Friday, June 29, 2012

Late night joke of the week

From Thursday's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:
Pittsburgh Penguins star Jordan Staal was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes last weekend while he was getting married. Not good — you never want to find out on your wedding night that your husband’s playing for the other team.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

TONIGHT: Charlie Sheen seeks sitcom redemption with FX's Anger Management

The return of Sheen.  Blue skies? Storm clouds?
Will Charlie Sheen's new FX comedy Anger Management be a hit?
FX sure hopes so. Tonight's opener (9 p.m. ET/PT) is the first of ten episodes ordered. If audiences still love Charlie, and the series ranks among the top cable offerings this summer, an order for 90 more episodes--to be shot over a year-and-a-half--automatically kicks in.
CTV sure hopes so. Aside for one Olympic sneak peak, they're parking Sheen's new series, holding it for an out-of-simulcast fall launch. (Read more on the Canadian broadcast strategy in this feature I wrote this week for The Canadian Press.)
Critics, of course, already hate it. Mo Ryan of the Huffington Post calls it "repulsive." She adds that "the core  ugliness and toxic narcissism of Anger Management are impossible to ignore." She also calls it a "lazy, stiff, laugh track sitcom." I'm pretty sure she doesn't like it.
The review in the Boston Herald wasn't much better. "What passes for laugh-track fodder is lame, crude and homophobic," writes Mark Perigard.
The New York Times zinged Sheen by saying he was "Half the Man He Used to Be."
Thing is, critics generally hated his last sitcom, Two and a Half Men. It goes into season 11 this fall.
Still, if Sheen has worn out his welcome and the series tanks, CTV may be launching a series this fall which has already been cancelled in the States.
The overnight U.S. numbers will come in tomorrow, but the numbers over the following three weeks will tell the tale.

TONIGHT: Brand X with Russell Brand

Russell Brand: like Lloyd Robertson, only taller, British, more naked
There are two new, big buzz FX series opening today--one you can see now in Canada and one you can not.
The one crossing the border tonight is Brand X with Russell Brand, simulcast Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on the Rogers-owned specialty channel FX Canada. The other is Charlie Sheen's new comedy Anger Management. More on that in a following post.
Brand X, shot before a studio audience, is being touted as the British actor/comedian's "unvarnished and unfiltered point of view on current events, worldwide politics and popular culture." Brand told critics at the most recent TCA press tour in January that he'll probably veer more toward politics than pop:
We live in a time where we’re stupefied by plasticity, where we have this toxic sequined wave of vapid culture polluting our minds, denigrating our consciousness, detracting and removing us from our spirituality. So gossip-based stories would have less value other than in an analytical context. But if it was just more lacquered nonsense designed to distract us from the truth, then I would wisely ignore it.
Sounds like Brand X will be a bit of a dangerous, punky Bill Maher, which works for me. 
Besides his brief marriage to Katy Perry, Brand is best known on this side of the pond for his outrageous MTV Awards appearances as well as for feature films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Arthur. His unique blend of figit-y, articulate, ADS energy and provocative jesting seems a smart way to try and lure the kids back to late night and away from Xbox and YouTube. 
Have to say he was dazzling at press tour, smart, funny and fearless. His was the very last session in January and his spirited (and surprisingly spiritual) musings made many of us glad we stuck it out to the end. If he delivers like that on Brand X, North American audiences are in for a treat.
The initial order is for six 30-minute episodes. Read more on Brand and his new series here at this article I wrote for The Canadian Press.

This week's podcast: more about those blonds

This week, CHML Talk Radio host Scott Thompson wanted to hear more about those three young blond women dressed in pink mini-dresses carrying the 6-foot inflatable penis around in Vegas. Scott has that kind of journalisticly inquisitive, investigative mind.
As mentioned here previously, I was in Vegas covering an upcoming Travel + Escape channel series, the Paddling Bryans. These three were wandering the Wynn Encore resort last week and, knowing a photo op when I see one, I threw a picture up of them on this blog.
I really don't know anything else about them--if they were bringing props to a Carrot Top performance, or leftovers from the NHL Awards, or just happy to see me.  All I know is the security folks at the Encore didn't seem all that happy to see them.
Scott and I yak about some other stuff, some of it about television. You can listen in here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Brioux Report: soccer Canada's No. 1 show

It’s happened. The most-watched TV show of the week in all of Canada is a soccer game (Sunday's UEFA England/Italy tilt). Somewhere, Don Cherry weeps.
Beyond TSN’s Euro 2012 coverage, the NHL Awards were still a decent draw on CBC. Summer doldrums have set in, however, and despite strong showings by domestic dramas The Listener, Saving Hope and Continuum, Canada is starting to experience the same kind of TV turnoff taking place this month south of the border.
Here’s how all it all played out across Canada in prime time among adults 2+ the week of June 19-24 according to overnight estimates:

The Glass House is half full on this shameless Big Brother rip-off

CTV had reruns of Mike & Molly (671,000) and Two and a Half Men (624,000) then a hearty helping of Masterchef (1,289,000). The premiere of the Big Brother clone The Glass House drew 692,000 curious onlookers.
America’s Got Talent (1,169,000) continues to pull them in at City. Hell’s Kitchen simmered to 547,000 at 9. Shameless followed at 10 (152,000).
Global opened with Psych (340,000) followed by reruns of House (391,000) and Hawaii FIVE-0 (710,000).
CBC made do with reruns of Mr. D (286,000), Ron James (239,000) and Republic of Doyle (418,000).
CTV Two’s only draw was Criminal Minds at 8 (368,000).
Jays/Brewers batted 663,000 on Sportsnet. Italy/Ireland entertained 503,000 soccer fans on TSN. WWE Raw body slammed 443,000 on Score. Big show on Discovery was River Monsters (293,000).

Helene and Tali serve soldiers on Masterchef. 

