversial Canadian feature Young People F--king
Andra Fuller has one of the most complex roles as Kaldrick, a gangsta rapper with a secret. It will be interesting to see how his storyline, which gets going in the second episode, plays in the States.
Critics Stateside seem taken with the first few episodes. "Turns out the route to get Melrose Place 2012 right starts not in Hollywood, but Toronto," wrote Variety. The series is shot on the same Epitome Pictures back lot that has been home to Degrassi these past 47 years.
MuchMusic announced earlier that an additional 13 episodes have been ordered, a move purely motivated to stoke tonight's U.S. launch. The good news with The CW is the bar is never set too high. About a million people in the States, for example, caught a new episode of 90210 last night.

The Brioux Report: Canucks exit impacts CBC

CBC and TSN were probably counting on long playoff runs from the mighty Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins. Now Sidney Crosby and the Sedin twins are out of the race for the Stanley Cup, and Southern teams such as Phoenix and Nashville are on to Round Two.
With Detroit also eliminated, and Ottawa do or die to stay in as Canada’s team, hitting three million-plus for another playoff audience is not going to be easy.
Oh well. At least The Amazing Race, Survivor and the other top reality shows still have a few weeks left to attract ratings and revenue. Resilient Race, in fact, was the No. 2 show for the week in Canada.
Here’s how all it all played out across Canada in prime time among adults 2+ the week of April 16 to 22 according to overnight estimates:

Maria Menounos bends over backwards to stay on Dancing with the Stars

CBC carried Stanley Cup Round One playoff games between the Rangers and Ottawa and Boston and Washington and all together that drew 2,255,000 Monday night.
A new Bones was a bonus for Global with 1,747,000 counted in the overnight estimates. A new House drew 1,724,000. Hawaii FIVE-0 was a repeat, hitting 1,002,000.
Dancing with the Stars on CTV Two (1,245,000) again beat The Voice on CTV (1,083,000) although Voice won the 25-54 demo. A new Castle followed on CTV with 1,700,000 viewers.
Smash is no smash on CTV Two (413,000).
City’s Canada’s Got Talent seems overwhelmed by the big reality guns on the other networks. Now at 9 p.m., the talent search series drew 270,000 for a 30-minute Semi-Final. How I met Your Mother opened City’s night at 8 (657,000) followed by 2 Broke Girls (651,000). Rules of Engagement did 168,000 at 9:30 and Showtime addition Shameless did 116,000 at 10.
TSN is finding its coverage of the St. Louis/San Jose series to be less of a draw, pulling 559,000 Monday night.
Score pinned 290,000 with WWE Raw. Bering Sea Gold (273,000) was the big draw at Discovery. Midsomer Murders killed on TVO (261,000). Canadian Pickers (243,000) seemed picked over at History. Top Chef Canada simmered to 230,000 on Food.

A losing contestant is consoled with a three-way on The Voice

There was Glee at Global with 1,538,000 tuning in for the Bee Gees broadcast. NCIS: Los Angeles reran to 1,359,000 viewers. A rerun of NCIS managed 1035,000 at 10.
CTV found 1,531,000 were watching Missing. A results episode of The Voice did 1,155,000. Unforgettable ended CTV’s night with 1,024,000.
CTV Two plugged in another rerun of Flashpoint (79,000) followed by a Dancing with the Stars results show (1,253,000), where Gavin DeGraw finally got tossed. CTV Two’s night ended with Fashion Star (341,000).
A Nashville/Detroit playoff tilt drew 1,028,000 on CBC.
City stuck to its Tuesday night comedies Last Man Standing (383,000) followed by Cougar Town (389,000), New Girl (690,000) and the season finale of Raising Hope (451,000). Private Practice ended the night at 10 (504,000).
TSN had two NHL playoff games, Phoenix/Chicago (730,000) and Florida/New Jersey (587,000). The Blue Jays continue to swing a hot bat at Sportsnet, pulling 684,000 against Tampa Bay. Deadliest Catch landed 513,000 viewers on Discovery. Pawn Stars fetched 399,000 and 444,000 on History.

The Canucks continued to be the big draw these playoffs, pulling 2,340,000 to a late game against Los Angeles on CBC. If only they could have stuck around a little longer! Another 1,405,000 watched the earlier Rangers/Senators tilt.
Hockey kicked Survivor One World off the top of the Wednesday night ratings, with the Global series knocked down to 2,128,000 viewers. Rookie Blue, which returns with new episodes in late May, was rerun to 433,000. Reruns of The Cleveland Show and The Simpsons drew 165,000 and 280,000 at 10.
American Idol stayed in the competitive mix with 1,804,000 CTV viewers for a Top 7 show. A new CSI followed with 1,636,000 at 10.
CTV Two started their night off with Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (398,000). The terrible new NBC comedy Best Friends Forever managed 132,000. A repeat of Criminal Minds (685,000) followed at 9 with CTV Two ending the night with Law & Order SVU (588,000).
City stuck with The Middle (188,000), Suburgatory (289,000) and Modern Family (641,000). The second episode of ABC’s cheeky new comedy Don’t Trust the B—in Apartment 23 rose to 493,000, followed Revenge at 10 (495,000).
TSN had another big hockey score with their Philly/Pittsburgh tilt (1,412,000). A Jays game batted 554,000 on Sportsnet. History scared 444,000 with Swamp People and poked another 173,000 with Full Metal Jousting. The Real Housewives of Vancouver slid to 53,000 on Slice.
The Big Bang Theory aired another repeat to 2,054,000. Two and a Half Men followed with 1,323,000. Grey’s Anatomy was next with 2,034,000, with The Mentalist pulling 1,389,000.
The American Idol results hour (1,334,000) was up again on CTV Two. America’s Top Model fell down to 225,000. A Criminal Minds repeat drew 290,000 at 10. The Vampire Diaries scared up 294,000 viewers at 7 p.m.
An NHL playoff Round One game featuring Boston and Washington drew 1,291,000 on CBC.
Global had The Exes (263,000) followed by The Office (286,000). Kiefer Sutherland’s new series Touch reached out to 1,029,000. Awake woke up 511,000.
City saw 180,000 tune in to Community. 30 Rock rolled to 279,000. Person of Interest interested 442,000 at 9, followed by the new drama Scandal (345,000).
TSN scored with two NHL playoff games: 668,000 for San Jose/St. Louis, 545,000 for Chicago/Phoenix. The Jays and Rays batted 570,000 on Sportsnet. Over at Food, 338,000 went on a Restaurant Stakeout.


