“Screw Wheel and Jeopardy–we’ve got the Cup!”

Hey–good news! CBC apparently found millions of dollars!
That was the impression at Thursday’s “Dancing Past the Budget Cuts with the Stars” 2012-13 Launchapalooza at the public network’s downtown Toronto broadcast centre.
The extravagant happening began around noon in a cavernous 10th floor sound stage. That’s one big advantage CBC has over those other guys–it has its own built in theme park space, right in the building. And with no actual shows in production, those big rooms are always available.
UPDATE: For a video peek inside the launch, go here.
Some critics at the event (okay, me and Bawden and Salem) could recall huddling with Slawko Klymkiw in a boiler room or an elevator one year while the list of new shows was read off the back of an envelope. There was no huddling in the dark this year, Sonny Jim. CBC wanted to send a message that, despite the grim headlines and forecasts, they were open for business as usual.
That’s probably a smart strategy to take with the ad kids, but you had to ask how many, say, TV shows could have been made with the money lavished on Thursday’s big event. You probably could have ordered three or four Michaels or three dozen Debaters, or sent another executive or two to Banff.

CBC’s Over the Rainbow will put Toto in the spotlight

By the time I snuck in, the show was already reaching Fox launch proportions. I missed the news that Daryn Jones has been plucked from MTV Live to host Over the Rainbow, a new Sunday night reality showcase about the search for an actress to play the main character in a Mirvish stage production of The Wizard of Oz. Maybe a house descended from the ceiling and landed on Rex Murphy at that point, but, as I said, I wasn’t there to see it or tweet it.
Besides Dorothy, the play needs a Toto and so the reality show will also feature a search for a new dog. I think CBC’s already found it!
I also missed the part where CBC announced reruns of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and The Lang & O’Leary Exchange would fill that void left by the departure of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! No longer will, “What is the worst trade in history, Alex?” be the answer to, “Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Stanfield to Boston for Martin, Norris and Marotte.”

Daryn Jones: you talkin’ to me?

To be fair, CBC really had no choice on this one, and the cost of keeping all those viewers over 60 was probably no longer worth it anyway. Plus, in this digital age of PVR’s and PPMs, will anyone really linger past Final Jeopardy for the Over the Rainbow results show Mondays at 8? The Big Bang Theory at 7:30 ain’t gonna make that happen.
Bottom line, CBC will take a huge numbers hit from 6:30 to 7:30 next September. Look for prime time to roll back to 8 p.m. in all future ratings releases.
In one bright spot, CBC will toss reliable pick up Murdoch Mysteries straight onto its Monday at 9 schedule in September, hard off its fifth and final season summer run on City. That will be a win. Also new to CBC for fall is Titanic: Blood & Steel, an international co-pro about the doomed ocean liner. Hopefully not too many viewers will know how it ends. Not helping is this show’s nickname: Voyage to the Bottom of the Ratings.
CBC plans to double pump Dragon’s Den Wednesdays and Sundays. They’ll do it without Robert Herjavec, who opted out to get back to counting his money and will be replaced by Wealthy Barber author David Chilton. (See Esposito for Martin, above).
The fall schedule could charitably be described as a whole lot of Hail Marys. Whatever, let’s PAR-TAY!
The party was in full swing when I arrived. The place was packed; hundreds of CBC staffers and on-air talent sat on bleachers with a landing strip down the middle. At the far end, Giant screens loomed over a wide stage. At one point, a country band rocked the  house.
The long, narrow landing strip was lit to look like an ice surface, and six armor-plated hockey players dashed along it on roller skates. It was kinda like Rollerball, the earlier Jewison version.

Murdoch duo Helene Joy, Yanmick Bisson

This was all to hype the 60th anniversary of Hockey Night in Canada. The skaters each wore “60” on their backs. There was a clip of NHL president Gary Bettman saying how unprecedented this network arrangement was in all sport. Then one of those guys with the white gloves walked in with the Stanley Cup, or at least the plastic mall version of the Cup they use for kids parties and stuff.
All of this helped distract from the fact that the Cup ratings are down a bunch in round two. Certainly not CBC’s fault–their broadcasts have never been better. It’s just their bad luck that no Canadian teams survive.
P.J. Stock and others at the launch tried the spin that Canada always adopts an American team going forward, but the numbers just do not reflect that this playoff run. Hey, dibs on Phoenix!
Afterwards, press were herded down an elevator to a sixth floor bunker to conduct interviews with CBC talent. Met David Sutcliffe and Stefanie von Pfetten, the stars of the new drama Cracked, set to begin in January. Sadly, the show has nothing to do with that old Mad magazine rip-off I remember from my mis-spent youth. Caught up with St. John’s mayor Allan Hawco, who says Russell Crowe will be on every episode of Republic of Doyle next season. No he doesn’t! Cathy Jones and Mark Critch were in the house and excited about the 20th season of 22 Minutes. Counting CODCO, Jones has been on CBC for 25 consecutive years! Arctic Air‘s Adam Beach promised to send me a photo of the 1982 Camero he just picked up (with the eagle decal on the hood). Mr. D star Gerry Dee kept busting into all my interviews, which only improved things. His comedy returns next January.
In the next few days, CBC execs and talent will be flown to Calgary and Vancouver to do this all over again. Really, no kidding, cross my heart, they’re going to spend, spend, spend to show how they can make do just fine with less. Appropriation? Hell, we have your in-appropriation right here!

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  1. Hey Bill, have you heard anything about episode orders for the returning shows? I’ve been searching around but haven’t heard anything. I’ve been expecting to hear of reduced orders, but can’t find any good info.

  2. Far as I know, Dwayne, everything got the usual full order. CBC execs wisely decided to cut series rather than episodes. There are 13 episodes of Cracked, Arctic Air, Republic of Doyle. Mr. D. The only change was Marketplace boosted to a full season instead of a half. 22 Minutes remains at a full season, as does Mercer and Dragons.

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