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Jon Stewart pops CTV's promotional balloon

Leave it to Jon Stewart (right) of The Daily Show to punch holes in CTV's promotional balloon! The following story, by Lee-Anne Goodman of the Canadian Press, appeared June 5 in the Halifax Daily News. You couldn't invent wickedly funnier satire than this if you tried!

CTV patted itself on the back yesterday for a fall prime-time lineup abundant with big American blockbusters and even more U.S. shows the network hopes will become the smash hits of next season - but it took a fake American newsman to state the obvious.

"You've done a great job there, airing all those American shows and taking credit for them," Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, said in a videotaped message to the tittering audience gathered for the launch at Toronto's new downtown opera house.

Stewart, whose show airs on CTV and the Comedy Network in Canada, reminded the assembled crowd of advertisers, CTV brass and media: "The C in CSI doesn't stand for Canada."

The launch, hosted by Susanne Boyce, CTV's president of programming, was big on glitz, glamour and talent.

Canadian Donald Sutherland, in fact, was treated to a standing ovation as he took to the stage to promote his new show, Dirty Sexy Money.

Kate Walsh was also on hand to plug her Grey's Anatomy spinoff, Private Practice, as was Shemar Moore, promoting his returning drama, Criminal Minds.

Boyce pointed out that 16 of the 20 highest-rated shows on television are returning to the private broadcaster this fall, including Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Lost, American Idol, Medium, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York.

Seven new shows - all of them American - are joining the roster, in addition to Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money.

They include the dramas Gossip Girl, based on the series of novels about spoiled New York socialites from the creator of The O.C.; Moonlight, Pushing Daisies and the sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

Dirty Sexy Money, also starring Peter Krause, and Big Shots, about four businessmen on the make, looked the most promising.

Of the seven trailers aired for the crowd at the launch, in fact, the one for Big Shots - described as Desperate CEOs by Boyce and starring Dylan McDermott and Michael Vartan - got the biggest laughs.

The private broadcaster has also inked a deal with the NFL, and will air the regular season early Sunday game, the entire NFL playoff slate and the Super Bowl.

Legendary NFL coach Jimmy Johnson was on hand at the launch, taking to the stage with the famed Vince Lombardi Trophy in his hands.

Ivan Fecan (right), CTVglobemedia president and CEO, was also at the launch to make the pitch to the advertisers in attendance.

"Only CTV has so many great hits," Fecan said. "Let me sum it all up for you - the best content, sizzle, smart scheduling, innovation, service and track record. What does it spell? No.1, and we're going to stay that way."

It was all in stark contrast to last week's CBC fall launch, where there was a serious sense of celebration as the public broadcaster lauded homegrown hits like Little Mosque on The Prairie and The Rick Mercer Report.

CTV, on the other hand, celebrated its success at picking winners from among U.S. offerings. The network hand-picked the new shows from recent trade screenings in Los Angeles.

The network's Canadian shows, in fact, weren't highlighted till midway through the launch, when Brent Butt took to the stage to promote the upcoming season of the beloved hit sitcom, Corner Gas.

Degrassi: The Next Generation, Whistler and Robson Arms join Corner Gas on the slate of returning Canadian shows, but there were no new ones on the schedule.

A CTV official says the network will announce some new Canadian shows later in the year.

One of the highlights of the launch was a media version of So You Think You Can Dance contest as various media executives - none of them household names - were paired with professional dancers to compete for the crowd. A hip-hop number was the crowd favourite.

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