Philly/Pittsburgh was the biggest draw of the night on TSN, scoring 1,878,000 viewers. The afternoon World Hockey Under 18 Championships semi-finals featuring Canada and the USA drew 223,000.
The Detroit/Nashville playoff game brought 1,109,000 hockey fans to CBC.
CTV plugged in back-to-back episodes of Mike & Molly (588,000, 518,000) before moving on to Friday regulars Grimm at 9 (1,010,000) and Blue Bloods (1,030,000).
Global went with The Finder at 8 (1,062,000) followed by Harry’s Law (775,000) and fading Ringer (363,000).
CTV Two went with Nikita (157,000), CSI: New York (476,000) and Dateline (298,000).
City’s only Friday show of note was Fringe (394,000). Mantracker tracked down 105,000 at 10.
The Real Housewives of Vancouver outraged 85,000 at 9 on Slice. King continues to get crowned Fridays at 9 on Showcase (79,000) and actually does slightly better when repeated on Saturdays (93,000).

Penn Jillette & Clay Aiken try to figure out why Global buried their series

Two NHL playoff games on CBC saw Washington/Boston net 1,304,000 in the early game and Senators/Rangers score 2,300,000 at 7 p.m.
TSN scored with two NHL playoff games: late game Chicago at Phoenix (919,000) and San Jose at St. Louis (451,000).
Buried Saturday at 8 and airing six days after its NBC broadcast, a two hour Celebrity Apprentice was found by 222,000 Global viewers. The Firm managed 406,000 at 10. Saturday Night Live did 350,000 at 11:30 p.m. The Listener repeated to 561,000 at 10 p.m. on CTV.


CBC is going to hate to see the Canucks go. Gone is that big Vancouver TV audience. The final game in their round one series with Los Angeles ended with 3,340,000 CBC viewers seeing the Canucks exit early.
On CTV, Once Upon a Time returned to 1,473,000 at 7. The Amazing Race roared back at 8 with 2,587,000 overnight, estimated viewers. CSI: Miami did 921,000, with Law & Order SVU subbing for GCB and managing 684,000.
Global carried Fox’s 25th Anniversary Special, with 329,000 joining the party in Canada. For the second week in a row, The Good Wife (1,076,000) cracked the million mark, with rookie cop drama NYC 22 arresting 952,000 on Global at 10—good but nearly a half million drop from its premiere the week before.
An early afternoon playoff game between departing Pittsburgh and Philly netted 1,026,000 viewers for TSN. Jays batted 567,000 for a game against KC on Sportsnet.
Canada’s Got Talent slipped slightly to 573,000 on City. CTV Two had nothing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Debating the demise of CBC's The Debaters