CTV had fresh Hot in Cleveland (1,091,000) followed by Bent (458,000). Masterchef followed at 9 (1,458,000) leading into Love in the Wild (974,000).
Global did well as usual with reruns of NCIS (1,018,000) plus NCIS: Los Angeles (1,058,000). Canada Sings followed at 10 (450,000).
City got cookin’ with Hell’s Kitchen (888,000) followed by America’s Got Talent (755,000). Back to back episodes of FX Canada cross over Louie did 151,000, 74,000.
CBC aired a Mercer repeat (371,000), a spare 22 Minutes (284,000) and dug out an episode of Camelot (228,000).
Criminal Minds (400,000) was the big draw on CTV Two.
The Blue Jays were on deck at Sportsnet, pulling 665,000 against Milwaukee. TSN did even better with an England vs. Ukraine soccer match (676,000). The evening Miami/Oklahoma NBA final drew 349,000.
Deadliest Catch hooked 410,000 on Discovery. Pawn Stars fetched 284,000 and 279,000 on History. Pretty Little Liars seduced 173,000 on MuchMusic.

Lauren Lee Smith and Craig Olejnik of The Listener. Back over a million

CTV saw So You Think You Can Dance waltz off with 1,453,000 viewers over two hours. The Listener was up at 10 to 1,149,000 in the overnights.
CBC had the NHL Awards, direct from Las Vegas (737,000).
The new U.S. cable reboot of Dallas went from 655,000 to 460,000 on Bravo. Forget “Who Shot J.R.,” this is more like, “Who gave J.R. his shots?”
Global aired Justin Bieber: The World at 8 (460,000) followed by The Office (134,000) and a 90-minute edition of Duets (371,000).                                 
City stuck with The Middle (181,000), Suburgatory (218,000) and Modern Family (331,000). Rules of Engagement slid in at 9:30 (193,000) followed by a new episode of Murdoch Mysteries (352,000).
CTV Two went Flashpoint (232,000), Criminal Minds (491,000), CSI (509,000). History scared 424,000 with Swamp People. The Jays batted 345,000 vs. Milwaukee on Sportsnet. TSN2 drew 258,000 to a TiCat/Blue Bomber CFL game. The Real Housewives of Vancouver drew 196,000 at 10 p.m. on Slice.
CTV reran The Big Bang Theory three times in a row counting the 7:30 slot (1,275,000, 1,813,000, 1,574,000). The new shot-in-Toronto hospital drama Saving Hope remained strong and steady with 1,438,000 overnight viewers. The Mentalist did 1,176,000 at 10, although he already knew that.
Czech vs. Poland drew 652,000 to TSN’s daily Euro Cup soccer coverage. The evening NBA finals drew 471,000.
Justin Bieber got another outing on Global at 8 (540,000) followed by the Will Smith film Hancock (587,000).
Two imported sitcom reruns failed to crack 100,000 at 8 on City followed by Person of Interest (438,000). At 10 City aired two more sitcoms, 2 Broke Girls (241,000) and HIMYM (221,000).
CBC stuck with warmed over Nature of Things (336,000) and Doc Zone (343,000).
House of Bryan (365,000) stayed strong on HGTV, followed by the launch of reno master Jim Caruk’s new series Builder Boss (231,000), pretty robust considering the lack of promotion.
Take Me Out (228,000) and The Choice (370,000) kept the lights on at CTV Two. Nikita (70,000) did not.


CTV burnt off some old episodes of Whitney (497,000) and the already forgotten NBC sitcom Best Friends Forever (385,000). CSI New York (935,000) and Blue Bloods (1,054,000) still shone in reruns.
TSN saw Germany kick their ratings up to 917,000 in quarter final soccer action. The NHL Draft did even better, pulling an estimated, overnight 1 million even.
Global had The Glee Project (453,000) followed by Bones (626,000) and specialty call up Lost Girl (231,000).
CTV Two went with Shark Tank (268,000). City reran Murdoch Mysteries (261,000). A.N.T. Farm (289,000) flourished on Family channel.
Jays batted 594,000 on Sportsnet. TSN’s daily soccer scores: Ukraine/France 479,000, Sweden/England 731,000. The second round of the U.S. Open shot a 463,000.
CBC’s “Rejected Shows” theme night did about what you’d expect: Insecurity (127,000), Little Mosque (128,000) and Michael Tuesdays (91,000). Halifax Comedy Fest added 187,000.


Spain/France was the big draw in TSN’s afternoon Euro Cup action (1,132,000). A Jays game against Miami draws 575,000 on Sportsnet.


GOOOAAL! Soccer was the top draw once again in Canada on a Sunday, with a Stanley Cup-like 2,058,000 tuning in to see the quarterfinal game between England and Italy on TSN. Jays batted 572,000 against the Marlins on Sportsnet.
The shot-in-Vancouver sci-fi cop series Continuum went from 389,000 to 473,000 in its fifth week on Showcase.
CTV reran CanCon duo The Listener (522,000) and Saving Hope (422,000) followed by CSI (864,000).
City got another 240,000 to watch an episode of Murdoch Mysteries followed by back-to-back encores of America’s Got Talent (410,000, 406,000).
Global stuck with cartoon comedies The Simpsons (528,000), Bob’s Burgers (321,000), Family Guy (518,000) and American Dad (364,000). The Good Wife added 295,000 at 10.
CBC reran Heartland (330,000) and then the movie Happy Gilmore (710,000).
Mythbusters exploded to 465,000 on Discovery. Swam People scared up 346,000 on History. CTV Two recycled the MMVAs (137,000).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

