April 15, 2014

Upfronts 2014 | Gloryosky’s Guide to the 2014-15 Canadian Television Upfronts

It’s almost Canadian television upfront time again, where major Canadian media conglomerates sell advertisers on the merits of their programming. This article will be updated as dates, venues, and times for the upfronts are finalized.

Bell Media (CTV): Thursday, June 5, 2014
CBC Television (English): date and venue TBA
Channel Zero (CHCH): Thursday, June 12, 2014; venue TBA; early morning
Rogers Media (City): likely Tuesday, June 3, 2014; time and venue TBA
Shaw Media (Global): likely Wednesday, June 4, 2014; time and venue TBA

Unless otherwise noted, all English-language Canadian television upfronts are held in Toronto, Ontario. Upfront events are not public events; they are by invitation only.

Usually, CBC Television is first with its mid-May media day. CBC Television tends to release its fall schedule ahead of time; this year, CBC Television released the fall 2014-15 schedule (and the 2013-14 cancellations – blame CBC’s recent budgetary cutbacks for that one) earlier than usual, so CBC Television lays practically all its cards on the table weeks ahead of its media day. I don’t understand why CBC Television does this, but that’s its usual strategy.

Rogers Media, Shaw Media, and Bell Media focus most on their terrestrial program services. That reads as obvious, but having attended all three upfronts (Rogers Media in 2012 and 2013; Canwest/Shaw Media from 2010-12; Bell Media in 2012 and 2013), City, Global, and CTV are the top priorities. In particular, Rogers Media, Shaw Media, and Bell Media focus on their terrestrial program services’ prime-time schedules. Bell Media sets the majority of its time aside for CTV’s offerings, whereas Rogers Media and Shaw Media spread attention between their terrestrial and specialty offerings.

Bell Media actually tweeted CTV’s upfront date on Monday, April 14, 2014. Unless I’m bad at paying attention to other online marketing efforts, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a major Canadian media company promote an upfront save-the-date on Twitter. It’s a welcome trend; I hope it spreads.

CHCH’s 2014 upfront will feature the Tiny Talent Time revival in some way. That’s not much of a spoiler, as both the date and Tiny Talent Time‘s involvement were confirmed to me by CHCH marketing manager Rhonda Messieh on March 12, 2014. The Tiny Talent Time revival was announced during CHCH’s 2013 upfront, so the TTT revival has been a while in coming.

Corus Entertainment, Stornoway Communications, ZoomerMedia and Blue Ant Media do not participate in the annual upfront season, as far as I know.


November 13, 2013

News: November 13, 2013 Canadian Television Press Release Potrzebie


News: November 12, 2013 Canadian Television Press Release Potrzebie

I used to link to press releases on Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook.  As an experiment – and since my attempts at non-Twitter-based social media come up croppers – URBMN will publish roundups of Canadian television press releases.  People like it when you regularly update a site.


November 8, 2013

News: Canadian International Television Festival announces inaugural schedule

Barring any last-minute changes, I plan to attend the inaugural Canadian International Television Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The festival runs from November 15-17, 2013; the public portion of the festival runs from November 16-17, 2013.

Upcoming Canadian television shows to be showcased at the inaugural CITF include:

  • 19-2 (November 16; 10:00 AM-1:00 PM).  This is part of a larger panel covering The Amazing Race Canada and Degrassi.
  • Bitten (November 16; 10:00-11:00 PM)
  • Sensitive Skin (November 16; 4:00-5:00 PM)
  • Spun Out (November 16; 8:00-9:00 PM)

The Royal Canadian Air Farce will celebrate its fortieth anniversary on November 16, from 2:00-3:00 PM.  Other events include binge viewing of Sherlock‘s (November 16; 10:00 AM-3:00 PM) and Orphan Black‘s (November 16; 6:00 PM-11:00 PM) first seasons, a bravoFACT short film showcase (November 16; 4:00-5:00 PM), a Bill Brioux discussion on NBC’s fall 1966 preview reel (November 17, 1:00-2:00 PM), and an advance screening/Q&A session based around Murdoch Mysteries (November 17, 4:00-6:00 PM).  The festival closes with the Canadian debut of Sky Arts’ 2012 four-part limited series, A Young Doctor’s Notebook (November 17, 7:00-9:00 PM).