Steve Patterson, host of The Debaters: still on CBC Radio One
Should The Debaters have been among the shows axed by CBC?
At first glance, the public broadcaster’s decision to lose the comedic point-counter-point series, hosted by Steve Patterson, doesn’t seem debatable when you look at the numbers it was drawing—roughly 250,000 viewers per episode across Canada. It was often paired with critically acclaimed Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays last fall which pulled the same low audience levels.
But, as Debaters executive producer Brian Roberts argues (or, perhaps, debates), other CBC shows delivered low numbers at a much higher cost. For a network desperate for cost efficient programming at a time of deep budget cuts, The Debaters was a steal, he says.
“I feel for the CBC, I really do,” says Roberts, an American-born producer-director now living in Canada. A 25 year veteran of the TV business, his credits range from directing episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and The Drew Carey Show to Little Mosque and Dan for Mayor. “They are a little like Brad Pitt's character in Moneyball," he says of CBC programming executives. How are you going to compete in a fierce marketplace with a budget that is a fraction of what your competitors have to spend? You can try and beat your head against the wall chasing star players that you can't afford or you can take a different approach and look at the game in a new and innovative way.”
Roberts feels that the cost effective model of The Debaters was designed to address not only what the CBC is facing, but broadcasters all through North America: declining viewership, declining revenue and soaring production costs.
Roberts says each episode of The Debaters cost just $75,000 to produce. Producers are generally reluctant to talk costs, but a figure ten times that amount-- or $750,000--is usually seen as the minimum cost-per-episode of a half hour, one-camera comedy in Canada. In the U.S. it's much higher; Bill Lawrence, executive producer of Cougar Town, told me in January his show costs $2 million per episode.
(Matt Watts, who wrote and starred on Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays, tells Toronto Star TV columnist Rob Salem his show was a bargain, too; read more on that in tomorrow's Toronto Star.)
Another saving, says Roberts, is that his series cost CBC nothing in promotion because it didn’t get any.
That’s a lament often heard from Canadian television producers, and not just at CBC. In Roberts' case, however, he actually means NO promotion. CBC prioritizes its promotional budget, and while shows like Michael, Arctic Air and Mr. D were always designated “1A” top of the list, Roberts knew all along his series would have to rely on word of mouth.
Continuing the Moneyball analogy, Roberts figures his show, averaging 250,000 viewers on the season, cost CBC roughly 30 cents per viewer. Mr. D, which averaged around 600,000 viewers, came in at a two bucks per viewer clip—before you factor in the additional promotional cost. The Debaters delivered fewer viewers, but there was far less pressure on maintaining ad revenue, he states.
“That is how the show was sold to the network, and just like in Moneyball, the vertically integrated production model represented a real paradigm shift in the CBC's approach to programming,” he believes. “Though the network opted not to continue our show, I strongly believe The Debaters still offers a lesson in how the network might stay competitive in this challenging new environment.”
He also points out that The Debaters was a multi-platform show. “It was groundbreaking in that we recorded the radio show and the television show at the same time, saving CBC radio money and providing online streaming for the show that are usually only available for purchase on iTunes.”
There were other reasons why The Debaters was a good buy, he argues, especially during this current CBC fiscal squeeze: About a quarter of The Debaters total annual budget of $2 million went to CBC’s Vancouver plant, to their mobile trucks and to the costs of the CBC radio version of the series—in other words, back into CBC’s pocket.
The series shone a spotlight on up and coming Canadian talent--a window that is less open than ever in Canada since the demise of the Bullard show and cut backs at Comedy.
The series debated Canadian issues, ticked all the purported mandate boxes for regionally and picked up a comedy nomination this year at Banff.
Would it have made sense to keep it around as a bench player? Roberts obviously thinks so, and was prepared to accept a reduced order. He’s been shopping the format Stateside, where polarized political views would likely stoke the show’s satirical debating format.
The good news is that the series does survive on CBC Radio One.
Roberts adds he’s “thankful to the network for the opportunity to try and bring The Debaters to television.” He has moved on to a new, American style multi-camera comedy sitting at another Canadian network. He hopes it will get picked up in the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

TONIGHT: Fox's 25th Anniversary Special

Johnny Depp (front) starred in 21 Jump Street
Ryan Seacrest hosts tonight’s two hour Fox 25th Anniversary Special (8 p.m. ET). Stars from older hits like In Living Color, Married…with Children, Beverly Hills 90210, Ally McBeal and That ‘70s Show will join current Fox headliners Hugh Laurie (House), Kiefer Sutherland (Touch and 24), Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler (American Idol) in saluting the network.
The celebration comes as Fox reigns as America’s most watched broadcaster. That hardly seemed possible way back in 1987. The network lurched on the air a couple of nights at a time and never did expand to a full, 23-hour prime time grid like ABC, CBS and NBC, leaving the 10 to 11 p.m. hour to affiliates. They changed the network calendar by making January as important as September, saving their big guns until the start of the New Year.
Fox was not exactly welcomed by the old “Big Three.” I remember NBC programming boss Brandon Tartikoff grumbling back in the late ‘80s that he would yank all his network advertising out of Rupert Murdoch’s TV Guide if he saw 21 Jump Street’s breakout star Johnny Depp on two covers in one year.
One place the network always stood out was at those TCA press tour sessions. At a time when established network press corps seem to have a no fun clause in their presentations (veterans still wince at the memory of CBS’s “hostility suite”), the Fox kids threw a party every six months. Daytime sessions were “themed” with elaborate staging and graphics. Back in ‘93 Fox had an elaborate beach house constructed in the hotel banquet room. This worked okay until the cast for something called Key West tried to take the stage. One of Jennifer Tilly’s heels got stuck in the wooden boardwalk, causing her chest to bounced up and down for the next 15 seconds. While it woke up the press hounds, this special effect still didn’t help her series last more than a few months.
Jason Priestley, a Canadian who got
his break on Fox's Beverly Hills 90120
Fox always had a strong sports presence and this got played up during evening events. I recall one outdoor deal where critics and reporters were invited to toss footballs, swing bats, even take shots into hockey nets to win network hats and T-shirts. (Canadians—we decided amongst ourselves--couldn’t just shoot a puck into a net, we had to hit all four corners “Shootout” style.)
Those Fox parties were energized by a young, cool posse of publicists, including Cindy Ronzoni, Sharan Magnuson, Antonia Coffman…good times.
Too bad tonight’s special did not feature publicists spilling about having to put up with bad behaviour from top stars. Instead, there’ll be clips from some of Fox’s biggest faux pas, including clips from When Good Pets Gone Bad, The Swan, The Littlest Bachelor, Temptation Island, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, Married by America, Celebrity Boxing, Mr. Personality, My Big Fat Obnoxious FiancĂ© and my personal favourite Fox disaster, The Chevy Chase Show

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dick Clark Part 2: turning Bandstand into Dreams

