June 7, 2006
Global takes on CTV with fall sked
By BILL BRIOUX - Toronto Sun

Has Global got it back?

We'll find out today as the CanWest Global networks, including Global and CH, unveil their 2006-07 lineups. Full details will be spilled today at their star-studded advertiser upfront, this year at Toronto's Massey Hall.

Last season was a rebuilding year for Global/CH, which made gains with soaring shows such as House (so popular it beat the finale of American Idol in Toronto last week, according to Nielsen) and Howie Mandel's surprisingly popular Deal Or No Deal.

Global also scored this season by moving their National News with Kevin Newman to 6 p.m. right across the country. Global's Vancouver-based, supper hour newscast has consistently beaten CTV and CBC's late night national newscasts ever since. (CTV still claimed their national news was No. 1 at their Monday upfront, with "including weekends" the qualifier on a chart that flashed before advertising reps in the blink of an eye.)

Add hot rookie Prison Break and the successful launch of Entertainment Tonight Canada and Global showed signs of coming out of its post-Friends funk.

Still, CTV had 17 of the Top-20 shows nationally this past season, forcing Global to shake up its schedule once again. Eight new, imported hour-long dramas are being announced today, with another six rookies being added next fall to CH's schedule.

Global needs to attack CTV's across-the-board 10 p.m. stranglehold. Four of their new dramas will air at that hour, including Sunday's Brothers And Sisters (a prime-time soap starring Calista Flockhart and Six Feet Under's Rachel Griffiths), which will compete with CTV's big buzz rookie Studio 60 At The Sunset Strip. With lead-ins like The Amazing Race and Desperate Housewives, CTV will win nationally, but it could get interesting in Toronto and Vancouver.

Thursdays, Global is simulcasting CBS's new legal drama Shark, starring James Woods and Jeri Ryan, against CTV's aging medical drama ER. Shark will have to be better than its pilot, basically a hasty House makeover, but Woods should get sampled.

Full details of Global's new schedule will appear in tomorrow's Sun.

BUSY FALL FOR CTV SPECIALTY NETS: The e-mails are still flooding in, but here are a few CTV specialty network headlines for fall: Discovery is adding 14 new series, including Star Racer, a Canadian auto racing reality series from the producers of Canadian Idol. Stunt Junkies, Daily Planet In China and Dino Lab are other new Discovery titles.

OLN has nine new series including Road Hockey Rumble, a 13-part series about two obsessed ball hockey nutbars, Calum and Mark, who embark on a cross Canada grudge match.

TSN will be the home of the new ESPN Monday Night Football this fall and is also re-launching SportsCentre in high definition. And The Comedy Network is adding seven new series, with scary titles such as Punched Up, Celebrity Deathmatch and Suburban Shootout. We've heard of physical comedy but this is ridiculous.