The Canadian Film Centre held its 25th annual gala and auction at the Art Deco Carlu theatre in Toronto Wednesday night. As I tweeted from the event, there was more money in the room than at a Markham Super Bowl bust.
My old pal Slawko Klymkiw CFC’s CEO, worked that room like Sinatra at the Sands. Klymkiw is one of the good guys and carries his enthusiasm and commitment toward developing the next generation of Canadian TV and film makers with humility and panache.

Where’s that spell check for table signs ap?

Thanks to another good guy, Orest Olijnyk at Disney Canada, I was able to enjoy the event from a table instead of from the parking lot. Colm Feore was the perfect emcee–off in three minutes–and one-percenters such as Hilary Weston (who co-chaired the event) and convicted TV host Conrad Black walked among us.
I sat with folks from Fox Incendo and learned plenty from their director of contracts and rights management, Richard Carpenter and colleague Melanie Hepburn. I already knew one of the hold ups from seeing episodes of the classic late-’70s, early-’80s sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati was the expensive music clearances, which were never negotiated for things like DVDs or nostalgia channels. Music from the Stones, the Who and other top bands blared from the soundtrack when the radio station sitcom originally aired. When clearing those songs later became a multi-million-dollar headache, generic muzak had to be substituted in order for the show to be re-released. It is why you can still only buy Season One of the series on DVD.

Johnny Fever: hearing double

What I didn’t know was that the music was never recorded on a separate track, forcing engineers to digitally pluck out notes from between the actor’s dialogue. Thanks goodness they didn’t lose the line, “As God is my witness, I thought turkey’s could fly.”
Many TV industry movers and shakers were at the gala, including Christina Jennings, a CFC grad riding record high ratings for her CBC series, Murdoch Mysteries.
I also spoke with a couple of top Canadian network programming executives. Here’s what I learned.
Remember that 35-minute blackout delay during the Super Bowl? CTV programmers were sweating bullets as the minutes ticked away, pushing the premiere of their new Canadian drama, Motive, further into the night.
Not knowing how long the power out would last, plans were put into motion to cut to another show. CTV’s back up plan had the delay gone an hour or so? Fill time with their clean up hitter, The Big Bang Theory.
Another broadcast executive read with interest a report that CBS crammed so many network promotional spots in their coverage of the Super Bowl they in effect gave away $140 million in ad revenue. The flip side, of course, is they played their promo spots to 108 million-plus viewers.
I saw those spots last Sunday while watching the Toledo, Ohio-feed off my buddy Jim’s grey dish and I have to say I was impressed by the lavishly-produced CBS promos. Specially made ads featuring the cast of Big Bang in football uniforms and the 2 Broke Girls doing a sexy half time show were dazzling and clearly only ever intended to run once. Even David Letterman got in a little face time, throwing a football around with a future Hall of Famer–as well as Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck.  (U.S. readers can watch it here). Cute, but not the wow for Dave’s spot with Oprah and Leno CBS’s last Bowl go round.

CBS’s flashy 2 Broke Girls Bowl spot was directed by David LaChapelle

The Canadian network programming executive noted, however, that Monday reports showed CBS got little or no bump from the spots. (CBS says they got lifts Monday on The Talk as well as How I Met Your Mother.) The Canadian exec’s take: why spend and give up millions promoting shows that are already big established hits?
The topic of City’s Seed launch was broached, and why some viewers appeared to miss Monday’s launch.
One rival exec wondered how many CBS affiliate viewers simply stuck with Rules of Engagement after How I Met Your Mother at 8 p.m. instead of switching over to City’s Seed feed. The answer in Toronto: CBS Buffalo affiliate WIVB drew 51,000 in the overnights with Rules, while City’s Toronto Seed take was 106,000. Add that up across the country and it chips away at the Seed score, although those are viewers who could possibly be wooed in coming weeks.
The changing, and ever so competitive TV landscape was also raised, specifically how the playing field has widened out.
“Know what show was among the 10 most-watched series in Toronto last season?”, one exec asked. The Walking Dead. There’s no Canadian carrier, no simulcast and it’s only available on AMC, yet it is punched into many Torontonians PVRs. (And that’s a lot of PVRs. Penetration in Canada is now at 40%.)

They’re baaak: Zombies give commuters the finger at Union Station

T.O.’s Dead crush was acknowledged Wednesday when zombies appeared at Toronto’s Union Station, lunging as commuters who probably thought they were looking for change. A massive countdown board was erected to remind people when the show was returning.
The answer is this Sunday, Feb. 10 at 9 p.m., where it will square off opposite The Grammy Awards. If you live in th Republic of Doyle, you may just want to drown your sorrows at the Duke till this all blows over.

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