Tickets for the festival are free.  There is a $1.00 surcharge per ticket, for advance online orders.  The Canadian International Television Festival revealed its finalized lineup on November 7, 2013.

I recently wrote an article for TV, Eh? about the Canadian International Television Festival.  To be fair, I wrote the article before plans were finalized for the CITF.  Now that the CITF has a definite form, I’m glad to see the festival on track for next week.

While I can’t claim that the CITF’s overall promotion is ideal, with the majority of the news announced after October 29, 2013, it is a free festival promoting Canadian programming.  If the CITF creates positive word-of-mouth for the programs it promotes, then it does its job.

CITF’s website is at citf13.tv.


August 29, 2011

Nostalgia (Not Really) | URBMN ‘Celebrates’ 75 Years of CBC!, Part One

Over at Google+, I’ve given CBC-related items some attention.  CBC has a (quite boring) 75th anniversary site.  The problem with official CBC functions like this is the sanitized history – here’s Mr. Dressup, here’s Wojeck, hello Peter Gzowski, and so on.

I hope to counteract this state of boredom.  Through the magic of flash video sites and recorded media, CBC’s true history is revealed.  It’s a history full of failed shows, forgotten culture, ignored culture (CBC has a lot of the third option), and great shows CBC did nothing with.  It’s the history CBC would rather people forget.  CBC wants people to forget.

Here are the first thirteen entries in my ongoing effort to provide a better overview of CBC’s 75th anniversary than an episode of Hangin’ In followed by an episode of The Beachcombers.  Newer Google+ compilations will be posted on URBMN every so often.  Check the URBMN Google+ page daily for new entries, as URBMN ‘Celebrates’ 75 Years of CBC!

By the way, I am not paid to endorse the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation like this.  If I was, I’d mention something about Jian Ghomeshi, then take note of a “hilarious” Ha!ifax Comedy Festival compilation.  HFC has a Gemini nomination for Best Comedy Series or Program this year, don’t you know?  It won’t win over Living in Your Car or Call Me Fitz, but I’m sure the nomination doesn’t have anything to do with CBC wresting the Gemini telecast from Shaw Media’s clammy hands.  I’m not cynical.

August 30, 2011: CBC Late Night opening
August 29, 2011: 1978 CBC promos
August 28, 2011: The CFL on CBC, 1977
August 27, 2011: 1979 CBC promos
August 26, 2011: Flappers
August 25, 2011: What It’s Like Being Alone
August 24, 2011: 1987 CBC promos
August 23, 2011: The Odyssey
August 22, 2011: Town Beat!
August 21, 2011: Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie
August 20, 2011: The S and M Comic Book
August 19, 2011: The Tea Party on Friday Night! with Ralph Benmergui
August 18, 2011: Double Up


August 24, 2010

News: CBC passes on Fancy; Fancy pilot to air March 2011

According to Jayme Pfahl of Vancouver production company Gang of 2, CBC Television has passed on Fancy as a possible series.  Pfahl gives a March 2011 prospective airdate for the pilot itself.  The exact airdate is subject to change by CBC.

Fancy is about children’s show host Maureen Fancy (Kate Hewlett.)  Fancy is cheery on-set, and miserable away from the camera.  Playback and Hollywood Reporter scribe Etan Vlessing also mentions Patrick McKenna and Jana Peck as part of the cast.

Pfahl co-founded Gang of 2 with Angus Fraser.  Pfahl and Fraser recently produced The Cult, a pilot which aired on CBC earlier in 2010.

While Fancy‘s premise isn’t original, I think the idea could sustain a series.  CBC Television has shied away from dark comedies as of late, given CBC’s shift to lighter dramas and reality shows.

100 Things Every Man Should Know and Floorwalker are still in development with CBC.  A third CBC/Gang of 2 project, After, is no longer being developed.

I’d like to see at least one Gang of 2 product get past CBC Television’s pilot stage.  I’m not one to complain about CBC’s existence, but why does CBC keep rejecting shows I might be interested in?  There’s something scary about HBO Canada, APTN and Showcase being the vanguards of edgier comedy in this country.