That's a wrap: final days on the Flashpoint set

The cast and crew gather on the set for one last shot. Class dismissed
Closure is hard to come by on a TV series. For the folks behind Flashpoint, it arrived this week.
I was on the set Monday in Toronto when the main cast members gathered for their final scene together. Can't spill the details--the fifth and final, 12-episode season won't begin on CTV until September--but suffice to say some brewskies get popped and toasts are made.
Any series is important foe the people who are making it. A big budget, Canadian TV drama like Flashpoint employs well over a hundred people, from extras to technicians to producers, writers, directors, drivers and even the folks who provide the craft services goodies. Many gathered in the makeshift, east-end Toronto studio Monday for a final cast photo. It looked like one of those centre ice Stanley Cup championship shots.
In some ways, Flashpoint was more than just a TV show. It was launched right when U.S. networks like CBS were actively looking for ways to share production costs as the business model for television slammed hard into the recession as well as changing realities. Flashpoint's success on both sides of the border was important because it became the example of how the new model could work. A cop show, shot in Toronto without doubling for New York or Chicago, could be embraced by American audiences. And while the series became something of a summer bench player for CBS (while remaining a huge domestic hit for CTV), they also kept ordering more, an affirmation for Canadian stars, producers and other talent that, yes, we can play in their arena.
Executive producers Anne Marie la Traverse and Bill Mustos admit the mantle of being the not-so-little show that could was a burden at times. Both became experts in finessing their show through network meetings with Americans--and have the scars to prove it.
Both also said the show could have gone on--CTV wanted more--but neither wanted to come back for a sixth season with a smaller cast, or less production values. The decision was made to end it a year early, rather than a year late.
For showrunners Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern, this is a sad, triumphant, emotional week. Suddenly it was all ending; bits of set and wardrobe were being sold off to crew members on tables in the hallway.
 I spoke with them on the set and they seemed dazed at simply arriving at this point, as if they had been abducted by aliens and now released in some sort of Close Encounters moment. They had poured a lot into the last six years into making what they saw all along as an irresistible cop show. The fact that it all happened is still sinking in. 
Is this the end of 'Rico? Just on Flashpoint
I had suggested to Ellis a few years earlier he concoct a sniper scene on one of my favourite west end Toronto landmarks, the roof top of the defunct Westwood Theater out at Six Points in Etobicoke. Monday he told me he actually tried to make it so, but the paper work got a little complicated. While that one didn't happen, it must be cool just to almost be able to do something like that.
While we spoke, la Traverse interrupted, as did director David Frazee. A cast member was tripping over a word--"commendation." Ellis and Morgenstern were asked to come up with an alternative.
Several were suggested, but in the end the actor managed to say the word. It was apt, not just for the scene, but for the series and the moment. 
The showrunners praised the cast for taking their vision and running with it. Amy Jo Johnson, David Paekau and Sergio Di Zio got "commendation" for enhancing anything that was thrown their way.
I grabbed a few minutes with Enrico Colantoni and he spoke about the great joy he felt to have this closure with a series--the first time he`s had that experience. Just Shoot Me, Veronica Mars, ZOS, all left hanging.
Rico is one of those guys everyone respects, just a warm guy, a very generous and sensitive leader, and a hell of an actor.
Hugh Dillon: he's keeping the jacket
He also said it was time. He loved every moment working on the series but was glad it had gone five-and-out. Newly married, he has a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old and while he'll continue to make recurring appearances on Person of Interest, the next little while will be mainly about family.
He and Hugh Dillon had so much fun playing cops and robbers they're going to keep playing together, having formed a production company named after their deal at home as kids growing up--Latchkey Productions. They've already made a short film and have a series in development.
Dillon looks too at home in his special forces duds to hang 'em up. He savored the moment Monday, proud of the work and feeling blessed about his life, giving thanks, as he has said to me before, to his wife for screwing his rock star head back on and pointing him in the right direction. He talked about the rush of seeing all those billboard and bus shelter ads, of knowing they were a hit while they were half way through that first season.
There were other visitors to the set Monday. A couple of people who ducked real bullets at that Eaton Centre shooting had contacted the producers and were invited to the set. Dillon said he was moved when they told him they ducked for the floor and stayed motionless because that's what people in that situation were told to do on Flashpoint.
Autographs were signed and photos taken. Then it was back to work.
American or Canadian, a great TV series is one that not only touches you, but that you can touch. Flashpoint will go out this fall with that embraceable quality intact. It deserves all the closure it can get.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What I learned in Vegas stays in Vegas

LAS VEGAS--Some observations about this freaky little town in the dessert from Captain Obvious:
Ladies here always seem happy to help a fella from out of town out with a pointer or two (see photo, above). These kids were getting thrown out of the Wynn Thursday night for bringing their giant inflatable penis into the casino. Seems a deflating penis is not the image they want to project at the Wynn. Any suggestion of such a catastrophe is enough to get a casino security guard cranky. 
The girls did not seem to understand when I threatened to sue them for intellectual property theft.
Finally--a faster way to lose money than RIM stock
There is a slot machine at the Wynn Encore casino that costs at least one thousand dollars per play. It's framed in gold, tucked into the "High Limit Slot Player" room and it gets used at least once a day according to the dude at the desk. It can deliver a million dollar payoff. It does not, as I discovered, take Canadian Tire money.
There do not appear to be too many slot machines based on TV shows at the Wynn/Encore. There are Wheel of Fortune machines and a few featuring The Monkees. The surviving Monkees, I'm sure, get nothing out of this unless they put money into it. Their cash for life lottery win came in in 1966.
There is a slot machine themed around Fox's American Idol, with Ryan Seacrest grinning from the screen. Thank goodness, the kid needs the money. If you win a dawg barks.
Put your clothes back on--Richard Hatch is not on the Survivor slot machine
CBS's game opera Survivor, with caricatures of Rudy, Rupert and Jerri, is also among the slot machines on display at the Wynn/Encore. Not featured is a drawing of Richard Hatch. Why remind customers that their winnings are subject to the tax man?
Venice, anyone?
The nearby and majestic Venetian Palazzo Resort houses an enormous recreation of Venice street life inside its doors. Everything is themed to look like you're outside in Italy, with canals weaving around the high end shops tucked inside the quaint street scape. Gondolas weave through the maze of people and merchandise like hookers on the strip. It all looks very cool at night, although there is a Pirates of the Caribbean quality to it all. Plus it seems kooky when the waiter asks if you want to sit inside or outside at one of the cafes--and you realize it is all inside. 
In an effort to hypnotize players into a deep, impenetrable, money-spending coma, constantly pumped into the game rooms at the Wynn is the noxious music of Michael Buble.

