Rogers revamps City schedule

City's upcoming fare was unveiled late last week without a formal presentation to ad buyers or the news media.

Citytv’s fall schedule has had a major facelift and, with the exception of comedy Ugly Betty on Thursdays, looks completely different from last year, as Rogers Media execs seek to bring more stability to the former CHUM channel.

‘For the first time between 7 and 11 pm, we have a consistent schedule on Citytv in every single market,’ says Rogers EVP of programming Malcolm Dunlop. ‘We feel this schedule will grow [City's audience].’

For starters, the network is doing away with prime-time movie blocks, looking to fill the spots with new and established scripted series including Lipstick Jungle from Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell, adventure drama Crusoe, Winnipeg-shot Canuck comedy Less Than Kind and plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck.

The City menu, unveiled late last week without a formal presentation to ad buyers or the press, will also see none of the usual sci-fi and fantasy fare such as last fall’s Stargate SG-1, Blood Ties, Supernatural and Reaper.

‘They’re definitely trying to make the station lighter, in terms of programming that’s not so dark or sci-fi-themed,’ says media buyer Valerie McMorran, of Starcom MediaVest. She notes that the fall lineup skews more female, citing Lipstick Jungle, Nip/Tuck and Ugly Betty as titles that will draw predominantly women.

City will air the reality Celebrity Fit Club and the second season of spy comedy Chuck (in simulcast with NBC) on Mondays, while Curb Your Enthusiasm and Less Than Kind highlight the 10 pm comedy block, looking to counter CTV’s CSI: Miami.

The soapy drama Surviving the Filthy Rich, which City acquired from The CW, airs Tuesdays along with the Ashton Kutcher game show Opportunity Knocks, while Nip/Tuck fills the 10 pm slot across all five stations.

Shows airing on fashion-themed Wednesdays are reality series Stylista and Glam God, the latter hosted by Vivica A. Fox, followed by Lipstick Jungle, which is about three powerful career women. Ugly Betty returns in simulcast with ABC on Thursdays.

Crusoe will look to draw families on Fridays at 9 pm alongside the Canadian-produced rock star drama Kaya, picked up from MTV.

Instead of Friends and Access Hollywood, City will rely on reruns of Law & Order: SVU, weekdays at 7 pm, to lead audiences into its prime-time programming block. ‘We decided that we needed a really solid 7 pm show right across the board to transition into the rest of the night,’ explains Dunlop.

The broadcaster also grabbed NFL football games, while midseason replacements include American Gladiators, Hell’s Kitchen, The Bachelor and Scrubs. The long-running City program Speakers Corner – in its time a cornerstone of CHUM programming – will be taken off the schedule on Aug. 31. City also recently cancelled Silverman Helps, ending the 19-year run of consumer advocate and veteran newsman Peter Silverman.

City is laying off another six behind-the-scenes staffers over the next several weeks, cutting John Nairn, supervisor of program operations, along with senior programming staffers Yasna Ducros and Jeffrey Anthony, VTR editor Michelle Birrell, researcher Cristina Tenaglia and creative services writer/producer Paula Virany. The cuts are due to changes in the Citys’ fall schedule and part of the company’s overall streamlining, according to an email sent to staff by Jamie Haggarty, Rogers’ EVP of television operations.

From Playback Daily