Thursday, June 6, 2013

Upfronts Day Two: Global's got Mike Fox, Ironside, Dracula, loads up on specialty side

Barbara Williams
Shaw Media is a dominant player on the specialty side in Canada. Channels such as History, Showcase and Slice all had big years.
Keeping them stocked with content is SVP Barbara Williams' job. Rivals say Williams was the big buyer last month at the L.A. screenings.
It doesn't seem that way when you just look at the new Global schedule.Eight new shows will air this fall. All those other networks add up to 60 new shows joining 90 returning series. Williams emphasized that it added up to 600 hours of Canadian content.
Again, not on Global, although two original dramas are in the offing for mid-season.
The Can-con was mostly on the specialty side. A big success was Slice's Big Brother Canada, which will be back and air around the same time next year. The Real Housewives of Vancouver, however, is "on hold" for a season and iffy after that. Williams says other cities are being considered.
Global owned much of the first half of the week on Canada in prime time in 2012-13. Some U.S. scheduling moves, especially at CBS, has given Williams simulcast headaches, however, especially on Monday night where Hawaii FIVE-0 shifts to Friday.
Williams plugs the hole with what she calls the big buzz drama of the year, The Blacklist. It stars James Spader as the FBI's most wanted criminal who turns on other baddies to help the feds. The Headless Horseman drama Sleepy Hollow also joins Global Mondays.
Jack Gore and Michael J. Fox. Eric Leibowitz/NBC
Wednesdays underwent the biggest makeover. Anchored as always by Survivor at 8, two comedies--Sean Hayes Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show--air at 9. A remake of Ironside, starring Blair Underwood as a wheelchair-bound cop, closes the night.
Williams sees snagging the Fox show as "a big win for us." Certainly the sitcom should open big, especially in Canada, where Fox is gold. He plays a news anchor who returns to TV despite battling Parkinson's, a touching storyline that closes mirrors real life.
Thursday opens with two more comedies, Welcome to the Family starring Mike O'Malley as a dad (the premise sounds a lot like CBC's 18 to Life) and Will Arnett's latest attempt, The Millers.
Dracula stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the count. Global is well stocked for mid-season with the Greg Kinnear drama Rake, which plays like House as a lawyer. Jack is back on Global, too, with the re-booted 24 launching in the spring of 2014. Almost Human, a cool J.J. Abrams futuristic cop show, is also in reserve.
James Spader stars in the creepy NBC pickup The Blacklist
Williams says she loads up with Yankee simulcasts in the fall to platform Can-con in the Winter. Just ordered into full production is Remedy, a hospital drama from the team behind King, Greg Spottiswood and Bernie Zukerman. Cleaners and orderlies are as much a part of this series as the doctors. Williams called it Upstairs Downstairs Hospital.
Working the Engels is a new one camera comedy from sisters Jane and Katie Ford. Dad dies and family bands together and hilarity ensues, we are told.
As for Bomb Girls, Williams repeated all the talking points: it was originally only supposed to run six episodes. The 18 made told the story brilliantly. She will "absolutely make sure" it finishes up with a two hour finale this Winter.
Williams spun the season numbers her way, claiming victory in the A18-49 demo with six of the Top-10 shows for the season. (CTV says it had five of the Top-10 A25-54). Her shows broke 2 million 115 times last season, she said, with NCIS, NCIS: LA and Survivor pulling most of that load.
Global also claimed to have the No. 1 new show last year--Elementary. CTV says it is The Following. The truth is they both were strong draws, but Global's show was a true fall start.
Williams pointed out that The Bible, Vikings and Big Brother Canada all pulled a million plus some weeks on specialty.New highs were reached on Nat Geo, Slice and Food.
One specialty channel not doing so well these days--TVTropolis--will be rebranded as Dtour starting Aug. 26. Williams says it is about people taking detours in life. Brett Michaels was used as an example. Seems the sleazy rocker is now an RV expert.
Queen (of daytime?) Latifah
It was also announced that Toronto newscaster Leslie Roberts will be joining Global's Morning Show. He'll keep the 6 p.m. shift, too, which will make for long days.
It was also announced that Shaw/Global has teamed up with twitter for a groundbreaking venture in Canada. VP Digital Paul Burns says this "twitter amplifier" will offer viewers an enhanced viewing experience, with outtakes and links to new vid files adding to the TV experience.
A few U.S. broadcasters, notably ESPN and Fox, are already Twitter partners in similar deals. Newly minted Twitter Canada boss, Kirstine Stewart, is in on the caper. (Twitter Canada officially launches June 13).
Burns laughed at my suggestion for the Shaw-Twitter venture--"Shitter." probably best to see it as a Global-Twitter deal and call it "Glitter."
Also making the Shaw scene was guest talent Queen Latifah, who is hosting an upcoming afternoon talk show, Daniel Day Kim from Hawaii FIVE-0, who has spent 10 years in Hawaii now between Lost and this show, and Jesslyn Gilsig from Vikings. She says the first episode of the second season is "really shocking" and that "every single one of these characters is expendable." Sounds like Game of Thrones.
Dean McDermott gets Chopped
Blair Underwood talked about shooting scenes in a wheelchair as the new Ironside. Ana Ortiz and Susan Lucci--two of the Devious Maids, the new series from Marc Cherry--blabbed about that series. It starts later this month.
Blast from the past Alan Thicke was in the house with his young wife Tanya Callau. They're In the Thicke of It next season, going all Osbourne in a home set reality show. Thicke says it falls somewhere between "Larry David and the Kardashians," which is setting the bar high and low at the same time.
Shaw went for the biggest non-star at the upfronts award with Dean McDermott. Tori' Spelling's hubby will host the cooking show Chopped Canada.
Rob Salem asked the Elephant in the room question--how are things with the missus? There are tabloid reports of a rift. McDermott says "Everything's fantastic. Just consider the source. You know how magazines make money, right?"
Riiiiight.
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