Vegas Day Two: paddling by air, land and sea

Brioux and the Bryans. Want an interview? Jump in the lake
LAS VEGAS--Had a breathtaking opportunity to get a bird's eye view of the route the Paddling Bryans took along the Colorado river Thursday on a helicopter tour of Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon. Much thanks to publicist extraordinaire Nikki Lamb Tudico and Travel + Escape for the lift.
The Bryans are two dudes from Quebec--Bryan Adams and Bryan Wallwork. Had a great time speaking with them in Lake Mead Wednesday, the large body of water made from swelling up the Colorado with Hoover Dam. The first season of their series airs now on Travel + Escape. Season two, which features this Colorado excursion, begins in October.
It was bloody hot in Nevada this week, so the interview was conducted in the only sensible place--right in the lake. This is where I want to conduct all future interviews.
Lake Mead from the air
The gents also let me take a turn paddling around the lake, a fairly placid body of water perfect for a little outdoor exercise. It was fun to practice the J-stroke, a basic steering paddle made even more basic by Wallwork, who showed me how to  use the side of the canoe as a guide.
These two are a real odd couple. Wallwork is the wild man, a real bent paddle. Adams (no relation to the singer) is the good cop, a right nice lad. Together, they're a TV series.
The boys told me it was tough work navigating the rapids further up the Colorado. Their original plan was to sneak their canoe right into the waters at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but there are rules about this, and permits are needed, and it could take years. So no canyon run, not even Christy Canyon.
The Bryans will paddle on through July, taking them they hope to the Mexican border. There Wallwork will have to show his Canadian passport, and good luck with that. The thing stays in his shorts and is a mess, generally sopping wet with pages all stuck together. Carumba!
The Grand Canyon chopper run is the world's 3rd busiest
The view out the window of Papillon Helicopters' EcoStar EC 130 put the Paddling Bryans route in perspective. You could see how bendy the Colorado is, although hard to tell from the air how rapid the rapids. You can see the colder and muddier river waters collide with the warm lake. It's green-ish hue was explained by pilot "Hogi," as due to the high copper content in the lake basin.
A former Mississauga, Ont. resident, Hogi (yes, his dad is a Jonny Quest fan) survived several stints with the U.S. Navy to become a Papillon pilot. Now he knows where all the fish are hid, how deep the water is in Lake Mead (as deep as 190 feet at the most recent measure) and all there is to know about the canyon and the environs. Ask for him if you ever take this "bucket list" trip.
More on the sky tour, including video, in a future post.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hockey Night in Vegas

Stacey and Nikki make a Moose sandwich apres NHL Awards
LAS VEGAS--The NHL Awards at the Wynn Hotel and Casino? With a name like Wynn, no wonder there were no Leafs walking the grounds.
I'm down here on the dime of Travel + Escape, not to attend hockey banquets but to interview their two dudes where are canoe-ing nearby in Lake Mead, the Paddling Bryans. Couldn't help but notice, however, that the NHL Awards were happening right at the very same resort.
Travel+Escape's Nikki Lamb Tudico ventured out after the Awards and bagged a Moose, Mark Messier, seen above with Nikki's pal Stacey Burnett. Ex-Oiler Grant Fuhr was part of Messier's posse at one of the Wynn resorts 70 or 80 bars.
They had a red carpet set up outside the Wynn Theatre where the big show was taking place. Every TV in every bar in the joint was tuned to replays of the Stanley Cup finals during the day Wednesday and to the Awards themselves were on screens everywhere Wednesday night.
There was no evidence of the Hart or Con Smythe being tossed into the Bellagio fountain this morning, although the men's room outside the Wynn theatre was closed for repairs. Tourists dressed in Kings, Devils and Rangers gear were all over the casino. Leaf fans, unfortunately, were directed down the street to Circus Circus.
It's Christmas every day inside the fanciful Wynn resort
This Wynn resort is crazy opulent,  with neon red chandeliers, cabana-rimmed pools everywhere and nothing but gold trim. The place looks like the lining of a Don Cherry blazer. Even the gold fish in the many pools are 24-carat. Was wondering how they managed to keep all the lawns outside to perfectly green in this dessert heat. The answer: AstroTurf. Everywhere.
In case you were wondering, room service will set you back $28.10 at the Encore for orange juice and cereal. Talk about freshly squeezed! At least you get two boxes of Raisin Bran.
Read SI's Adrian Dater's account of the NHL Awards Vegas bash here. He's right about this not being a hockey town and how odd it seems for NHLers to be making this scene. The Wynn is one spectacular, Technicolor Inn, however, Bugsy Malone would be astounded (and probably more than a little bitter).
NHLers reduced the Wynn theatre restroom to a penalty box

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This week's podcast: paddling to Las Vegas

Paddling Bryan's Wallwork and Adams. Not the singer
LAS VEGAS--Everything that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? It should be everything that happens before you get to Vegas should be thoroughly fact checked. Case in point: I blabbed about my trip to Vegas to CHML's Scott Thompson and I got one big key fact wrong:
Bryan Adams the singer is not the Bryan Adams who is one of the two Paddling Bryans. Bryan Adams and Bryan Wallwork are two dudes from Quebec who return to Travel + Escape this fall with the second season of their outdoor adventure series. The boys are attempting to paddle their canoe down the Colorado river, eventually passing into Mexico. I caught up with them Wednesday on Lake Mead, the warm body of water created by the Hoover Dam. If they're going to attempt to cross over Hoover Dam, well, all I can say is that will be one hell of a portage.
More about all that in the next post or two, but I got my facts wrong heading down here and told Scott that the other Bryan Adams was mixed up in this and probably paddling with his guitar. Scott will be laughing his ass off about this the next time I speak with him, but you can hear me get it wrong now. Listen in here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Brioux Report: Wallenda walks over Stanley

Here’s a shocker—a guy walking on a wire across Niagara Falls beat the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs as the most-watched program of the week in Canada. Leafs should check to see if he can play goal.
Otherwise a week full of Euro Cup soccer, NBA finals and Jays baseball booted reruns in the ratings. Canadian-made fare like The Listener, Saving Hope and Continuum thrived. Finally, the MMVAs kept a lot of 13 year old girls off the streets.
Here’s how all it all played out across Canada in prime time among adults 2+ the week of June 11 to 18 according to overnight estimates:


The Stanley Cup finals drew to a close with 3,133,000 CBC viewers catching the Kings wrapping this sucker up in six. Up close to a million from one Monday earlier.
City kept things cookin’ with Hell’s Kitchen (895,000), two reruns of Rules of Engagement (146,000, 100,000) and cable pickup Shameless (117,000).
CTV had reruns of Mike & Molly (772,000) and Two and a Half Men (596,000) then s new episode of Masterchef (1,274,000). A rerun of Castle drew 968,000 at 10.
Global opened with Psych (484,000) followed by reruns of House (391,000) and Hawaii FIVE-0 (581,000).
Beating most everything on the broadcasters was the third and final episode of Hatfields & McCoys on History, where 795,000 tuned in at 8.
The TSN soccer scores: France & England 709,000, Ukraine & Sweden 578,000.
Jays/Nats batted 463,000 on Sportsnet.
CTV Two had nothing. Big show on Discovery was River Monsters (330,000).
WWE Raw bodyslammed 260,000 on Score.