July 28, 2010

News: Three Mike MacDonald CBC/Showtime comedy specials on DVD October 5, 2010

Mike MacDonald: A Comic Stripped will be released by VSC on October 5, 2010.  The single-disc compendium of his CBC/Showtime specials will MSRP for $19.98 CDN.  The listed running time is 130 minutes.

Mike MacDonald: A Comic Stripped covers MacDonald’s three CBC/Showtime standup comedy specials, On Target, My House! My Rules!, and Happy As I Can Be.  Extras include a commentary track and Mike MacDonald performing air guitar.

Mike MacDonald is the star of the 1989-91 CBC series Mosquito Lake, though he can hardly be blamed for that show being an epic comedy abortion.  More importantly, he’s the voice of Rip Friend in the Teletoon/Fox Kids cartoon Ripping Friends (2001-02.)

MacDonald is one of Canada’s great standup comics, and it’s too bad he hasn’t become bigger than he is.  How CBC goes from Mike MacDonald and The Kids in the Hall to Ron James and The Ron James Show, I’ll never know.  At least one of Mike MacDonald’s old films is out on DVD, even if it is Loose Screws.

Here’s Mike MacDonald from the 1987 Just For Laughs Festival.  You may remember 1987 as the year Eddie Windsor spent a few minutes desperately trying to wring laughs from a dog and a hoop.

Ten years later, Eddie Windsor was featured on The Worst of Just For Laughs.  WoJFL aired just after The Just For Laughs 15th Anniversary Special.  Guess who hosted The Just For Laughs 15th Anniversary Special?

Yeah, Kevin Bacon!  You sons of bitches.


CBC Pilot Burn-Off Time | Tangled

When I published an article about Tangled (CBC: CBC/Shaftesbury Films/Colossal Entertainment/Salient Point Productions Ltd., 2010) last week, I figured it would get a slightly above-average number of readers for a day, then flatline.  Pilot news and reviews generally don’t do well on URBMN, with the exception of B Team.

Tangled is by far the most-searched-for program this month on URBMN.  The article promoting Tangled has 13 comments (not including mine) so far.  Think about it – thirteen comments for a pilot aired in the dead of summer.  I’m usually lucky if one person gives a tinker’s piss about an unsold pilot on CBC, never mind thirteen.

Tangled is the sort of show that fits with CBC’s desired female demographic, yet can also attract a decent male audience.  Aside from the budgetary restrictions that can hobble a show like Tangled, I have no idea why CBC would reject this.  Foreign references are copious, but The Tudors gets away with worse.

Sarah Wayne Callies is Sally or Chloe – it depends on which part of her life one follows.  A sham marriage is planned around Sally/Chloe and Nick Hobbes (Bill Ward.)  Hobbes is seen as a rogue freelancer/former CIA golden boy stealing intel from Sally/Chloe’s employer, the North Atlantic Intelligence Agency (NAIA.)  NAIA is also trying to nail down main antagonist Oleg Gasparian.

Needless to say, there are the twists and turns common to an espionage show.  It’s all familiar stuff, but Tangled at least couches the espionage in proper human drama.  As a pilot, Tangled gives viewers a reason to care about Sally/Chloe’s life, convoluted as it is.

Callies is a bit stiff and monotonous as Sally/Chloe, but serviceable enough as a lead.  Ward plays Hobbes almost effortlessly.  Leslie Hope plays Sally/Chloe’s sister Marlene rather well, understandably miffed that Sally/Chloe has been playing dead for twelve years.  Hope doesn’t have a big part in the pilot, but she makes the most of her role.

I’m not exactly fond of the acting in Tangled.  The acting is a bit underplayed in general, aside from Ward’s character and a few minor characters I can’t name.  At the same time, the balance of action and drama sells Tangled.  Had Tangled made series, I’m sure it would have found its own level.

This isn’t the best pilot I’ve seen on CBC in 2010.  The Cult ranks highest on my list, for its excellent acting and choice of subject matter.  Tangled is still very good, better than the bet-hedging of the concept would suggest.  I sincerely hope Shaftesbury Films sells the series to another network or cable channel.

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