[UPFRONTS] – LIVE COVERAGE – Murtzcellanious: CTV's Fall Launch 2007

CTV might as well be named See-TV because if you want to watch anything in Canada, the chances are that CTV has it. The network is clearly the one-stop shop for the latest and greatest in primetime programming.

The network announced its Fall 2007 primetime schedule yesterday at the annual Upfront presentation in Toronto.

After interviewing the network’s newest crop of stars in the morning (look for those interviews when the shows premiere), the festivities started at 4 PM at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. For our American friends, CTV is a Canadian broadcasting network that generally secures the Canadian rights to some of the top American programs in addition to providing its own original programming as well. The initial video package focused specifically on the network’s established hits and including quick scenes from Grey’s Anatomy, CSI (all three versions) and Lost.

Next up for the media and ad buyers in attendances was a short video message and spoof from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. Tons of gags here including Stewart talking about Canadians always pushing for compromise with Canadian Idol and American Idol and the fact that CTV shows all three CSI versions, pointing out that the “C in CSI doesn’t stand for Canadian.” He also got one of his Canadian cohorts to translate a good luck message to CTV in “Canadian.” Funny stuff.

CTV’s Senior Vice-President of Sales & Marketing, Rita Fabian came out next and introduced another video package.

“We’re #1… and we’re going to stay that way”.

The President and CEO of CTV Globemedia, Ivan Fecan came out next and generally being the most quotable person at the CTV presentation, Fecan didn’t disappoint as he promised that the network would continue to stay in the #1 position, talked about CTV’s dominance on the list of Top 20 shows in Canada, and that they didn’t take the business with their advertisers for granted.

Surprise, take two… and three!

At last year’s Upfront presentation, CTV President Rick Brace was responsible for introducing the evening’s biggest shocker, when he announced that critically-acclaimed sports reporter Brian Williams was joining the network. This year, he also came out with a couple of surprises. To support the announcement of CTV now holding the Canadian broadcasting rights to the Super Bowl, Brace came out with Jimmy Johnson and the Vince Lombardi trophy. It was then time for the highlight of the day.

So You Think You Can Dance With A Media Star

Apparently, some of the top ad buyers in the country had been practicing their moves with some of the So You Think You Can Dance dancers for the past week. It was kind of like Dancing With The Stars in warp speed. It was now time for the culmination of their efforts as they would compete against each other on the Upfront Stage in contest that was anything but impromptu. In fact, Ben Mulroney was there to host it!

I cannot rave about this idea enough. I thought that it was brilliant. It was fun to watch, was well executed and amazing in the sense that you totally would not expect high-powered ad executives to be willing to put on these strange constumes and dance in front of an audience of strangers. I mean, that is Murtz-like behavior! Haha.

I also liked this idea because it basically captured the essence of what the Upfronts are all about. It impressed the people in attendance, it pushed CTV programming (So You Think You Dance & Dancing With The Stars) and it was an incredibly original idea. I loved it!

“We love quirky and quality…”

After the dance-off, CTV’s President of Programming Susanne Boyce came out to get down to the nitty-gritty. The new shows. Highlighting the fact that the network had great success with Grey’s Anatomy, she said that the commitment to interesting and innovative programming was still the network’s top priority.

Nobody was shocked when she started with the most anticipated new-program of 2007, Private Practice (the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off). Boyce described it as being ‘essentially sex without the surgery’ and I think that was a very apt description.

It was then time for the bevy of stars to start making their appearances. They included:

– Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds)
– Kate Walsh (Private Practice)
– Samaire Armstrong & Donald Sutherland (Dirty Sexy Money)
– Penn Badgley, Leighton Meester and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl)

Brent Butt from Corner Gas also came out to introduce the new comedy block on CTV that will be anchored by new show, The Big Bang Theory and shockingly Two And A Half Men (which CH presumably had to drop from their line-up with the E! transformation). CTV also picked up Global hit, Without A Trace.

I will have my full thoughts on the new CTV shows coming up later today.

Party
A good time as per usual. While I missed the show-themed rooms from last year, I definitely enjoyed the food and revelry as per usual. CTV is known for their dedication to throwing the best parties around and this was no exception.

I will have my full thoughts on the new pilots coming up next. Stay tuned.

Check out my coverage of CTV’s 2006 Upfront presentation here.

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