Twiggy the waterskiing squirrel proves America's Got Talent

Hockey over, CBC re-ran the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert from one week earlier and found 438,000 to sit through it twice. No big boost to The National this time (700,000).
Global did well as usual with reruns of NCIS (1,027,000) plus NCIS: Los Angeles (1,103,000). Canada Sings followed at 10 (446,000).
America’s Got Talent (1,198,000) continues to pull them in at City. And what’s with this summer appetite for cooking shows? Hell’s Kitchen fed 1,027,000 at 8. City then borrowed back-to-back Louie from their FX stash and got squat (152,000, 73,000).
CTV had the third season premiere of Hot in Cleveland (861,000) followed by their debut of what I thought was a pretty good little NBC burn off, Bent (516,000). Masterchef followed at 9 (1,301,000) leading into Love in the Wild (965,000).
Criminal Minds (284,000) was the big draw on CTV Two, in summer shut down mode with a rerun of Kramer vs. Kramer (90,000).
The Blue Jays were on deck at Sportsnet, pulling 594,000 against the Nationals. TSN soccer scores: Greece & Czech 412,000, Poland & Russia 588,000. The evening final of the Miami/Oakland NBA playoff tilt drew 392,000.
Pawn Stars fetched 424,000 and 400,000 on History. Deadliest Catch hooked 392,000 on Discovery. Pretty Little Liars seduced 213,000 on MuchMusic.


CTV saw So You Think You Can Dance waltz off with 1,390,000 viewers over two hours. The Listener slipped slightly to 998,000 in the overnights.
The new, U.S. cable reboot of Dallas drew 655,000 out of the gate on Bravo. How long till “Who Re-shot J.R.?”
Hockey over, the Queen milked for all she’s worth, it was back to the cupboard for CBC. Ron James did surprisingly well for a random Wednesday night, drawing 635,000 for his “Back Home” comedy special. Doyle repeated to 381,000.
Global trotted out Dogs in the City (591,000) followed by The Office (144,000) and a 90-minute, “Party Songs” edition of Duets (469,000).                       
City stuck with The Middle (162,000), Suburgatory (223,000) and Modern Family (310,000). Rules of Engagement slid in at 9:30 (228,000) followed by a second new episode of Murdoch Mysteries (319,000).
CTV Two went Flashpoint (239,000), Criminal Minds (515,000), CSI (469,000). History scared 556,000 with Swamp People. TSN soccer scores: Denmark & Portugal 500,000, Netherlands & Germany 608,000. The late CFL pre-season football scores on TSN: Toronto/Hamilton 336,000, Sask/B.C. 437,000.
The Real Housewives of Vancouver drew 141,000 at 10 p.m. on Slice.
CTV reran The Big Bang Theory three times in a row counting the 7:30 slot (1,472,000, 1,761,000, 1,684,000). The new shot-in-Toronto hospital drama Saving Hope gained 80,000 viewers in its second week (1,601,000). The Mentalist did 1,403,000 at 10, although he already knew that.
Global showed The Incredible Hulk to 718,000 fans. All but 188,000 left when The Office aired at 10:30.
City repeated America’s Got Talent (513,000) then ran Person of Interest (527,000) followed by two U.S. sitcom repeats.
It only took a week for CTV to bounce Take Me Out over to CTV Two (253,000). The Choice followed (271,000).
CBC stuck with warmed over Nature of Things (292,000) and Doc Zone (212,000).
TSN’s daily soccer scores: Italy/Croatia 518,000, Spain/Ireland 498,000. The evening NBA finals drew 473,000.
House of Bryan was open to 316,000 and 360,000 on HGTV. SpongeBob soaked up 366,000 on YTV.


Nik Wallenda walking across Niagara Falls drew a record 3,888,000 as CTV’s simulcast of Megastunts set a modern ratings record in Canada for a Friday night special. The hour-long “countdown” shows drew an estimated 1,547,000.
CBC’s odd “Rejected Shows” theme night did about what you’d expect: Insecurity (136,000), Little Mosque (113,000) and Michael Tuesdays (57,000).
Global had The Glee Project (279,000) followed by Bones (524,000) and specialty call up Lost Girl (176,000).
CTV Two went with Shark Tank (359,000). City reran Murdoch Mysteries (279,000). Family channel did very well with back-to-back A.N.T. Farm (336,000, 354,000) followed by Let it Shine (477,000).
Jays batted 594,000 on Sportsnet. TSN’s daily soccer scores: Ukraine/France 479,000, Sweden/England 731,000. The second round of the U.S. Open shot a 463,000.


No hockey. Canada grinds to a halt.
The Firm did 349,000 Saturday night at 10 on Global, with a SNL repeat pulling 303,000.
City aired THREE MORE Murdoch Mysteries episodes (197,000, 192,000 and 193,000 viewers).
A Czech/Poland soccer match drew 592,000 on TSN, where round three of the U.S. Open scored 507,000. The Blue Jays drew 530,000 on Sportsnet.


Soccer was the top draw once again in Canada on a Sunday, with an estimated 927,000 tuning in to see Portugal vs.  The Netherlands on TSN. B-ball playoff action shot 316,000 on TSN, while the final round of the U.S. Open shot a 243,000 as Tiger faded.
Jays batted 703,000 against the Phillies on Sportsnet.
The annual MuchMusic Video Awards drew 699,000, with another 376,000 tuning in for the red carpet pre-show. This seemed to steal viewers from the new shot-in-Vancouver sci-fi cop series Continuum, which dropped from 531,000 to 389,000 in its fourth week on Showcase.
CTV was a shadow of its usual powerhouse Sunday self with reruns of Law & Order SVU (536,000), Saving Hope (377,000) and CSI (635,000).
Global stuck with cartoon comedies The Simpsons (685,000), Bob’s Burgers (377,000), Family Guy (485,000) and American Dad (407,000).
CBC reran Heartland (310,000) and then the movie Wild Hogs (816,000).
A War of 1812 special was a hit on History (420,000). Mythbusters exploded to 338,000 on Discovery.
Bravo saw 127,000 turn up for an hour and 15-minute episode of The Borgias.

