Canwest striving for ‘everything entertaining’

One of the chief focuses at yesterday's upfront was 'entirely new connections' for advertisers and viewers, says Starcom MediaVest Group's SVP investment director Valerie McMorran.

Ratings success, digital expansion and multiplatform opportunities were common themes that resonated throughout Canwest’s fall launch presentation, held yesterday morning at Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre.

Canwest Broadcasting president Kathy Dore highlighted the network’s success during the past year – despite the writers’ strike – with Global Television possessing five of the Top 10 shows in Vancouver and Calgary and four of the Top 10 shows in Toronto against adults 18-49.

The focus of the script returned to the future with the emphasis on the new Canwest, greater in size and scope and poised for ‘entirely new connections’ for advertisers and viewers.

In addition to returning favourites including House, Heroes (pictured), Survivor and The Office, 13 new series have been scheduled on Global and E!. Barb Williams, EVP content, unveiled the new lineups with the help of Entertainment Tonight Canada hosts Cheryl Hickey and Rick Campanelli.

We all know the merit of a proven formula. But in the case of Hollywood, replicating a successful series is not as easy as it sounds. So will new series 90210 (Global, Tuesdays at 9 pm) and Knight Rider (E!, Wednesdays at 8 pm) resonate with the new kids of today? Certainly the time period for 90210 is favourable, positioned after the hit drama House (Global, Tuesdays at 8 pm). And it offers alternative viewing to the time period competition, Dancing with the Stars on CTV. As for Knight Rider, let’s just say I’m getting flashbacks (not hot flashes) of Bionic Woman.

In the case of the reality genre, novelty does not seem to be a deciding factor for success. Deal or No Deal can be seen five days of the week (Monday-Friday 5-5:30 pm on E!) as well as in prime time (E!, Tuesday and Thursday 9-10 pm). Howie Mandel will also star in his own unscripted new comedy series, Howie Do It, on Global.

Importing foreign success is becoming a more typical programming strategy. Kath and Kim comes to Global (Thursdays at 9:30 pm) this fall. It’s based on the successful comedy in Australia, and stars Molly Shannon (SNL, Pushing Daisies) and Selma Blair (Legally Blonde) as a dysfunctional mother/daughter duo in suburbia. Life on Mars (Global, Thursdays at 10 pm) is a remake of the BBC series based on a modern-day police detective who finds himself transported back to the ’70s after a car accident.

Recipes for predicted success include The Office Spinoff as well as the animated comedy Sit Down, Shut Up (from the writers of Arrested Development and Two and a Half Men), both of which will arrive on Global mid-season. It is also expected that viewers will welcome some fresh daytime programming with the new series The Doctors (Global, Monday-Friday 3-4 pm). From the creative team behind Dr. Phil, this series will feature a dream team of five practising professionals who will discuss and investigate hot-button medical topics.

E! will continue to strive for ‘Everything Entertaining’ beyond E! News with returning favourites including The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? and Boston Legal (in its last season), as well as the aforementioned Deal or No Deal. One of the new series to come to E! this fall is Worst Week, a comedy about a man who becomes a complete goof when he’s around his girlfriend’s parents.

Crossover platforms were showcased with the example of Gordon Ramsay’s new program, The F Word, to air on Food Network. It will be heavily promoted via a new season of Kitchen Nightmares on Global. Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes) will host a new series to air on HGTV, Make it Right: New Orleans, which will feature a two-hour special on Global.

At the close of the near 90-minute presentation, Kathy Gardner, Canwest’s SVP, integrated research and corporate promotions, declared that Canwest’s broadband platform is in a better place now, and announced broadband streaming of all its new acquisitions. And while these words were pleasantly but quietly received, applause broke out with the words spoken by Errol Da-Re, EVP sales, who described ‘first-time-ever network offerings’ on both Global and E! this fall to offer a much-needed marketplace advantage.

Valerie McMorran is SVP/investment director at Toronto-based Starcom MediaVest Group.


(All times ET – New series bolded – (S) = Simulcast)

Show descriptions for new series follow these time slots. (For MiC coverage of new series on Canwest’s specialty nets, click here )


8 pm The Simpsons (S)
8:30 pm King of the Hill (S)
9 pm Family Guy (S)
9:30 pm American Dad (S)
10 pm Brothers and Sisters (S)

7 pm Entertainment Tonight Canada
7:30 pm Entertainment Tonight (S)
8 pm Prison Break
9 pm Heroes (S)
10 pm My Own Worst Enemy (S)

7 pm Entertainment Tonight Canada
7:30 pm Entertainment Tonight (S)
8 pm House (S)
9 pm 90210
10 pm Kitchen Nightmares (S)

7 pm Entertainment Tonight Canada
7:30 pm Entertainment Tonight (S)
8 pm Bones (S)
9 pm NCIS
10 pm The Guard

7 pm Entertainment Tonight Canada
7:30 pm Entertainment Tonight (S)
8 pm Survivor Gabon (S)
9 pm The Office (S)
9:30 pm Kath & Kim (S)
10 pm Life on Mars (S)

7 pm Entertainment Tonight Canada
7:30 pm Entertainment Tonight (S)
8 pm Life
9 pm The Ex-List (S)
10 pm Numb3rs (S)

8-11 pm Prime Canadian Rotation <


7 pm Instant Beauty Pageant
8 pm Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (S)
9 pm Weekly E! Special
10 pm The Real Housewives of Orange County

7 pm The Insider (S)
7:30 pm E! News
8 pm ‘Til Death
8:30 pm How I Met Your Mother (S)
9 pm Do Not Disturb
9:30 pm Worst Week (S)
10 pm Boston Legal (S)