Following up on an earlier post about the passing of Dick Clark: racial integration on the dance floor of American Bandstand happened a lot faster than I remembered.
Bill Harris at the Toronto Sun helped dig out the Sun story I wrote in 2003 about a visit to the Los Angeles set of American Dreams, a short-lived NBC series that was more or less an homage to the glory days of Clark’s American Bandstand.
The nostalgic drama, which ran from 2002-05, was seen as an antidote to anxious, post-9/11 times. It hearkened back to a kinder, gentler America, the squeaky-clean world of the mid-'60s.
Those times, however, were a changin'. The series began in the fall of 1963. John Kennedy has been assassinated. The Civil Rights movement was on the march. Beatlemania was about to sweep America.
The series, in executive producer Jonathan Price’s words, tried to hold a “a rear view mirror of history that says we made it through a difficult, horrible, wonderful, thrilling roller coaster in 1963 through 1969, '70. We're going to make it again.”
The cast of NBC's American Dreams
Dick Clark's slice of white bread Americana was faithfully re-created on the same Sunset-Gower studio back lot where many of the Frank Capra films of the '30s were lensed. Extras dressed in short-brimmed fedoras, wool coats and other '60s clothing were hired to walk among critics shuttled into the lot during that season’s TCA press tour. Beside us on the street were Ford Fairlanes and other cars from that era.
There was a record store on the lot where Beatle records and posters were shown to be crowding out the Motown and surf band chart busters. In a neat bit of casting, Art Garfunkel made a few appearances on the series as the owner of the record store.
Montreal-native Vanessa Lengies, a former Popular Mechanics For Kids host now seen as Sugar on the third season of Glee, played Bandstand dancer Roxanne Bojarski. She handed out chocolate "45s" to critics. Former NYPD Blue regular Gail O'Grady, who plays '60s mom Helen Pryor, offered Tastycakes to writers filing through the interior set of the main family house. 
Clark—in good health a year prior to his debilitating stroke—held court on the floor of the large Bandstand set. He pronounced it a clone of his old Philly dance studio. The TV veteran was an executive producer on American Dreams.
He pointed out all the gold records, pennants and other paraphernalia on the set and said they were exact duplicates of the ones he still had in his office.
Clark, then 73 (he died last week at 82) was able to put Bandstand in perspective for a few of us who surrounded him that day on the set. He told us that at the height of the show, the kids who were regular dancers on the series received 15,000 to 20,000 pieces of mail a week.
American Dreams dealt with the gradual integration of African Americans onto the Bandstand dance floor, a breakthrough that happened sooner in racially-mixed Philly than in other part of the United States or Canada. Clark recalled that the first black couple hit the dance floor in 1959 (Bandstand began in 1956) and that the transition went a lot smoother than the network originally feared. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

CBC's Kirstine Stewart on the unkindest cuts of all

For somebody who should have looked like they'd been run over by a news truck, Kirstine Stewart was still on her feet at Thursdays' TV Day symposium in Toronto.
There she was on the "TV Leaders" panel, the only women among the Boy's Club of private network broadcasters. Didn't even get introduced by the moderator.
That morning, a much anticipated release goes out announcing what shows made the cut on CBC's battered 2012-13 schedule. There is press in the room, and Stewart, flanked only by media relations officer Chris Ball, knows she's going to have to deal with it. Surprisingly, just three of us follow her into the next room for a private recap on the cuts.
The public broadcaster has had a pretty good winter, launching two successful shows in Arctic Air and Mr. D. They did it in a crowded January and February when few U.S. shows took off. NBC, which saw big budget shows like The Firm and Smash flop and stumble out of the gate, would be popping corks over Arctic Air-level success.
CBC's good fortune, however, was obscured under the black cloud of funding cuts. Coupled with the unrelenting, year-long "state network" attacks from Quebecor's various media outlets, and Stewart dropped her guard long enough to admit that it does feel, as some have suggested, like the rug has been pulled out from under her.
The public discourse on the fate of the CBC, growing louder in some quarters, hasn't made things any easier. Ken Finkleman--who enjoyed carte blanche for years at CBC as the well funded darling of previous regiems--let loose a searing rant currently circulating on a viral video clip. In it he names Stewart and her predecessor Richard Stursberg as the two who wrecked everything at the network by trying to put on shows viewers want to watch.
Asked directly about the Finkleman clip, Stewart says she hasn't seen it, but she's heard about it. Always a smart answer.
Stewart insists every single show on her schedule would be back if not for the funding cuts--even low-rated Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays. She says Battle of the Blades, off the protected list, is on a one year hiatus. Strictly a cost saving venture. Executive producer John Brunton hopes Stewart is not just blowing smoke about a return in one year (see previous post).
When another reporter suggests dumping Blades and Cover Me Canada signals a move away from even cheaper reality fare, Stewart points out she did green light Over the Rainbow, a new theatrical competition series in partnership with Mirvish Productions. The series is basically the search for a new Dorothy.
Earlier in the TV Day session, Stewart was asked about CBC veering down in the muck with other reality show programmers. She defended the move, pointing out that another public broadcaster, the BBC, was doing its own version of The Voice next season. "Without that revenue, we couldn't make other [scripted] programming," she said.
Extending Marketplace from 12 to 24 episodes helps fill a few holes on her weakened schedule. The consumer series has earned the boost with million-plus ratings on Friday nights. Adding the five-year-old Rogers' period drama Murdoch Mysteries will also help. The acquisition Titanic: Blood & Steel, from the people behind Camelot, sounds like it will arrive late and sink, but Stewart thinks (or hopes) the 100th anniversary thing will still float in the fall.
Still--adding the Titanic? While you're re-shuffling deck chairs??
The good news for the shows still on the CBC schedule is that Stewart is hoping to bring them all back with full, regular orders. She trimmed back on 22 Minutes and other shows in the past and the lesson was its a real momentum killer. Everything will be finalized by May 10, when CBC announces its schedule in Toronto.
One thing viewers will notice is more double pumps. For years, the Rick Mercer Report has aired on Tuesdays and repeated on Fridays. Other shows will get the Mercer 2.0 treatment. There are six fewer shows on Stewart's schedule, and holes have to be filled.
Another challenge is replacing the supper hour imports Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Those deals run out in September and CBC will have to find an all-Canadian replacement. Stewart did not suggest this, but perhaps shows from other dayparts, such as Stroumboulopoulos or Steven & Chris, will get second windows.
Again, more will be revealed May 10. Till then, Stewart is staying as far as she can from open windows or high ledges.

