TORONTO – In a time of television uncertainty, it’s clear Citytv wasn’t taking any chances as it was the only network to bring out the stars for it’s Upfront presentation yesterday at the Cannon Theatre in Toronto.
While competitors CTV and Canwest Global chose to dial back the U.S. star power this year, Rogers took a different route and brought in the imported American talent and the cast of new hit comedy Community didn’t disappoint.
Alison Brie (Annie), Donald Glover (Troy), Danni Pudi (Abed) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) did a small press junket prior to the Citytv fall announcement and proved that they are just as funny in-person as they are on the show. [For those wondering, my interview with them will be featured later.]
Community can also be banked upon to have an even better season as it no longer faces Survivor which was moved to Wednesdays.
At the presentation itself, Citytv proved that bigger is better. The network opened their show with a performance by the cast of Rock of Ages which seemed a little out of place but certainly was a good way to get the buyers in attendance fired up. That was followed up with the schedule being presented by Rogers Media Television Chief Executive Officer Leslie Sole and Executive Vice-President of Programming Malcolm Dunlop.
As for the new shows that Citytv plans to roll out? It picked up five new dramas including the newest J.J. Abrams project Undercovers which received the most pre-season buzz during the U.S. screenings and will run in simulcast with NBC. The show revolves around the idea of a television version of movie blockbuster Mr. & Mrs. Smith. A husband and wife team (Boris Kodjoe & Gugu Mbatha-Raw) of spies retire after falling in love only to return to the world of espionage when one of their colleagues goes missing. Abrams clearly has a penchant for the CIA dramas and it is for this reason that Undercovers is worth a look if only because of the precedent Abrams has set for himself given the success of his previous spy series, Alias.
Dunlop described Citytv’s other major pick-up The Event as the show that is designated to capitalize on the voids left by the departures of 24 and Lost. That is big praise and even bigger pressure. The show stars Jason Ritter who plays Sean Walker. Walker is the everyman whose girlfriend goes missing and as he tries to find her, he uncovers the biggest cover-up in US history. Blair Underwood also stars in the show which seems like one enormous mystery. There is no doubt that it will either be a direct hit with audiences or completely off the mark, so it is one to watch. Citytv is obviously very confident in its abilities as it was given the prime Monday slot and will go head-to-head against Global’s Lonestar. In my estimation, only one of the two will return.
The other City pick-ups include NBC’s Chase (Mondays), The Whole Truth (Wednesdays) and new comedy Rules Of Engagement which will lead into The Event.
The other major announcement made by Dunlop and company was the pick-up of Fringe which will move to City after stints on both CTV and A.
All in all, it was an impressive showing for the network.