October 23, 2014

TV News | CITF announces The Book of Negroes North American premiere for 2014 festival

The Canadian International Television Festival quietly announced (as in, first mentioned on Twitter) the North American premiere of CBC/BET event mini-series The Book of Negroes on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, following TBoN’s world premiere at MIPCOM in Cannes, France. Announced attendees include actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Aunjanue Ellis, Lyriq Bent, Allan Hawco, and Louis Gossett Jr., director Clement Virgo, executive producer Damon D’Oliveira, and The Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill. A panel discussion with aforementioned TBoN talents follows the screening.

The second Canadian International Television Festival runs from November 14 to 23, 2014, in a format change from the initial three-day festival. Although there is no mention of where The Book of Negroes screens, based on last year’s events and this press release, The Book of Negroes’ premiere likely screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Ticket information follows in the weeks leading up to CITF.

Shows previously screened at CITF before their Canadian television debuts include Bravo’s English adaptation of 19-2, and CTV sitcom Spun Out. This is the first CBC show to screen at the Canadian International Television Festival before its debut, although the 19-2 premiere was a reworked version of the original CBC pilot.


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June 2, 2009

TV Review | The Listener 1.1, 1.2 – “I’m An Adult Now,” “Emotional Rescue”

The Listener (CTV/SPACE/NBC: premieres June 3, 10:00 PM ET on CTV, 7:00 PM ET on SPACE; in regular timeslot starting June 4, 10:00 PM ET on CTV, 7:00 PM ET on SPACE; two-hour premiere June 4, 9:00 PM ET/8:00 CT on NBC) is the type of filler CTV used to air quite a bit of in the 1990s.  It fits right in with FX: The Series, La Femme Nikita and John Woo’s Once a Thief – watchable enough that it should acquire a fan following, but lightweight.

What amazes me is that NBC bought the show for its summer schedule.  I’m not saying Canadian television is superior to American television – for every Slings and Arrows there are five to ten Gutter Ball Alleys.  The Listener was bought by NBC due both to the WGA writer’s strike and its abandonment of the traditional development process.

The Canadian shows floated on American networks aren’t the best, either – Flashpoint is workmanlike and entertaining, but it’s a cop procedural in a sea of cop procedurals.  The Listener seems more suited for a SciFi (I’m sorry, SyFy) airing than a summer slot on NBC.  Of course, NBC’s prime-time ratings are almost the lowest they’ve ever been, so any edge, I guess.

Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) is the central protagonist of the series.  The first episode sets up Logan’s world – his coming to terms with his mind-reading, his relationship with mentor Dr. Ray Mercer (Colm Feore), his personal life and day job as a paramedic.  The Listener establishes its premise, gives the viewer a few characters to love/hate and fucks around for an hour.

It’s standard dramatic sci-fi television, Early Edition with mindreading taking the place of a magic newspaper.  I also get a Millennium vibe from Logan’s mind-pictures.  The Listener could have easily debuted in 1996, so well-worn is its premise.

The second episode, which NBC decided to pair with the first on the same night, strengthens Logan’s relationship with Detective Charlene “Charlie” Marks (Lisa Marcos), a tough cop who can’t discern how someone like Logan is able to anticipate events better than she can.  Small spoiler: someone falls from a large height in both episodes.  The Listener is the very definition of cookie cutter.

Aside from Dr. Mercer and fellow paramedic Osman Bey (Ennis Esmer), The Listener‘s characters aren’t very interesting.  Feore and Esmer do what they can with their material, as they are the only two convincing actors on the show.  Olejnik isn’t horrible as the lead character, but he’s too slight to focus on week after week.  He’s only there as The Listener‘s main himbo.

NBC is placing a lot of faith in The Listener since it recently gave the show a two-hour block to debut in.  Despite this, I wonder about The Listener‘s success.  Either NBC’s hoping for The Listener to become a summer hit or it’s burning the show off like flash paper.

CTV has joined in the rescheduling madness, so I’m leaning towards the former scenario.  Hell, I’m hoping The Listener hits big.  I just wish The Listener was a less generic, more interesting show, but that’s the American prime-time bran tub for you.

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