John Brunton on CBC icing Battle of the Blades

John Brunton says he's "had better days" after Thursday's CBC bombshell
With all the hits hockey has taken lately, one yesterday sent TV producer John Brunton reeling. CBC dropped a bombshell Thursday by announcing that Battle of the Blades would not be part of its 2012-13 season.
“I’ve had better days in my career,” says Brunton, head of Insight Productions and executive producer of the three year old series.
Brunton, who also produces Canada’s Got Talent for City and Canada Sings for Global, acknowledged that Blades, which features ex-NHLers competing as figure skaters, is a “big, expensive show.” He pointed out, however, that it is also one of CBC’s top-rated shows, calling it “the most successful competition format ever.”
CBC executive vice president Kirstine Stewart, who was among the Canadian TV executives appearing at a TV Day symposium in Toronto Thursday, says the decision to place the series on hiatus for one year was purely economically motivated. The CBC is grappling with a 10% reduction of its federal appropriation, a $115 million hit phased in over the next three years.
That three year dwindling has Brunton a little worried about Blades returning for CBC’s 2013-14 season. CTV once famously announced it was “resting” another show Brunton produced, Canadian Idol. That was seven years ago.
Stewart, however, also put a series on the shelf for a season—the daytime magazine Steven & Chris—and, true to her word, brought it back the following year.
Other reality shows have been parked by other networks for a year or longer and returned stronger than ever. Pierre Dion, president and CEO of French language network TVA, told the TV Day attendees that his network’s biggest hit, Star Academy, weathered a similar shut down. That star search series was rested in 2009 and then returned to TVA’s schedule three years later, drawing an astounding 2.3 million Quebec viewers.
Brunton says that is little comfort for the 150 Blades staffers who will sit out the coming season. Blades has also raised close to a million dollars for various player charities in its first three seasons.
Without naming names, he said he already had commitments from ex-NHL “Hall of Famers and multiple Stanley Cup winners” for the upcoming season and hopes they’ll re-commit in a year’s time. Depending, of course, if CBC re-ups first. “That would be great news,” he says.
NEXT POST (for sure this time): Kirstine Stewart on the downsized CBC schedule. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Confirmed CBC cuts sets TV Day a-Twitter

TV titans Pelley, Crull, Stewart, Dion and Robertson. Photo: CityNews
So we were all sitting in the dark with a bunch of ad folk early Thursday morning when something crazy happened at the TV Day symposium in Toronto: news.
Not at the industry day itself, which was organized by the folks at the Television Bureau of Canada. That was more about speculation and futures and "eco systems of start ups." The theme was "Social Media starts here" and several guest speakers, including Bluefin co-founder Deb Roy, pointed the way.
His research-based presentation was pretty cool, all about social guidance, impact, traction and the shift in ad thinking from impressions to expressions. Lots of nifty charts and graphs. Apparently all those tweets are getting a good sniff from advertisers.
All food for thought, but these things always remind me of that scene in A Hard Day's Night when George wanders in to a marketing office and a prickly expert mistakes him for "an early clue to the new direction."
No, the news arrived during the first session via the Internet--which shouldn't have surprised Roy--although not via Facebook or Twitter but good old  fashioned email. CBC, which had given the bad news to producers the night before and had to get it out there, announced which shows they were going to kick off their schedule next season.
You didn't need to be a seer to figure out which shows would remain. Mercer, Dragons' Den, the horsey show, 22 Minutes, all back. Ron James made the cut, as did Republic of Doyle. January starts Arctic Air and Mr. D survived; Redemption, Inc., did not. Gone, as expected, were Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays and InSecurity, as well as The Debaters (which survives on CBC radio). The pick up of Murdoch Mysteries stands. Turns out I wasn't too far off on the predictions I made the week before.
Being Erica and Little Mosque were already toast, but the shocker, to me anyway, was the omission of Battle of the Blades, one of the network's biggest hits the past three seasons.
CBC executive vice president Kirstine Stewart, who could easily have used a frantic few weeks coping with budget cuts as an excuse to ditch the TV Day sessions, kept the date and joined the boys running the private networks at a "TV Leaders" session. They included Bell Media president Kevin Crull, Shaw Media Group Vice President Paul Robertson, Rogers Media president Keith Pelley, and TVA CEO Pierre Dion.
A guy who writes about cars moderated the panel and barely kept it on the road, forgetting to introduce Stewart and starting the session by welcoming the ad crowd out front to "Jurassic Park." Sure, call these folks dinosaurs, see if they come back next year, Leno.
I mean, what did Bell spend to buy Astral, $2.3 billion? Like a few weeks ago? I'm thinking they still see value in television.
TV Day was held at the Carlu, an Art Deco
event room inside a building the Eatons were
never able to finish 
The point of the morning sessions, the message from expert after expert, was that TV still drives this bus. Brit David Brennan, founder of Media Native, spoke about "Telly-porting" and saw television as the engine behind the emerging digital supermedium. Content, of course, is everything. As Dion said, "You need a big show to drive it on multi-platforms."
There was a mike, and the TV boys looked at me like a hitch hiker with pets when I walked up to it. That's because I brought up the ugly matter of Canadian content. Dion opened the door by crowing about how TVA created, owned and controlled the content across all these platforms thanks to Quebec's ever rabid allegiance to its french language originals. (Think of it: TVA's Star Academie draws 2.4 million viewers--just in Quebec!). Couldn't the English language private networks find a lesson in that, I innocently asked?
That's when Pelley wrapped himself all up in Canada's Got Talent. There was nothing to even remotely suggest these guys aren't as psyched as ever to fly down to Hollywood in a few weeks and drop millions on the next Pan Am or Playboy Club.
Surely this model doesn't work any more, I suggested after the session to Crull. No, it is still the way things work, he insisted, allowing that the returns are diminished for imports but no more than they are for Canadian productions.
Crull did point out that CTV stuck with Flashpoint after CBS started to waver. The key to these co-pros, he said, was design them to be sustainable in Canada first, suggesting the upcoming Toronto-based drama Saving Hope--an NBC co-production--has been built on that model.
Crull's pet peeve--tellingly--is more about control than content. He's all for getting U.S. affiliates off our TV menus, suggesting their availability in Canada was a holdover from the '50s. He pointed out that a surprising 40% of what's seen on Canadian private network screens is not in simulcast, translating into loss of potential ad revenue for domestic broadcasters.
In a world where digital signals from the States can be picked up off of antennas that can attach to the side of your iPad, Canadian network chiefs still seem bent on driving out WKBW. TV Day might have been better branded "Digital Media starts and ends with us."
As for the actual theme, "Social Media starts here," Canadian private network leaders seem quite content that the conversation remain loudest about who was kicked off The Voice last night, or had the funniest line on The Big Bang Theory. Hey, I should probably tweet that.
NEXT POST: Stewart puts a brave spin on a shaken schedule.

