Sep 22, 2019
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Headline, Industry News

CBC’s new season faces hurdles

By Bill Brioux

Each spring, TV networks on both sides of the border throw giant parties .

It’s mainly an attempt to dazzle the ad community and create buzz for the coming season. While CTV and Global _ both set to launch next week _ take turns airlifting Desperate Housewives, Prison Breakers or whoever else happens to be the flavour of the month up from Los Angeles, the CBC traditionally throws the saddest little party in town.

Two years ago, with ratings and moral in a free fall, a pair of frustrated CBC programming executives were backed against a wall in a small room, trying to put a positive spin on a doomed season. Schedules, written in pencil, were handed out in alleyways. Reporters were offered a swig from a brown bag if they promised not to mention the "R" word (ratings).

That was BLMOTP, or before "Little Mosque On The Prairie." The quirky comedy, about a Muslim clan in a little town called Mercy, was an instant hit, drawing an astonishing 2.1 million viewers for its premiere last January. This past Tuesday in Toronto, the entire "Little Mosque" cast were front and centre at the most upbeat CBC launch in years. An audience that could use a little cheering up _ CBC staffers _ were marched into the biggest sound stage, crammed into the bleachers, handed boxed lunches and treated to an actual, rehearsed show filled with talent and promise.

Mind you, the talent on hand was more George Stroumboulopoulos then George Clooney. Still, the troops took their cue from programming executive director Kirstine Layfield, whip thin and elegant in head-to-toe black. Tuesday was all about putting your best foot forward and making a positive impression.

Reading off four giant TelePrompTers, executive vice-president Richard Stursberg boasted that the CBC was coming off its best ratings in five years. This sounded a little like the Leafs boasting about almost making the playoffs, but at least no one in the room laughed out loud. Layfield spoke about passengers on the local commuter transit system being her most reliable focus group. Connecting with actual viewers seems like a step in the right direction, although a glance at the CBC’s proposed fall schedule would suggest that Layfield and company might want to sit next to commuters with a better grasp of audience flow.

Fridays, old reliable "Royal Canadian Air Farce" is sandwiched between "Canadian Antiques Roadshow" and "encores" (a.k.a. reruns) of the "Mercer Report." This is known in the business as "killing a show."

A second season of the gritty B.C. crime drama "Intelligence" is back Mondays nights at 9, although no one seems to know exactly why or how since the show bombed last season. The odd solution seems to be to schedule it behind "Dragons’ Den," the semi-hit reality show that will be back in October to find the next great entrepreneur.

A new reality show, "No Opportunity Wasted," will be hosted by "The Amazing Race’s" Phil Keoghan. Slotted behind "Little Mosque" on Wednesdays, it offers ordinary people a chance to finally go after their dreams. If this works or even if it doesn’t, look for "George Stroumboulopoulos Wasted" by next spring.

Stroumboulopoulos was enough of a good sport to joke about "The One," the disastrous reality show that laid such a big egg on ABC last July. The planned Canadian edition of the talent search series was never made, but CBC is stocking up on several other reality wares, including "Triple Sensation." Yet another star search series, it is proof nobody at CBC learned anything from "The One" or are even aware of the latest reality bomb, "On The Lot." CBC waved other bright shiny things in front of critics and guests. "The Tudors," a U.S. cable miniseries starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Czerny, was heralded as if it was homegrown (CBC co-produced).

CBC Sports was back from the dead, with a fat new "Hockey Night in Canada" contract plus FIFA soccer in the works. Still, CBC faces several pressing challenges next season, including how to turn around a show like "Air Farce" without the safety net of an on-site design department.

In a cost-cutting move, the CBC recently shut down its design unit, a veteran team of in-house set builders and painters, sign and model makers and prop and costume magicians, some of whom could remember painting Mr. Dressup’s "Tickle Trunk" or The Friendly Giant’s castle walls. A stroll through the CBC’s cavernous 10th floor facility was a trip back in time to a real TV factory where men and women worked together to put on a show. It was an atmosphere that was embraced when the CBC finally consolidated an operation spread among 30-odd broken down buildings scattered across Toronto in the late ’80s. Finally everything would happen under one roof.

Today the design unit has been deemed a luxury that is no longer practical or affordable, although how outsourcing props and costumes and carpentry is supposed to be cheaper has yet to be fully explained.

Asked Tuesday how he expects to cope _ especially since there are plans for "Air Farce" to go live each week next season _ longtime Farcer Roger Abbott just shrugged and suggested an extra day a week might help. So will keeping the often used doughnut shop set on site; Abbott pointed to it just around a corner.

Still, doughnuts get stale.

By week five, if an entire episode of "Air Farce" is set at the doughnut shop, put on an extra pot of coffee on. It could be a long season.

