Sean Davidson

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Articles by Sean Davidson

Buttignol joins Knowledge Network

Rudy Buttignol, best known as creative head of programming at TVOntario, has stepped in as interim president/CEO of the BC educaster.


HD cable shuffle underway at CRTC

Broadcast execs converge on Gatineau as feds prepare to redraw the map of cable TV.


Astral links brands with fans via consumer products

Now it’s all revved up to hook brands up with shows and entice niche demos with licensed merch.


HD Networks schedule Nip/Tuck

CTV has added the fourth season of Nip/Tuck to its weekend schedule and, as a perk, to its broadband site.


TSN gets more NASCAR rights

The sportscaster has expanded its relationship with NASCAR Canada yet again by extending its rights for key races into 2010.


CBC’s Stursberg unveils plan for ’07

CBC will develop more broad-appeal series and follow through on its news overhaul, according to a ‘state of the union’ letter from the net’s programming czar.


CTV may air MOW on Pickton

As the trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton proceeds, a TV movie about him is in development for CTV.


TVA eyes sports, sitcoms for T1

Now that he’s got it, Serge Bellerose still isn’t sure what to do with Toronto 1. But that’s okay, he says, no rush. There won’t be any real changes at the struggling station until fall, which gives him and the other brass at Quebecor a bit of time to figure out what went wrong and how to set it right.
TVA and Sun Media, both arms of the Quebecor empire, bought the station from CHUM late last year and will spend the better part of 2005 running market research in the Ontario capital, he says, examining public perception of the station and its programming, which failed to attract significant viewers or advertisers after an ambitious launch in late 2003.


Famous shoots for hockey

Famous Players thinks there could be an upside to the NHL strike, and is hitting up the sponsors of Hockey Night in Canada and other shinny shows that are now on hold to buy ad time in its theaters, hoping to scoop the unused ad dollars.


CAB, CCTA battle over ads

Broadcasters and cable companies are again locking horns over the question of U.S. specialty channels – arguing in recent submissions to the CRTC that a plan to insert more Canadian ads on channels such as CNN, A&E and TLC is either necessary for cablers to stay competitive, or, conversely, would undermine long-held rules regarding local and Canadian content.


Instant Star is packaged with tie-ins and has room for a few more brands to join the cast

Even if you know absolutely nothing about the new CTV series Instant Star, you could probably piece together its basic story by skimming the resume of exec producer Stephen Stohn. Go on, give it a shot. Stohn was a musician and songwriter back in the ’70s, he produces this country’s most popular teen drama, and moonlights as a lawyer for Canadian Idol. Stohn has represented the finalists on both seasons of the summer-long karaoke contest and has had a front-row seat as the likes of Ryan Malcolm and Kalan Porter were thrown head-first into the glittery snakepit of the music business.
‘Now I’m bringing it all together in one show,’ he says with a laugh, a half-hour drama about a 15 year-old singer – Jude, played by Vancouver’s Alexz Johnson (Selling Innocence, So Weird) – whose otherwise normal life is taken over by the demands of fame after a winning turn on a reality show. The $8-million series – which still has sponsorship opportunities with product placement and integration – has been speeding through production at Toronto’s Epitome Pictures since spring, and debuts on CTV early next year, building on the success of both Idol and Degrassi: The Next Generation, another Epitome show. CTV ran a sneak preview of the first two Instant Stars right after the Idol finale, luring more than a million of Idol’s 3.3 million (2+) viewers through the 9 p.m. timeslot.
The characters will need fleshing out, but the brisk pace and glam lighting helped smooth out the rough spots, enough that teen viewers will probably look for more when the regular season airs in January in its 8 p.m. slot. The second ep saw some better character development and a less crowded story.
It is not surprising that CTV has jumped on the series. Instant Star combines elements from two of its most successful homegrown shows and, if it catches on, will keep Idol fans tuned in (and thinking about reality TV, no less) during the winter hiatus.
There will also be an Instant Star CD, due in stores just prior to the series’ debut, featuring a dozen or so songs from the show – and plans are afoot for marketing tie-ins with radio and retailers. The CD will be carried by The Orange Record Label, which is distributed in Canada by Universal, and sold online via Every episode includes one song, or part thereof, performed by Johnson and cowritten with a team of musicians, including Juno winner Lisa Dalbello, Marc Jordan, Christopher Ward and Damhnait Doyle. ‘An album a year, 12 songs a year and hopefully very accessible,’ says Stohn. ‘And we’ll keep pumping them out. None of this ‘waiting five years until the sales have trickled off’ business.’
Stohn notes that a lot of teen- and hipster-aimed shows (Smallville, The O.C., etc.) are taking advantage of music tie-ins – either by turning out their own CDs or by plugging particular bands – but says the Star approach is different, in that its music gets worked into the narrative, often during key scenes. Instant Star has also been picked up by the youth-aimed The N in the U.S., paving the way for a powerful marketing push from its parent MTV.