Monday, June 18, 2012

TONIGHT: Suits suits up for a second season

Visited the impressive and friendly set of the legal drama Suits last week in Toronto. The series returns for a second season tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo in Canada and Thursdays at 10/9c on USA Network in the States.
Suits shoots at the same former munitions factory in Downsview where Covert Affairs is lensed. By crossing a gigantic, wide concrete hallway, you can sort of walk between Washington (Covert's locale) and Manhattan (the Suits setting).
Talk about multi-functional. The same huge building also houses a church and a roller derby rink!
The Suit set is stunning (say that three times fast). The legal offices are all chrome, glass and teak and stretch along much of one very large soundstage. Outside the windows is a crazy long and very realistic photo scrim of the view from a midtown Manhattan skyscraper. You can see across the Hudson to the boroughs and the panorama is stunningly three dimensional.
Louis Litt's only a junior partner at Pearson-Hardman but you wouldn't know it from his office. The room is as big as a bowling alley. The walls are covered with fake law degrees and especially photos of Litt, played by Rick Hoffman.
Speaking of fake law degrees, I spoke with Suits stars Gabriel Macht (Harvey Specter) and Toronto-born Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross) between takes. The two look like lawyers in their designer suits, especially Macht.
I asked them if either was ever temped--having played a lawyer--to defend himself in a real court of law. Adams, who plays fake lawyer Ross (the character is a former drug dealer who is brilliant in court even though he doesn't have a law degree), said hell yes--especially after he was hit by a bus in Los Angeles.
Whoa, in case his mom is reading this, he's fine. "It sounds way worse than it was," he qualifies. "The bus was moving very slowly. Basically I bounced off the thing, got a scrape on my arm."
Adams was sitting on his Honda scooter at the time. What the hell, he thought, the bus company owes me for the damage to my twelve-hundred dollar scooter. Time to change into TV lawyer man.
"For about three days I was doing the research, prepping for a case and thinking, this would be great press for the show," he thought. "But as soon as I actually got into what it literally takes to get into anything legal..." Adams realized he was not cut out for the real legal ordeal.
He didn't hire a real lawyer, either. "It ended up costing my $400 to fix the scooter he says. "What was I going to do--stick it to the man? The L.A. bus company has an army of lawyers."
Macht had a hard time topping that story. "Well, I got hit by a train last month," he joked.
He says his dad has asked him to put on one of those fancy Suits suits and represent him in a property dispute with a neighbour but he's thought the better of it. He says he couldn't walk into a real court without what he walks onto the set of Suits with--a writer. "I could maybe do it in a Cyrano de Bergerac kind of way," he says.

MuchMusic Video Awards are over

I didn't see a minute of Sunday's MMVAs in Toronto but here is a photo of Katy Perry as a big moth or something.
Below is a photo of some young girl in a classic, well polished, 1965 Mustang. Detroit's original "Pony Car" was styled under the direction of project design chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman and John Foster in Ford's Lincoln-Mercury Division design studios. The car originally sold for US$2,368,000 and was an instant success. In those first 18 months, a million Mustangs were built.
If you missed it the first time, you can see the car again as MuchMusic repeats the MMVAs tonight at 7 p.m. and Wednesday night at 6 p.m. ET.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Battle of the hot dogs Chicago style on Conan

Conan O'Brien's kinda been off the radar lately, tucked away over there on TBS. This clip, from last week's triumphant trip to Chicago, shows his late night series can still be the funniest thing on television--especially when an old friend shows up to bark at not-so-innocent bystanders.

Friday, June 15, 2012

This week's podcast: CTV, ABC go over the falls

Wallenda practices Thursday untethered and alive. Ida Mae Astute/ABC
This week, Scott Thompson at CHML wanted to know if I thought Nik Wallenda will be a bit hit on TV Friday night as he walks across Niagara Falls. "Is this Harry Houdini TV come back to us?" asks Scott.
My take is that this is silly season, the time of year when these things can work. I actually remember Evel Knievel and the fiasco that was the Snake River Canyon jump way back in the '70s. People will always tune in to see somebody fall to their death on television--except the guy is tethered, so really, it's no different than The Bachelor.
ABC and CTV are carrying it live over three hours of prime time tonight, so hopefully Wallenda makes it half way across. Look for plenty of ads for Depends.
Scott also asks about the Stanley Cup ratings, which rebounded in Canada on CBC in the final round. Scott thinks that might have something to do with the porn star behind the New Jersey bench. Don't think somebody isn't talking to her now about a series.
Scott asks about many, many, many other things this week. Make yourself a sandwich and get comfy and listen in here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Brioux Report: Kings become Canada's team

To the great relief of everyone at CBC, hockey finally heated back up as the Los Angeles Kings were embraced as the Cinderella team of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. That chick behind the Devils’ bench with the big show of support probably didn’t hurt, either.
A good week also for several Canadian returnees, including Rookie Blue, The Listener, Murdoch Mysteries (on seven times on City) and the new Showcase breakout Continuum.
Here’s how all it all played out across Canada in prime time among adults 2+ the week of June 4 to 10 according to overnight estimates:


The Stanley Cup finals brought the fans back with each game building on the next in terms of audience numbers. Monday’s third game drew 2,155,000 on CBC.
Beating most everything on the broadcasters was the second episode of Hatfields & McCoys on History, where 925,000 tuned in at 8.
City made some summer noise with Howard Stern and America’s Got Talent (1,043,000). Hell’s Kitchen (467,000) and Shameless (143,000) followed.
CTV had reruns of Mike & Molly (813,000) and Two and a Half Men (720,000) then the summer premiere of Masterchef (967,000). A rerun of Castle drew 1,070,000 at 10.
Global opened with Psych (481,000) followed by reruns of House (542,000) and Hawaii FIVE-0 (800,000).
CTV Two had nothing. Big show on Discovery was Moonshiners (345,000).
Top Chef Canada simmered to 266,000 on Food. WWE Raw bodyslammed 288,000 on Score. An NBC playoff game between Oklahoma and San Antonio drew 235,000 on TSN.