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Headline, Industry News

CBC’s new season faces hurdles

By Bill Brioux

Each spring, TV networks on both sides of the border throw giant parties .

It’s mainly an attempt to dazzle the ad community and create buzz for the coming season. While CTV and Global _ both set to launch next week _ take turns airlifting Desperate Housewives, Prison Breakers or whoever else happens to be the flavour of the month up from Los Angeles, the CBC traditionally throws the saddest little party in town.

Two years ago, with ratings and moral in a free fall, a pair of frustrated CBC programming executives were backed against a wall in a small room, trying to put a positive spin on a doomed season. Schedules, written in pencil, were handed out in alleyways. Reporters were offered a swig from a brown bag if they promised not to mention the "R" word (ratings).

That was BLMOTP, or before "Little Mosque On The Prairie." The quirky comedy, about a Muslim clan in a little town called Mercy, was an instant hit, drawing an astonishing 2.1 million viewers for its premiere last January. This past Tuesday in Toronto, the entire "Little Mosque" cast were front and centre at the most upbeat CBC launch in years. An audience that could use a little cheering up _ CBC staffers _ were marched into the biggest sound stage, crammed into the bleachers, handed boxed lunches and treated to an actual, rehearsed show filled with talent and promise.

Mind you, the talent on hand was more George Stroumboulopoulos then George Clooney. Still, the troops took their cue from programming executive director Kirstine Layfield, whip thin and elegant in head-to-toe black. Tuesday was all about putting your best foot forward and making a positive impression.

Reading off four giant TelePrompTers, executive vice-president Richard Stursberg boasted that the CBC was coming off its best ratings in five years. This sounded a little like the Leafs boasting about almost making the playoffs, but at least no one in the room laughed out loud. Layfield spoke about passengers on the local commuter transit system being her most reliable focus group. Connecting with actual viewers seems like a step in the right direction, although a glance at the CBC’s proposed fall schedule would suggest that Layfield and company might want to sit next to commuters with a better grasp of audience flow.

Fridays, old reliable "Royal Canadian Air Farce" is sandwiched between "Canadian Antiques Roadshow" and "encores" (a.k.a. reruns) of the "Mercer Report." This is known in the business as "killing a show."

A second season of the gritty B.C. crime drama "Intelligence" is back Mondays nights at 9, although no one seems to know exactly why or how since the show bombed last season. The odd solution seems to be to schedule it behind "Dragons’ Den," the semi-hit reality show that will be back in October to find the next great entrepreneur.

A new reality show, "No Opportunity Wasted," will be hosted by "The Amazing Race’s" Phil Keoghan. Slotted behind "Little Mosque" on Wednesdays, it offers ordinary people a chance to finally go after their dreams. If this works or even if it doesn’t, look for "George Stroumboulopoulos Wasted" by next spring.

Stroumboulopoulos was enough of a good sport to joke about "The One," the disastrous reality show that laid such a big egg on ABC last July. The planned Canadian edition of the talent search series was never made, but CBC is stocking up on several other reality wares, including "Triple Sensation." Yet another star search series, it is proof nobody at CBC learned anything from "The One" or are even aware of the latest reality bomb, "On The Lot." CBC waved other bright shiny things in front of critics and guests. "The Tudors," a U.S. cable miniseries starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Czerny, was heralded as if it was homegrown (CBC co-produced).

CBC Sports was back from the dead, with a fat new "Hockey Night in Canada" contract plus FIFA soccer in the works. Still, CBC faces several pressing challenges next season, including how to turn around a show like "Air Farce" without the safety net of an on-site design department.

In a cost-cutting move, the CBC recently shut down its design unit, a veteran team of in-house set builders and painters, sign and model makers and prop and costume magicians, some of whom could remember painting Mr. Dressup’s "Tickle Trunk" or The Friendly Giant’s castle walls. A stroll through the CBC’s cavernous 10th floor facility was a trip back in time to a real TV factory where men and women worked together to put on a show. It was an atmosphere that was embraced when the CBC finally consolidated an operation spread among 30-odd broken down buildings scattered across Toronto in the late ’80s. Finally everything would happen under one roof.

Today the design unit has been deemed a luxury that is no longer practical or affordable, although how outsourcing props and costumes and carpentry is supposed to be cheaper has yet to be fully explained.

Asked Tuesday how he expects to cope _ especially since there are plans for "Air Farce" to go live each week next season _ longtime Farcer Roger Abbott just shrugged and suggested an extra day a week might help. So will keeping the often used doughnut shop set on site; Abbott pointed to it just around a corner.

Still, doughnuts get stale.

By week five, if an entire episode of "Air Farce" is set at the doughnut shop, put on an extra pot of coffee on. It could be a long season.

