Rogers Celebrates an American City

The KGB was out in force at the Rogers/City-TV launch Tuesday in Toronto. As in “Keeps Getting Better.”
The corny slogan was repeated ad (and I do mean ad) nauseum at the industry event, held at the Canon Theatre on Yonge Street. Rejected was this slogan: “Keeps Getting Bigger” (your Rogers bill).
Even Regis got into the act, shouting “Keeps Getting Better!” in a clip reel that also featured shout outs from Jay Leno (seen weeknights at 10 next fall on City-TV) and others. City will air Reege’s revived Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in August.
The corporate elite at Rogers did have plenty to boast about. Ratings for Breakfast Television, always strong in Toronto, were up 25% last year. The local news numbers were also up. Prime time numbers were up. The team is set it move into its shiny new broadcast digs at Yonge and Dundas.
Plus the big boys, CTV and Global, aren’t so big anymore. Rogers was able to go down to the LA screenings and scoop up all the shows that will quickly get canceled that CTV and Global used to buy and then never show.
Rogers also stole a few established shows away from the other guys, including How I Met Your Mother and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Most of the steals were from Canwest’s E!, which is E for empty next fall.
The speeches from the stage at the Canon emphasized that Rogers was the positive place to put your money next year. That they had the “good news fall launch” and were way separate from the “doom and gloom” message blaring out of the other joints. Then they rolled out two guys dressed as hobos with signs marked “CTV” and “Global” and the Rogers execs all took turns kicking them in the nuts (actually they didn’t do that but it would have been funny).
City is inching back into the prime time ratings race. Big gains were made last year, especially in women 18-49. Slides were shown with City topping Global for second place in the W demo (although the fine print and asterisk narrowed the sample down to four days in January or something like that).

The Rogers pep rally included the screening of an entire episode of one of the more promising new shows for fall: Modern Family. (This was done at ABC’s upfront last month in New York, too.) That one camera comedy stars Ed O’Neill (Married…with Children) as an older guy married to a young, Latino spitfire. There’s also a gay couple with an adopted baby from Vietnam and a sort of normal couple with a horny teenage daughter. Put them all together and hilarity ensues, or at least a few good laughs in the well written, well cast pilot. The series has a Best In Show meets Arrested Development quality about it, which is always good.
Rogers also has the new Courteney Cox vehicle Cougar Town, exactly the kind of show CTV or Global would have snapped up in years past. The network also bought the new Chevy Chase comedy Community to go with their airings of 30 Rock. They also have a bunch of stuff that runs all together, shows about nurses and trauma centres that looked like dozens of other failed pilots from the past dozen years.

Rogers big money makers, however, are those 6-8 shows, stripped reruns of Family Guy, Two and a Half Men and The Simpsons. City and OMNI kick ass in the supper hour, in the Toronto demos at least, and will again next season.
Dropped from the City lineup is Jimmy Kimmel Live. That’s headed to Sun TV, the little station that also got to pick from more than just table scraps for the first time ever. Rogers has Leno and no longer needs Jimmy. One of the Rogers program execs said later they did better with some MTV fare after Kimmel that they’re going to just slide it down an hour, thank you.
The stage presentation also included an opening reel showing various members of the City-TV/OMNI family stumbling around the Yonge/Dundas site in hard hats. Boy was it lame. A painful gag featuring Mark Daly (whose voice remains a strong City signature) was repeated to death. I guess it seemed funny in the boardroom.
Canadian-born Bachelorette Jillian Harris was brought on stage and seemed pretty excited to be there. Later everybody was herded next door to the Hard Rock Cafe, where the heavy h’ordeurvres eventually made their way upstairs.
Missing from the Rogers deal? Well, uh, Canadian shows. You know, the scripted kind. There was barely any mention of Less Than Kind, and beyond the local news presence, very little flag waving of any kind. They did unveil the new reality show Ford Models Supermodels of the World Canada, which will be a lot of words to cram up on the Rogers Centre JumboTron this season.
Rogers wants to bump into the big boys broadcast club and Lord knows buying a ton of American fare is the only example that’s been set so far. But platforming a shiny new Canuck drama or comedy would have gone a long way toward making a serious statement yesterday. It didn’t happen.

City-TV’s fall schedule (new shows in bold):

SUNDAY
7 NFL overruns
7:30 Two and a Half Men
8 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9 Rona Home
10 Conviction Kitchen

MONDAY
7 L&O: SVU
8 How I Mwet Your Mother
8:30 Accidentally On Purpose
9 Trauma
10 Jay Leno Show

TUESDAY
7 L&O: SVU
8 The Biggest Loser
10 Jay Leno Show

WEDNESDAY
7 L&O: SVU
8 Parenthood
9 Modern Family
9:30 Cougar Town
10 Jay Leno Show

THURSDAY
7 L&O:SVU
8 Community
8:30 Parks & Recreation
9 30 Rock
9:30 30 Rock
10 Jay Leno Show

FRIDAY
7 L&O:SVU
8 Super Nanny
9 Ugly Betty
10 Jay Leno Show

SATURDAY
7 Murdoch Mysteries
8. Glenn Martin
8:30 Out There with Melissa DeMarco
9 Movie Night

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