This week's podcast: Oprah's Toronto mission

This week, Scott Thompson wanted to yak about Oprah Winfrey's recent pilgrimage to Toronto. Seems Scott's wife was among the thousands who lined up at the Church of Winfrey Sunday at the Toronto Convention Centre. The guy with the giant teeth was also there, urging the congregation to unleash their giant teeth within.
For the full radio yak, which aired Wednesday at 12:35 (too early, alas, to allow for talk of Dick Clark's demise), you can listen in here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dick Clark: 1929-2012

I met Dick Clark--who died today at 82 of a heart attack--on the set of a show he was producing, American Dreams. This was in 2003, before his stroke, and Clark was there to work the television press shuttled to the Sunset Gower Studios (the old Columbia lot) where Dreams was based from 2002-05. "America's Oldest Teenager" was kind of peripherally involved in that NBC drama, which was very much set in the a world Clark created, the early '60s studio of American Bandstand.
Bandstand was so from another, more innocent time. A boyish Clark started hosting the teen music series from Philadelphia in 1956, going national the next year. He was so gosh darn American, with that trademark salute at the end of each broadcast and trademark, "For now, Dick Clark, so long" sign-off. American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, Clark's replacement on those New Year's Rockin' Eve Shows, should pay Clark a royalty every time he opens his mouth.
Bandstand had a good beat and you could dance to it and it lasted into the '80s, but really was about the '50s. The British Invasion swept aside all of the squeaky clean Fabians and Tab Hunters and Bobby Darin's Clark helped fabricate and mold into Bieber blueprints.
One of the most ironic Hollywood signposts I've ever seen is a plaque on the outside of a downtown Hollywood studio where Grey's Anatomy now shoots. It marks the transition of Clark's Bandstand from Philly to L.A. and is dated Feb. 10, 1964--the day after The Beatles changed everything on Ed Sullivan. Basically the day the show arrived in California, it was history.
Clark on the other hand endured for decades. He was a daytime star as host of Pyramid. His production company produced prime time series and specials, many of which he hosted. In 1973 he launched The American Music Awards, in direct competition with The Grammys, a stage Michael Jackson moonwalked into history in the mid-'80s. He was just one of those gifted broadcasters who never wore out his welcome.
Years before I met him in person, when I worked at TV Guide Canada in the '80s and '90s, I spoke with Clark on the phone. He was hosting Bloopers & Practical Jokes and New Year's Rockin' Eve at the time. He was all charm on the line, oozing that famous casual, neighbourly manner, bragging about a new brick pizza oven he'd installed in his house and suggesting if I was ever in the 'hood, to drop over for a slice.
Never did get that address.
He was more business-y on that day on the American Dreams set. Executive Producer Jonathan Prince had gone to the trouble of bringing extras in to walk the lot in '60s costumes and even had a Philly Cheese Steak wagon on the street set for scribes to nosh. The things we remember often have to do with our stomachs.
The jacket
The Bandstand set was inside and journalists sat in the bleachers while Clark, Prince and the cast, which included Gail O'Grady and Will Estes, were introduced. There was some sort of raffle or draw, and I wound up winning a cool high school jacket with the name of the series stitched on one sleeve. It was handed to me by Clark.
He talked about the old days, a bit reluctantly; Clark was all about what's happening now. He skirted around questions of Beatles and British Invasion.
Clark spoke proudly about being among the first to showcase African American entertainers. The show was slower to integrate the dancers in the studio audience as Clark candidly admitted. It was well into the show's run before the first black kid danced with the first white kid. Bandstand was not so much of its time but slightly behind the times, the last place where civil rights were tested.
More on Clark in a later post; condolences to his wife and family.