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You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Headline, Industry News

CBC’s new season faces hurdles

By Bill Brioux

Each spring, TV networks on both sides of the border throw giant parties .

It’s mainly an attempt to dazzle the ad community and create buzz for the coming season. While CTV and Global _ both set to launch next week _ take turns airlifting Desperate Housewives, Prison Breakers or whoever else happens to be the flavour of the month up from Los Angeles, the CBC traditionally throws the saddest little party in town.

Two years ago, with ratings and moral in a free fall, a pair of frustrated CBC programming executives were backed against a wall in a small room, trying to put a positive spin on a doomed season. Schedules, written in pencil, were handed out in alleyways. Reporters were offered a swig from a brown bag if they promised not to mention the "R" word (ratings).

That was BLMOTP, or before "Little Mosque On The Prairie." The quirky comedy, about a Muslim clan in a little town called Mercy, was an instant hit, drawing an astonishing 2.1 million viewers for its premiere last January. This past Tuesday in Toronto, the entire "Little Mosque" cast were front and centre at the most upbeat CBC launch in years. An audience that could use a little cheering up _ CBC staffers _ were marched into the biggest sound stage, crammed into the bleachers, handed boxed lunches and treated to an actual, rehearsed show filled with talent and promise.

Mind you, the talent on hand was more George Stroumboulopoulos then George Clooney. Still, the troops took their cue from programming executive director Kirstine Layfield, whip thin and elegant in head-to-toe black. Tuesday was all about putting your best foot forward and making a positive impression.

Reading off four giant TelePrompTers, executive vice-president Richard Stursberg boasted that the CBC was coming off its best ratings in five years. This sounded a little like the Leafs boasting about almost making the playoffs, but at least no one in the room laughed out loud. Layfield spoke about passengers on the local commuter transit system being her most reliable focus group. Connecting with actual viewers seems like a step in the right direction, although a glance at the CBC’s proposed fall schedule would suggest that Layfield and company might want to sit next to commuters with a better grasp of audience flow.

Fridays, old reliable "Royal Canadian Air Farce" is sandwiched between "Canadian Antiques Roadshow" and "encores" (a.k.a. reruns) of the "Mercer Report." This is known in the business as "killing a show."

A second season of the gritty B.C. crime drama "Intelligence" is back Mondays nights at 9, although no one seems to know exactly why or how since the show bombed last season. The odd solution seems to be to schedule it behind "Dragons’ Den," the semi-hit reality show that will be back in October to find the next great entrepreneur.

A new reality show, "No Opportunity Wasted," will be hosted by "The Amazing Race’s" Phil Keoghan. Slotted behind "Little Mosque" on Wednesdays, it offers ordinary people a chance to finally go after their dreams. If this works or even if it doesn’t, look for "George Stroumboulopoulos Wasted" by next spring.

Stroumboulopoulos was enough of a good sport to joke about "The One," the disastrous reality show that laid such a big egg on ABC last July. The planned Canadian edition of the talent search series was never made, but CBC is stocking up on several other reality wares, including "Triple Sensation." Yet another star search series, it is proof nobody at CBC learned anything from "The One" or are even aware of the latest reality bomb, "On The Lot." CBC waved other bright shiny things in front of critics and guests. "The Tudors," a U.S. cable miniseries starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Czerny, was heralded as if it was homegrown (CBC co-produced).

CBC Sports was back from the dead, with a fat new "Hockey Night in Canada" contract plus FIFA soccer in the works. Still, CBC faces several pressing challenges next season, including how to turn around a show like "Air Farce" without the safety net of an on-site design department.

In a cost-cutting move, the CBC recently shut down its design unit, a veteran team of in-house set builders and painters, sign and model makers and prop and costume magicians, some of whom could remember painting Mr. Dressup’s "Tickle Trunk" or The Friendly Giant’s castle walls. A stroll through the CBC’s cavernous 10th floor facility was a trip back in time to a real TV factory where men and women worked together to put on a show. It was an atmosphere that was embraced when the CBC finally consolidated an operation spread among 30-odd broken down buildings scattered across Toronto in the late ’80s. Finally everything would happen under one roof.

Today the design unit has been deemed a luxury that is no longer practical or affordable, although how outsourcing props and costumes and carpentry is supposed to be cheaper has yet to be fully explained.

Asked Tuesday how he expects to cope _ especially since there are plans for "Air Farce" to go live each week next season _ longtime Farcer Roger Abbott just shrugged and suggested an extra day a week might help. So will keeping the often used doughnut shop set on site; Abbott pointed to it just around a corner.

Still, doughnuts get stale.

By week five, if an entire episode of "Air Farce" is set at the doughnut shop, put on an extra pot of coffee on. It could be a long season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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