Business as usual for big spending Canadian nets –
ABC’s Pan Am: cleared for landing at CTV next fall

Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have already spilled some details as to who bought what in the annual Can-Am cash for content exchange. This year, Canadian show buyers from Bell/CTV, Shaw/Global, Rogers/City and others agreed to play nice and actually wait until they screened everything before bidding on any shows. In the past this thing has played out like a bunch of parents fighting over the latest copy of Call of Duty’s Notorious. Either that or prior to even landing in L.A., network execs had sewn up secret nudge wink handshake deals for a season full of goodies from Fox, Disney, Warners or whoever.
Not so much this year. Nothing happened until last Saturday at 10 a.m. Then the bidding wars began.
When the smoke cleared, CTV had cherry picked the few biggies it needed for its still dominant schedule: retro sky drama Pan Am (featuring Christina Ricci, fourth from left above), Darren Star’s G.C.B. (“Good Christian Bitches,” starring Leslie Bibb abd Annie Potts), new NBC comedy Whitney (starring comedienne Whitney Cummings) and close to sure thing The X Factor. Rogers–weeks after crying poor (again) to the CRTC in Ottawa–threw tons of moola at long time Global suppliers Warners and Fox and came away with the greatest number of shows, including ABC’s Revenge, starring Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters). Global, we hear, did not overspend.

CBS’s The Fugitive: did not run

This might not be a bad thing. Every season is a crap shoot and the shows that are supposed to be the next big thing often blow up in a Canadian show buyers face. A remake of The Fugitive? Can’t miss. Aaron Sorkin’s new Studio 60 with Matt Perry? Buy everything Warners has to get it. The Event? Sure to be the next Lost.
Then there are the little sleeper shows that turn out to be monster hits. Only one guy at CTV saw any potential in The Big Bang Theory and he had to talk his higher ups into buying it.
So far it is way too early to tell if 2011-12 will be a bumper year like two years ago, when rookies Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife and NCIS: Los Angeles became instant hits–or last season when Lonestar, Chase, Undercovers, The Whole Truth and Outlaw were all pretty much DOA.
 Here’s all you need to know about last season: Mike & Molly was the No. 1 new comedy and Raising Hope the No. 1 new comedy in the younger demos. The No. 1 new comedy in Canada? S#*! My Dad Says, a show CBS canceled.
So Global show buyers, led by EVP Barb Williams–the most experienced hand heading into this U.S. show market opposite the new suits from Rogers and Bell–may eventually look smart for not overspending. On the other hand, what’s she going to plug into Thursday, Friday and Sunday?
Just one of the questions to be answered next week at the City upfront Monday, Global Tuesday and CTV Thursday, all in Toronto.



    “It seems more and more that Canadian-made programming is a cottage industry, in that it only airs when Canadians are at the cottage. During the regular season, September through May, the shows that Canadian programmers buy in Hollywood get all the best time slots and marketing muscle.”

    Mr. Brioux,

    If only we had in Canada what the U.S. has in their country. People in the news media who write mostly and favourably about their own country’s productions.

    If you had been doing that, as is / was your obligation and duty to Canada as a Canadian, thruout your career at the Toronto Sun, now ended, I wager that American imports would be less than 10 % today, instead of the 99.999 % they are.

    Even when you do write about Canadian productions, which is a very rare occasion, you portray the very worst picture of it possible, cleverly disguised so that you cannot be proven to do so, leading me to conclude that you write all that you do to deliberately help destroy the Canadian Identity, and Canada.

    In my humble Canadian opinion, you are an American wannabe, or an American spy, or, at the very worst, a traitor to your country, Canada.

    I cannot even rejoice at your being fired from the Toronto Sun.

    I expect your replacement will be even worse than you have been for Canada.

  2. Mr. Testing: to follow your logic, I guess Canadian viewers are all American wanabees, too. I’m pretty sure Anerican Idol and House and The Big Bang Theory and all the other most-watched TV shows in Canada did not get that way because of a few stories I wrote at The Sun.
    This is a knock often aimed at Canadian TV critics in Canada–that we only cover American shows and we therefore sway readers to only watch American. The argument is all cart before the horse. We can only cover what the Canadian networks are offering and Canadians are watching. Not writing about American Idol or Big Bang would be like covering the Stanley Cup playoffs and not writing about the American teams.
    As for covering Canadian, most of us are only too eager to do that first. I’ve been on the set of Canadian shows from Etobicoke to Vancouver to Halifax to Yellowknife just in the past six months. I’ve been writing Canadian TV stories since filing profiles on third, fourth and fifth leads on Night Heat for TV Guide back in the ’80s.
    Canadian TV critics and columnists like Tony Atherton, Jim Bawden, Rob Salem, Eric Kohanick, Andy Ryan, Claire Bickley, Brad Oswald, Alex Strachan, Amber Dowling and others worked this beat like crazy to bring readers closer to Canadian TV shows and personalities. Without Bawden as its champion, for example, Degrassi would be remembered, if at all, as a one season wonder.
    Having said that, it is not my duty or obligation to wave the flag and just promote made in Canada. If I think Canadian networks aren’t doing enough to produce and schedule Canadian fare–which was actually the point of the piece you are commenting on–I’m free to write that, just as you are free to interpret it. And if more Canadians are interested in when Mad Men is coming back than in when Being Erica is coming back, I’m free to write about that, too.
    What ever I write, it won’t make or break the Canadian TV industry. If all I did was cheerlead, it would come off, at best, as “eat your vegetables.” Critics begged and pleaded with readers to watch Arrested Development and it didn’t save that show. I wish I could spike viewership for Endgame but after writing about it like crazy when it launched, at that point, it is up to the show, the scheduler, the network’s marketing people–and the gods.

  3. Raising Hope – the retread of all heartland America sitcoms. Yeah I’m a fan. I’d like to find out one day though if the lead actor’s brown bowl wig is the very same one used for Eric Foreman on That 70s Show and Wojo from Barney Miller.

  4. Testing: I think you’re mistaking the job of a critic for that of a publicist. There is a difference you know.

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