TORONTO – Less was more for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as it unveiled its Fall schedule at an informal and understated presentation at the CBC Building on Wednesday afternoon.
In a presentation that was as unique as its programming, CBC’s upfront was completely different from the Rogers, Shaw Media and Bell Media spectacles that preceded it. It opened with live music from The Midway State and with standing-room seating only, the intimate vibe resembled more of an independent rock concert than a stuffy ad exec environment.
Cover Me Canada Host Nicole Appleton
The perennial face of CBC, George Stroumboulopoulos served as the host for the event and threw to short video packages introducing the Fall line-up, highlighted by the announcement of Cover Me Canada. a new elimination-style music competition show where nine unsigned musical acts will eventually cover classic Canadian songs in front of a panel of high-profile music judges. The twist here is that while the public will be able to vote, they will only be able to decide who will be immune while the judges will decide the eliminations. The series will be hosted by former All Saints singer, Nicole Appleton, who also made an appearance at the presentation. The show premieres on September 18.
CBC stalwart Peter Mansbridge also appeared to quickly throw to another package that highlighted the network’s news programming.
Kristine Stewart, CBC’s executive vice president discussed the new programming, highlighted by the imported Starz series Camelot, a fresh take on the classic medieval story of King Arthur. The star-studded cast includes Joseph Fiennes and Claire Forlani.
It’s clear that the network has embraced reality television, not only with the launch of Cover Me Canada but also by announcing new seasons of Battle Of The Blades and Dragon’s Den. There will be a new Dragon on-board as the recently-departed W. Brett Wilson will be replaced by Lavalife founder Bruce Croxon.
Here’s how it shakes out:
Being Erica Cast
Mondays will start the week off with the Battle Of The Blades results at 8 p.m. followed by returning seasons of InSecurity and Being Erica. Being Erica will be an interesting as things turn around for the lead character, Erica Strange (played by Erin Karpluk) as she begins doctor training to take her friends and family back in time in the upcoming season.
Tuesdays feature the returning Rick Mercer Report and 22 Minutes followed by the aforementioned Camelot.
Wednesdays open with Dragon’s Den and then the debut of one of the network’s new shows. Co-produced and co-directed by Don McKellarMichael: Tuesdays & Thursdays features a look at the 15-year relationship shared between a patient and his psychiatrist. To me, its plotline resonated a lot with What About Bob?, the old Bill Murray movie (and yes, it is ironic that it is not airing on either of the days in its title). That will be followed by The Debators, the radio-to-TV show that will be hosted by Steve Patterson.
The Nature Of Things and Doc Zone return to fill out Thursday nights on the CBC sked.
Fridays include The Ron James Show, an encore of Rick Mercer and the fifth estate.
Obviously, Hockey Night In Canada will continue to anchor Saturday nights.
Sundays will include the returning Heartland, the performance episode of Battle Of The Blades and Cover Me Canada.
At the end of the day, the network’s launch event, line-up and stars in attendance stayed true to the network’s mandate. Strictly Canadian.
Stay tuned for my exclusive interviews with the casts of Being Erica, Little Mosque On The Prairie, and Dragon’s Den. I also talked to Lara Jean Chorostecki from Camelot.