Her Royal Highness Betty Windsor and clan

If only the Queen could skate! CBC drew 1,652,000 with Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, featuring former singer Paul McCartney. The carry over to The National was jolly good, with 1,352,000 catching the CBC newscast at 10. This must be the first time in years that a non election night edition of The National drew higher overnight numbers than both the CTV National News at 11 (1,082,000) and Global National News at 6:30 (876,000).
Global did well with reruns of NCIS (1,124,000) plus NCIS: Los Angeles (1,177,000). Canada Sings followed at 10 (514,000).
America’s Got Talent (1,105,000) continues to pull them in at City. Hell’s Kitchen fed 611,000.
CTV has new summer offerings with Masterchef at 8 (861,000) followed by the two hour premiere of Love in the Wild (782,000).
Criminal Minds (465,000) was the big draw on CTV Two.
The Blue Jays were on deck at Sportsnet, pulling 679,000 against the White Sox. In NBA playoff action, SpongeBob soaked up 350,000 on YTV. Boston/Miami dunked 311,000 on TSN. Pawn Stars fetched 244,000 and 278,000 on History. Deadliest Catch hooked 371,000 on Discovery. Pretty Little Liars seduced 191,000 on MuchMusic.

Game Four of the Stanley Cup finales looked like it might be a sweep for the Kings. The possibility of hockey ending helped boost ratings to 3,014,000 CBC viewers. CBC brass hadn’t cheered this hard for the Devils since before the budget cuts.
CTV held its own opposite the NHL playoffs with So You Think You Can Dance waltzing off with 1,390,000. The Listener kept its million-a-week streak alive at 10 with 1,018,000 viewers.
Global had an all new night: Dogs in the City opened with 687,000 followed by back-to-back episodes of The Glee Project (352,000 and 423,000).
City stuck with The Middle (293,000), Suburgatory (243,000), Modern Family (408,000) and Happy Endings (253,000). The fifth season premiere of Murdoch Mysteries opened to 385,000 against the hockey game.
Criminal Minds did 577,000 on CTV Two, followed by CSI (532,000). Flashpoint opened at 299,000.
The Jays batted 612,000 on Sportsnet. History scared 349,000 with Swamp People. SpongeBob did 320,000 on YTV. The Real Housewives of Vancouver drew 134,000 at 10 p.m. on Slice. TSN netted 256,000 for a NBA playoff game.

Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith, Rookie Blue. Caitlin Cronenberg/ABC
No more The Big Bang Theory so CTV opened with the horrible dating gamer Take Me Out (933,000) followed by the new shot-in-Toronto hospital drama Saving Hope (1,520,000). Hope’s launch was not a hopeful in the U.S. on NBC, where it drew 3.1 million in the overnights. The Mentalist did 1,073,000 on CTV at 10.
Global opened with a two hour episodes of the new talent series Duets (666,000) followed by the third season return of their shot-in-Toronto drama, Rookie Blue (1,341,000).  
City repeated Murdoch (232,000) then ran Person of Interest (562,000) followed by two sitcom repeats. The Choice was chosen by 295,000 over at CTV Two.
No hockey on CBC, just reruns of Romeos & Juliets (170,000 and Love Lies Bleeding 171,000).
The Jays and The White Sox batted a robust 735,000 on Sportsnet, with 491,000 of those in Ontario. NBA semi finalists Miami/Boston got up to 335,000 on TSN. House of Bryan was open to 269,000 and 345,000 on HGTV.


CTV went Whitney (450,000), Up All Night (236,000), CSI: New York (947,000) and Blue Bloods (1,133,000).
No hockey, so CBC reran Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (243,000).
Global had The Exes (227,000), a comedy burn off (223,000), Bones (698,000) and specialty call up Lost Girl (199,000).
CTV Two went with Shark Tank (359,000). City reran Murdoch Mysteries again! (359,000).
Here are the preliminary Euro Cup soccer scores on TSN: Poland/Greece 354,000, Russia/Czech 434,000.

"Boobs Behind DeBoer" was trending during playoff coverage

Devils staved off elimination once again with 3,109,000 Stanley Cup hockey fans tuning on on CBC.
The Firm did 317,000 Saturday night at 10 on Global, with a SNL repeat pulling 402,000.
City aired THREE MORE Murdoch Mysteries episodes (237,000, 290,000 and 270,000 viewers).
The Blue Jays drew 493,000 on Sportsnet.
Germany/Portugal was the big Euro Cup preliminary draw on TSN, fetching 1,027,000 soccer nuts. Netherlands/Denmark did 529,000 on TSN2.  The Belmont Stakes galloped off with 290,000 on TSN, where Boston/Miami brought their NBA playoff tilt to 417,000.


Soccer kicked everything else Sunday with TSN scoring big with preliminary games between Spain and Italy (1,101,000) and Ireland and Croatia (799,000).
Otherwise the night was a quiet split. America’s Got Talent encored to 729,000 and 599,000 on City, where Secret Millionaire drew 405,000 and America’s Funniest Home Videos did 486,000.
The new shot-in-Vancouver sci-fi cop series Continuum continued to be a draw on Showcase, pulling 531,000 in its third week.
CTV repeated both The Listener (450,000 at 7) and Saving Hope (543,000 at 9).
Global stuck with cartoon comedies The Simpsons (553,000), Bob’s Burgers (445,000), Family Guy (563,000) and American Dad (416,000). Howie Do It at 7 did 358,000.
Jays batted 464,000 for another game against the Braves on Sportsnet.
No hockey, so CBC went Gunless. The Paul Gross film did 502,000.
Mythbusters exploded to 478,000 on Discovery.
Bravo saw 106,000 turn up for an hour and 15-minute episode of The Borgias.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