A million thanks

Receiving the Odor of Canada
Sometime last weekend, TV Feeds My Family passed a bit of an Internet milestone: over a million page views. That's like twice the population of Brampton! I swear it's not all my mom checking in, my parents don't even own a computer.
Many thanks to everyone who stops by and takes the time to read what is posted here. This site was created late in 2007 mainly as a way to promote books, personal appearances and other paid assignments. That was 1,874 posts ago. I've found blogging has its own rewards, and appreciate all the feedback here and via Twitter. I'm always humbled when I encounter regular readers, especially many in the Canadian and American TV industry. It really is fun following and reporting on what you do, and if the numbers occasionally sting, hey, I'm just the messenger.
This space has allowed me to weigh in on a more personal level than is usually possible writing for The Canadian Press, The Toronto Star or other media outlets (especially during set visits and out-of-town assignments), and I'm grateful for that. The freedom to advance stories through audio podcasts, video and personal photography is also a plus.
Hoping to launch more innovation along with the usual blather in the future. Stay tuned, as they say in TV land.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Brioux Report: Stanley Cup fever

The puck dropped on the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs and once again hockey dominated the Canadian TV Top-10. Vancouver's poor start, however, has to be a concern for CBC, which will miss those west coast ratings should Canucks do the unthinkable and bow out early. 
The Amazing Race and Survivor were one-two for the week despite all that hockey competition. The Toronto Blue Jays were back, too, and proved to be a big draw all week on Sportnet
Here’s how all it all played out across Canada in prime time among adults 2+ the week of April 9 to 15 according to overnight estimates:


A new Bones was a bonus for Global with 1,774,000 counted in the overnight estimates. A new House drew 1,728,000. Hawaii FIVE-0 beat them both at 10, hitting 1,821,000.
Dancing with the Stars on CTV Two (1,311,000) beat The Voice on CTV (1,097,000) although Voice won again in the 25-54 demo. A rerun of Castle followed on CTV with 1,262,000 viewers.
Smash is no smash on CTV Two (438,000).
Canada’s Got Talent but City is not getting viewers. Moved again this week to 9 p.m., the talent search series drew 271,000 for a 30-minute Semi-Final. How I met Your Mother opened City’s night at 8 (753,000) followed by 2 Broke Girls (857,000). Rules of Engagement did 94,000 and the premiere of the Showtime drama Shameless did 159,000 at 10.
Between hockey games it is wall-to-wall reruns on CBC this spring. This week, reheated Little Mosque did 286,000 and 311,000 back-to-back. Love Lies Bleeding kicked in another 236,000.
The Blue Jays batted clean up for Sportsnet in their home opener, drawing a hefty 1,325,000. 923,000 of those came from Sportsnet Ontario.
History got a lift from an American Restoration marathon (peaking at 441,000) and Cajun Pawn Stars (357,000, 411,000). Top Chef Canada rose to 374,000 on Food. Bering Sea Gold (318,000) was the big draw at Discovery. Score pinned 316,000 with WWE Raw. Midsomer Murders killed on TVO (305,000).


Glee was back at Global with 1,793,000 returning for the Fox song party. NCIS: Los Angeles topped the night with 2,004,000 viewers. NCIS reran to 1075,000 at 10.
CTV found 1,804,000 viewers with Missing. A results episode of The Voice did 1,049,000. Unforgettable ended CTV’s night with 1,383,000.
CTV Two went with a rerun of Flashpoint (155,000) followed by a Dancing with the Stars results show (1,309,000). Goodbye Sherri Shepherd. CTV Two’s night ended with Fashion Star (299,000).
‘Twas the night before the hockey playoffs, so CBC threw together a HNiC “Stanley Cup Countdown” special (245,000). At 9 they aired a Just Four Laughs comedy special featuring Russell peters (738,000).
City had its normal Tuesday night schedule of Last Man Standing (327,000) followed by Cougar Town (354,000), New Girl (which soared to 720,000). Raising Hope (also way up at 542,000) and Body of Proof (684,000).
The Blue Jays continue to swing a big bat at Sportsnet, pulling 959,000 against the Red Sox. The NHL Draft Lottery drew 602,000 desperate Leafs fans on TSN. Pawn Stars fetched 318,000 and 363,000 on History.

Survivor One World stayed on top of the overnights with 2,274,000 viewers. Rookie Blue, which returns with new episodes in late May, was rerun to 467,000. Part 4 of Global’s new Titanic miniseries sunk to 344,000 viewers.
CBC had two NHL playoff games. Detroit/Nashville drew 993,000 and then Canucks/LA soared to 2,041,000.
A two hour American Idol drew 1,791,000 CTV viewers. A new CSI followed with a remarkable 1,992,000 tuning in at 10.
CTV Two started their night off with Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (309,000). The terrible new NBC comedy Best Friends Forever managed 196,000. CTV Two took a big jump with Criminal Minds (1,268,000) followed by Law & Order SVU (536,000).
City stuck with The Middle (281,000), Suburgatory (304,000) and Modern Family (728,000). At 9:30 came the premiere of ABC’s cheeky new comedy Don’t Trust the B—in Apartment 23 (461,000), followed Revenge at 10 (304,000).
TSN had a big hockey score with their Philly/Pittsburgh tilt (1,490,000). A Jays game drew 430,000 on Sportsnet. New to History was Full Metal Jousting, which poked 169,000. The Real Housewives of Vancouver entertained 163,000 on Slice.
King crowned 80,000 on Showcase.
The Big Bang Theory was marked down to 2,191,000 for a rerun. Two and a Half Men followed with 1,280,000. Grey’s Anatomy was next with 1,868,000, with Criminal Minds pulling 1,026,000.
American Idol (1,014,000) was up a bit on CTV Two. Hot in Cleveland (344,000) and Up All Night (206,000) followed. Thrown onto a new night, the finale of Nikita managed 39,000 at 10.
Global had The Exes (239,000) followed by The Office (225,000). Kiefer Sutherland’s new series Touch reached out to 998,000. Awake woke up 579,000.
An NHL playoff Round One game featuring Ottawa and NYR drew 1,565,000 on CBC.
City saw 188,000 tune in to Community. 30 Rock rolled to 235,000. Raising Hope slid to 108,000, followed by 2 Broke Girls (415,000). The premiere of the new drama Scandal did 334,000.
TSN scored with two NHL playoff games (592,000 for San Jose/St. Louis, 674,000 for Chicago/Phoenix. House of Bryan built to 300,000 on HGTV.


