Psst–Global’s Got 90210 for 2008-09

Shhhh…don’t let this get out, but Global just announced all their fall 2008 acquisitions. They’ve snagged some buzz shows, too, like the CW’s 90210 remake (OMFG!), the new Joss Whedon/Eliza Dushku series Dollhouse and the Brit hit makeover Life on Mars.
You’d think they’d be excited about beating CTV to these hotties but its hard to tell by today’s press release, slid under reporters doors after 5 p.m. ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE A LONG WEEKEND. This should ensure lots of play, maybe wedged between Family Circus and Zits on The Star’s Saturday funny pages.
CanWest has picked up seven new dramas and four new comedies. Jennie Garth (above) is back as a recurring character on 90210, and Canadian Shenae Grimes (Degrassi: The Next Generation) is also on the CW series. Back in the days when Global was dominant (boasting hits like Seinfeld, Friends and Frasier), Beverly Hills, 90210 was one of their imported money magnets.
In past years, Global and CTV executives have thrown money around like drunken sailors, loading up on as many as 20 shows each in a crazy game of keep-a-way. This year, what with the cutbacks in pilots and readiness south of the border due to the writers strike, there were fewer shows to choose from. Which is good, because, in the last year or so, Global and CTV have spent billions acquiring specialty networks and other broadcasters like CHUM and, well, their money is kinda tied up.
Global has set some kind of speed record getting their 2008-09 announcement out there, just one day after the last U.S. network’s upfront in New York. Traditionally, Canadian network buyers spend the next week screening and buying. This year, Global cut deals in advance, getting a jump on the NBC content when that network spilled the beans early. They’ve gone down to LA anyway. Some habits are hard to kick.
Global also had to be aggressive. That writers’ strike killed them in December-through-March, and still hurts with shows like 24 and Heroes sidelined until September or January. Global’s big dependence on scripted fare–combined with CTV’s rights to reality hits like Dancing With The Stars and American Idol–have kept Global well back in the weekly Canadian Top-30.
Will these new shows help turn them around? Expectations are low so far but you never know in television.
Besides the above-mentioned shows, Global has picked up the mid-season series Harper’s Island, a murder mystery starring Bill Pullman, and the comedy Kath and Kim, an Aussie makeover starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair as a dysfunctional mother/daughter duo living in suburbia. They also have their previously announced NBC acquisitions Knight Rider, My Own Worst Enemy (starring Christian Slater as a split personality super spy), the Office spinoff and The Philanthropist, an hour drama about a vigilante philanthropist (he kills people with money?). They’ve also snagged the mid-season Fox animated series Sit Down, Shut Up, from Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz and featuring the voices of several Arrested stars, as well as Worst Week, a comedy about a couple on the verge of marriage, with Kurtwood Smith (That ’70s Show) as a cranky dad.
There it is, but, please, don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret. Have a nice long holiday weekend. Global’s official upfront pressapalooza takes place June 4 in Toronto, although, haven’t they just scooped themselves? Maybe–gasp–they’ve saved up a couple of big new Canadian content announcements. Hey, things are a changin’.

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