7 pm The Insider (S)
7:30 pm E! News
8 pm The Biggest Loser (S)
10 pm The Best Years

7 pm The Insider (S)
7:30 pm E! News
8 pm Knight Rider (S)
9 pm Deal or No Deal (S)
10 pm True Hollywood Story

7 pm The Insider (S)
7:30 pm E! News
8 pm My Name is Earl (S)
8:30 pm My Name is Earl
9-11 pm E! Movie

7 pm The Insider (S)
7:30 pm E! News Weekend
8 pm Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? (S)
9 pm Deal or No Deal (S)
10 pm 20/20 (S)

7 pm E! News Weekend
7:30 pm The Soup
8 pm Snoop Dogg’s Fatherhood
8:30 pm Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane
9 pm Dr. 90210
10 pm Forbes Celebrity


90210 (Tuesdays at 9 pm this fall) is the hour-long remake of the original Beverly Hills 90210. It stars Shenae Grimes (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Tristan Wilds (The Wire), who attend the high school where their dad is principal.

The Animated Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie (15 half-hour eps, TBA) follows the exploits of the McKenzie brothers as they do their best to ‘beat the system,’ avoid work and have some fun in a changing Canadian society. Original McKenzie brothers Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis are producing it with Patricia Burns.

Cold Blood (10 hour-long eps) is a crime documentary series that showcases ten extraordinary murder mysteries. Each ep tells the story of a murder investigation that’s only solved thanks to a dramatic last-ditch forensics breakthrough.

The Doctors (hour-long eps, Monday-Friday at 3:30 pm this fall) is the new daytime series from the creative team behind Dr Phil. It puts a dream team of five doctors to work investigating hot-button medical issues.

Dollhouse (TBA) is about an underground group who’ve had their personalities wiped clean so they can take on new personas. They are confined to a secret facility known as the Dollhouse. It comes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and stars Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling).

The Ex-List (Fridays at 9 pm this fall) is about a 30-something business owner named Bella Bloom who learns from a psychic that she’s already dated her future husband. She needs to find him within a year or she’ll remain alone forever.

Harper’s Island (TBA) is a murder mystery that unfolds as friends and family attend a wedding on an island. It is directed by Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure, Jericho).

Howie Do It (NBC simulcast, six one-hour eps, TBA) stars Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel and his team of professional pranksters pulling tricks on unsuspecting targets.

Kath & Kim (Thursdays at 9:30 pm this fall) is the new half-hour comedy starring Molly Shannon (SNL, Pushing Daisies) and Selma Blair (Hellboy) as a dysfunctional mother/daughter duo.

The Last Templar (NBC simulcast, two hour-long eps, TBA) is based on Raymond Khoury’s best-selling novel of the same name. The romantic adventure revolves around a Manhattan archaeologist as she is drawn into a fast-paced mystery concerning the lost secrets of the medieval Templar Knights. It stars Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite) and Canadian Victor Garber (Alias).

Life on Mars (Thursdays at 10 pm this fall) is based on the BBC series about a cop who, after a car crash, is transported back to 1973 and still working as a detective.

Make It Right: New Orleans (two hour-long eps, TBA) sends HGTV’s Mike Holmes to help construct one of five homes that Brad Pitt’s charitable organization wants to have finished in time for the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2008. The homes are intended to be able to withstand natural disasters while reducing energy consumption.

My Own Worst Enemy (Mondays at 10 pm this fall) is the new one-hour drama starring Christian Slater as a man with two identities: a suburban family man and a secret operative trained to kill.

XIII (NBC simulcast, two hour-long eps, TBA) is a political thriller starring Stephen Dorff, who is on the run after being accused of assassinating the president of the United States. He suffers from amnesia and soon finds himself being chased by a determined mercenary, ‘Mongoose’ (Val Kilmer).

16:9 (36 half-hour eps, TBA) is a weekly news information series featuring investigative journalism. It will showcase modern and provocative truth-seeking stories that challenge perceptions and provoke debate.


Do Not Disturb (TBA) is a workplace comedy set at a hip New York hotel. It stars Jerry O’Connell (Crossing Jordan) and Robert Wagner.

Instant Beauty Pageant (six one-hour eps, Sundays at 7 pm) is a reality show that invades malls across Canada. Six ordinary women are ambushed while shopping and challenged by the show’s hosts, Cameron Mathison and Debbie Matenopoulos, to compete against each other in a beauty pageant.

Knight Rider (Wednesdays at 8 pm this fall) is the much-anticipated remake of the 1980s classic, and a followup to the TV movie remake aired earlier this year by Global. It stars Justin Bruening and Val Kilmer (The Doors) as the voice of KITT.

Producing Parker (13 half-hour eps, TBA) is an animated take on the daytime talk show genre. It follows the adventures of an overworked and underpaid producer and her quirky crew.

Secret Millionaire (TBA) is an unscripted series that takes some of America’s wealthiest individuals and sends them to live in some of the poorest neighbourhoods.

True Hollywood Story Canada (10 hour-long eps, TBA) will reveal the scoops and secrets of Canada’s Hollywood elite, including Jim Carrey, Kim Cattrall and Kiefer Sutherland.

Worst Week (Mondays at 9:30 pm this fall) is a half-hour comedy about an entertainment magazine editor who will do anything to please his girlfriend’s parents but always ends up making matters worse. The series stars Kyle Bornheimer (Jericho) and Erinn Hayes (Kitchen Confidential).