J.R. Ewing--he's mean, he's rich, and he's back

Back in business: Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman
Way back when TV first started feeding my family, the biggest star there was was Larry Hagman. Dallas was on at least a dozen TV Guide Canada covers in the '80s as readers couldn't get enough of J.R., sexy Victoria Principal, Southfork and all those Ewing shenanigans.
TNT hopes to strike oil again with its reboot of Dallas, which starts Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET (simulcast on Bravo in Canada).
Dallas the first time around was like Mad Men and American Idol all rolled into one. It was a big, fat, cheesy soap opera, but some A-list actors (Barbara Bel Geddes and Jim Davis played the founding family) and that rousing theme song just seemed to elevate it into Must See territory--on a Friday night!
Timing is everything and people were less cynical and more fascinated by the lifestyles of the rich and famous back then. The back-stabbing Ewing clan just seemed like the go-to family at the dawn of the Reagan years.
Not just TV Guide, but new magazines like People and new TV magazines like Entertainment Tonight just kept feeding the Dallas-mania.
Heck, I even did a "celebrity chef" story for TV Guide Canada on Ken Kercheval's popcorn farm. (Kercheval played J.R.`s nemesis Cliff Barnes). "Who the heck gets into farming these days," Hagman told his buddy Kercheval back before ethanol subsidies made farming chic again.
Hagman was a pretty tough get by the time I was actually writing anything for the Guide. He was already notorious for his "Silent Fridays" where he refused to speak at all.
Hagman, recovering from treatments for throat cancer, looked frail but was in fine form last January at the TV critics press tour in Pasadena, Calif. There with old pals Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray and the rest of the cast of the new Dallas, he talked about those "Silent Fridays" in the post session scrum.
He says he doesn't observe the talking ban anymore, "but I should because I talk too damn much on the weekends."
It was a doctor who told him to rest his voice on weekends so he literally stopped talking at all on Fridays--for 20 years. "I had to kind of mime," he says, saying the silent treatment actually helped him get rid of tension.
So did gallons of alcohol. Hagman is candid about his binge drinking, a lifelong addiction that nearly cost him his life. Only a liver transplant saved him.
Hagman is also famous among founding TCA members for a party he hosted at his house in Malibu 25 or so years ago. I wasn't there but former Toronto Star man Jim Bawden says it was one for the ages. There were so many people in Hagman's house the washroom blocked up and folks who had to go had to go next door--to Burgess Meredith's house! There they found the Penguin, awake and in his housecoat, sitting at his table with several critics having their own little party well into the night.
There's also a side story about one nosy reporter who went upstairs at Hagman's house and went through his sock and underwear drawer. Back then critics would go to any length to get to the bottom of a story.
Hagman never held a grudge, attending the 20th anniversary of the TCA Awards six summers ago in Los Angeles. With him at the time was his wife of 58 years Maj and former TCA president and Houston resident Anne Hodges.
It was fun to see him swarmed a bit like the old days at last January's press tour. The main difference between J.R. then and J.R. today is an obvious one. "I'm playing my age," says the 80 year old. "That slows you down a little bit but I’m still as mean as ever—maybe a little meaner because he’s got more experience at it."
Could anybody else ever play J.R.? Somebody almost did when there was talk of a Dallas feature film--John Travolta!
"He's a wonderful actor," Hagman said last January, recalling that the two worked together on the film Primary Colors. "He could play the hell out of it, but…I’m better I think."
Producers now might see Travolta more as Miss Ellie.
For more on Hagman and the new Dallas, follow this link to the story I wrote earlier this week for The Canadian Press.

Silence is golden on CBC's Stanley Cup finale

Kudos to Jim Hughson for letting the game speak for itself during the dying minutes of the Kings' Stanley Cup triumph Monday night. With empty net goals going in and the game well out of reach, the veteran Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man wisely kept his mouth shut and allowed the compelling pictures tell the story.
This has been going on for a few years now--not sure who started it--but it is a lovely way to end the season.
It was fun to see LA get its hockey freak on after 45 years of waiting for the cup. (Cool to hear James Brown's "I Feel Good" playing over the Staples Center P.A.). Seriously, what other city's fans would tolerate such a crazy long stretch of time between Stanley Cup runs...oh, yeah.
As usual the CBC post game crew--particularly the always steady Scott Oake--did a fine job wrangling sound bites from the victorious team. I swear, however, some two year old is going to get run over by a camera crew now that every kid gets automatically tossed onto the ice immediately following a Stanley Cup victory.
Dustin Brown may be a shy captain but he said all that needed to be said last night. Asked if those two losses to the Devils threw a scare into his team, he said, "We had an opportunity to do something special on home ice and we did and we're champions."
Martin Brodeur was gracious and valiant in defeat, an articulate spokesman for the other side.
Ratings for the final round rebounded after, with no home team to cheer on, many Canadians tuned out rounds two and three. Monday's clincher brought 3,133,000 viewers to CBC. Saturday's fifth game drew 3,109,000 overnight viewers. Last Wednesdays fourth game scored 3,014,000 and Monday before that netted 2,155,000.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Robot Chicken clucks past 100 episode mark

 You know how you only ever see the robot chicken in the opening credits of Robot Chicken? That changes tonight with the 100th episode (10:30 p.m., Teletoon at Night).
The creepy cyborg chicken busts out of the coop tonight and goes all postal, slicing and dicing his way up a winding staircase in an animated homage to martial arts master Tony Jaa.
"We wanted to do something for the 100th episode and we realized we hadn’t paid a lot of service to this mythology we created," co-creator Seth Green told me on the phone last week. "Tom, one of our writers, pitched a Tony Jaa "The Protector" parody. It's an amazing scene where they fight up a circular stairwell for 10 minutes of unbroken footage. It's beautiful, we couldn’t even get close to it, but we wanted to pay homage."
The episode also goofs on Yogi Bear and Boo-boo in a weird Power Ranger mash-up; see the clip above.
Green is working on the sixth season of Robot Chicken right now, as well as a half hour special goofing on super heroes from DC comics. As for any more Austin Powers movies with Mike Myers, "I'm sure I've heard exactly the same things you have, but nothing official. Mike, he is the type of guy who puts stuff out when he feels like he’s got it, he never rushes, which I really admire."
Read more in the story I wrote about the 100th episode of Robot Chicken in Sunday's Toronto Star.