CTV set to roll out mid-season slate, despite strike

As the Hollywood writers' strike continues, CTV is urging media planners and buyers to consider its new and returning mid-season fare amid uncertainty about the near future of prime time. The net is also set to reveal a previously unannounced juicy title to its mid-season slate.

As speculation and, yes, even doomsday-like predictions about the near future of prime time swirl in the news about the Hollywood writers’ strike, CTV recently sent a letter reassuring its media agency clients that some of the biggest shows on Canadian TV are returning in January.

While the net professes confidence in its slate of new programming, the letter also states that credits may be requested if media buyers feel their clients’ needs are not being met. In some cases, where possible, buyers’ purchases may be supplemented with bonus spots.

One show that has yet to be officially announced, and will likely pique interest, is CTV’s new acquisition for the mid-season, Lipstick Jungle, starring Brooke Shields and based on the Candace Bushnell novel.

The net’s communique to buyers also drummed up interest in its other four new big-buzz acquisitions for the mid-season sked, which include Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dance Wars: Bruno vs. Carrie (a Dancing with the Stars spin-off), the new drama series Eli Stone, and reality series Oprah’s Big Give (from Harpo productions and Amazing Race executive producer Bertram van Muster). In terms of other shows the net expects to deliver, which will not be affected by the strike, there’s seven episodes of Jericho, 13 of Dirt, eight of 4Real and eight of The New Adventures of Old Christine.

At the top of the list of returning shows is the ratings juggernaut American Idol (premiering Tuesday, Jan. 15). Already in the can for 2008 are 10 other series, including Lost, Medium, Law & Order, Corner Gas, Nip/Tuck, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Robson Arms and Instant Star. Also expected to debut before the end of the 2007/2008 television season are new cycles of hit series So You Think You Can Dance? and Dancing with the Stars. Of course, CTV’s also home to the Golden Globes (Jan. 13), the SuperBowl (Feb. 3), the Academy Awards (Feb. 24) and the Junos (April 6). Movies and miniseries will include Mayerthorpe, Elijah, She Drives Me Crazy, Sticks and Stones, The Terrorist Next Door, Who Named the Knife and the two-part, four-hour miniseries Would Be Kings.

American media outlets reported yesterday that pilot development for the 2008-09 season could be at serious risk if the strike doesn’t end soon, with some sources saying that if writers aren’t back on the job by January or February, 25-50% of the usual number of pilots may be scrapped. CTV declined to comment on such highly speculative reports and predictions, saying the net is focusing on day-to-day realities.

Click here for last week’s coverage – with comments from media strategists – on the Hollywood writers’ strike.