Kiefer Sutherland, a.k.a.the hardest working man in showbusiness, gets it. He takes his star power into every network upfront

Random highlights from CTV’s really big shew for advertisers Wednesday night at Toronto’s Sony Centre:

The venue was the same but the cast has changed. Just last year, Phil King was centre stage at the CTV upfront, changing T-shirts between clips. This year Phil got to sit out front; he’s now on the supply side, having joined Sony Television just a few weeks back.

Entertainment president Randy Lennox was an early presenter and steered clear of the aggressively competitive tone often set by Bell execs in the recent past. He invited Russell  Peters on stage and the comedian did some shtick in support of his new CraveTV series Russell Peters is The Indian Detective. A show fronted by Peters has seemed for years to be the logical successor to Corner Gas at CTV.


Adrian Holmes had Sutherland’s attention at the CTV upfront after party

The stage show kicked off with the main lads from Letterkenny–Jared Keeso and Nathan Dales–firing T-shirts at the audience out of a cannon. This was hilarious until Keeso took out a row or two of young ad execs, killing five. Fortunately there are thousands of them.

CTV’s presentation was a bit all over the map, with clips dropping randomly throughout the nearly two hour pitch. There was a brief salute–in absentia–to departing Canada AM personalities Bev Thomson, Marci Ien and Jeff Hutcheson and then, boom, out came the new hosts behind the replacement show, Your Morning: Anne Marie Mediwake, Ben Mulroney and three others. Ad buyers were told to expect a mix of health, fitness, entertainment and music.


“Yes, we will be all over Twitter and Snapchat,” said Mulroney. One of the others introduced herself as “the weather junkie.” It did not seem like you could feel the love from the ad buying crowd. Look for the show to debut later this summer.

Man of Conviction Shawn Ashmore works the red carpet outside the Sony Centre

Bell specialty programming boss Tracey Pearce seemed very comfortable on stage as she pumped up The Comedy Network (“on fire”) and Discovery, which will add the St. John’s-based historical drama Frontier later this year.

Programming exec Mike Cosentino came on next and ran through the nights. Conviction was “very on-brand for us,” he told the ad buyers. Designated Survivor was the show “everybody wanted.” Cos noted 19 1/2 hours of CTV sked was in simulcast–more than any other network and up from last year.

Still, he had to work around the usual headaches from U.S. schedulers. CBS left The Amazing Race off its fall sked, a big winner even on Fridays for CTV.

One of several who’s-more-handsome staring contests which broke out on the red carpet

Designated Survivor star Kiefer Sutherland was heralded as a “Canadian legend” by Cosentino. The legend was in the house, chilling in the green room prior to taking a bow on stage. He told ad buyers he got to page 20 of the script and realized he had to do it, but missed a chance to say “Dammit!” just like Jack Bauer.

Sutherland is currently touring all over the States as a music headliner. I spoke with him briefly and he admitted it had been “hard fitting all this” into his killer performance schedule–especially since he has to report to the set of his new series next month.

These guys Dales and Keeso stopped chirpin’ when I told them Bell wants 18 more episodes of Letterkenny for CraveTV

I also caught up with 19-2 stars Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes after the main show. Holmes has been busy shooting episodes of the TV Land series Impastor and enjoying doing some comedy for a change. He says Season Three of 19-2, set to debut soon on Bravo, is the best yet.

I told Keeso Jay Baruchel singled out Letterkenny as his favourite new comedy when I spoke with him Monday at the Rogers upfront. Keeso had already heard it directly from Baruchel at a chance meeting at the airport. Keeso and Nathan Dales were heading right back up to Sudbury after the upfront to finish the last two weeks of shooting on the smack talk comedy, which has become a sensation on CraveTV. Eighteen new episodes are on order.

That was the good news for New Metric co-president Mark Montefiore. The bad news? His other shot-in-Sudbury comedy–What would Sal Do?–is in limbo now that Super Channel has slipped into creditor protection. What would Sal do? He would take his show to CraveTV, that’s what he would do.

Putting a stack of lemons out front just seems to send the wrong message when you invite people in to see your new crop of TV shows

Ran into the great Brian Williams downstairs in the massive Sony Centre “green room.” He’s a true gentleman and one of the nicest people in or out of television. He mentioned it had been almost exactly 10 years–June 6, 2006–since he was on stage at the Sony Centre being introduced by Ivan Fecan as CTV’s latest sports acquisition. Williams confessed he was all set to retire after a distinguished career at CBC Sports when Fecan lured him to the dark side with the carrot of the Vancouver Olympic Games. Williams has covered an incredible 13 Olympics but won’t be in Rio this summer–CBC has the rights to those games.

Williams grabbed a few minutes with Sutherland, mentioning how he got to know Kiefer’s dad, Donald, during the Vancouver Games. (The elder Sutherland voiced a series of memorable Olympic spots for the network.) “Dad told me all about you,” Kiefer told Williams.

Had a nice catch-up chat with Frontier star Allan Hawco. He and his Take the Shot production partners John Vatcher and Rob and Peter Blackie have so many shows in the pipe they may have to start adding soundstages to their St. John’s studios.

Fans of The Marx Bros. generally consider “Love Happy” to be one of their weaker efforts

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