CBC got two more hockey wins from Detroit/Nashville (692,000) and especially LA/Vancouver (2,048,000).
CTV stuck with Undercover Boss at 8 (1,188,000) followed by Grimm at 9 (949,000) and then switched to CSI: Miami (1,070,000).
Global get an early start with the Aboriginal Achievement Awards at 7:30 (147,000) followed by Harry’s Law (820,000) and Ringer (378,000).
CTV Two welcomed back Shark Tank (490,000) followed by a two hour Lionel Ritchie music special (453,000).
City had another Gord Martineau news special (50,000) followed by Fringe (295,000) and Mantracker (123,000).
Philly/Pittsburgh drew 1,442,000 to TSN. Jays batted 665,000 on Sportsnet.
Moving to Fridays did nothing for King (49,000).


Two NHL playoff games on CBC saw Washington/Boston net 1,038,000 and Senators/Rangers score 2,146,000.
Buried Saturday at 8 and airing six days after its NBC broadcast, a two hour Celebrity Apprentice was found by 272,000 Global viewers.
Blue Jays batted another 796,000 for an afternoon game on Sportsnet National. A new Saturday Night Live did 546,000 at 11:30 p.m.


Once Upon a Time reran to 711,000 at 7 on CTV. The Amazing Race roared back at 8 with 2,296,000 overnight, estimated viewers. CSI: Miami did 1,001,000, with GCB managing 901,000.
Vancouver/LA was a late draw on CBC, scoring 2,199,000.
Global started with The Simpsons (690,000) followed by Bob’s Burgers (445,000) then took off with The Good Wife (1,067,000), which must be getting a boost from Matthew Perry. The premiere of the new Rookie Blue clone NYC 22 did surprisingly well at 10, arresting 1,427,000.
TSN scored again with Philly/Pitts (1,299,000) and Jersey/Florida (1,137,000).
Canada’s Got Talent was up to 612,000 on City. CTV Two had nothing.
Jays batted 611,000 on Sportsnet. Titanic at 100 floated to 436,000 on History. Justified drew 124,000 on Showcase.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shameless plug alert: CBC cuts today on CHCH

Heading down the road to Hamilton to appear on CHCH's Square Off today at 5:30 p.m. ET with Mark Hebscher and Liz West. Seems Hebsy read my CP article on how CBC should handle their upcoming programming cuts which ran Saturday in The Toronto Star. Always thinkin', he asked for me to come in and kick the topic around. Keep a safe distance back from your set.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Late Night Joke of the Week

From Late Show with David Letterman (as heard on Thursday, the CBS host's 65th birthday):

All week long people have been commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. And police, when it came up, they started questioning Robert Wagner.

CBC cuts: what should be slashed and saved

I figure what the CBC could use these days is a few more unpaid consultants. There are some tough decisions ahead as the public broadcaster deals a $115 million reduction in their parliamentary appropriation. Network officials have dropped several hints as to where they are going in advance of their May 10 2012-13 season launch in Toronto. Here's my two-cents on how it should go down as outlined in the article I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.
  • "Cover Me Canada": For a Sunday night showcase there was no buzz, not enough viewers. TV's talent show glut is finally starting to turn viewers off. Get out now.
  • "InSecurity": Got two seasons to figure itself out. Never did.
  • "Michael: Tuesday & Thursdays": Canada's "Arrested Development," a clever series critics loved but viewers rejected. Congrats on a witty miniseries that will deserve all those Gemini wins and hope to see you soon on HBO Canada.
Jump to the rest of the article here

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This week's podcast: Cup, CBC and Bitch blather

This week, CHML's Scott Thompson wonders if no Leafs means ratings will take a hit during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Absolutely--Leafs are the biggest draw in Canadian team sports--but many fans now cheering for Pittsburgh or Philly may have already forgotten what it was like to have the Leafs in this mix.
The Beek & the Bitch. ABC/Patrick Harbron
We also talk about the CBC cuts and which shows are likely to be toast by the time the public broadcaster announces its schedule May 10. Connect with Mark Kelley has already been unplugged. I say InSecurity, Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays and Cover Me Canada will join Being Erica and Little Mosque on the ash heap; other shows will air fewer episodes.
We also talk about the ABC's bitchy new comedy Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23. It's rude and raunchy and at least twice as funny as 2 Broke Girls and 23 times funnier than Whitney. Leads Krysten Ritter and good sport James Van Der Beek are to laff. Catch it locally Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on City.
We also pay tribute to Mike Wallace, the uncompromising 60 Minutes spitfire who died earlier this month at 93. Would that there were a few young Mike Wallace's around today to scare a lot of big shots.
You can listen in here.