Global Television Network unveiled a fall lineup yesterday that was heavy on reality shows and live news, but light on new made-in-Canada programming.
At a press conference in Toronto, Global's top TV executives provided an overview of its upcoming season, pronouncing that "a commitment to quality Canadian programming continues to be a top priority in 2001-2002."
However, there was not a single, new indigenous drama or comedy on the table.
Global added two new Canadian reality shows to its prime-time schedule. No Boundaries (touted as Canada's very own Eco-Challenge) and Supermodels (a reality search for Canada's most radiant woman) -- programs that have been tried and tested in other markets and will be co-produced with Global TV.
The network brought back several existing Canadian programs, such as: the historical spoof Black Fly with the comedian Ron James; the adult cartoon Bob & Margaret;the cop drama Blue Murder; Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda;the sci-fi series The Outer Limits, and, Big Sound,the Vancouver-based drama that stars Greg Evigan as a divorced music manager.
Gerry Noble, chief executive officer of Global Communications Ltd., defended the lineup and commitment to Canadian content yesterday, saying: "We've had success with Blue Black Fly and Big Sound."
Doug Hoover, senior vice-president of programming and promotions at Global, said: "Although we may not be coming up with a whole bunch of new titles, we are producing more programs that we hope will be successful rather than spinning our wheels."
The executives were grilled for details about show placement and about new U.S. shows that reportedly have been picked up, such as The Education of Max Bickford (with Richard Dreyfuss as a college professor), and 24 (a CIA drama with Kiefer Sutherland).
Details of the network's new specialty channels for this fall will be released tonight.
Coming back to Global this season is the hit docu-soap Popstars,about the creation and development of an all-Canadian, all-girl group. Popstars II has a new mission -- to create a boy-girl group.
The new additions to Global's reality genre are No Boundaries,a 13-part reality-adventure series produced by Lions Gate Entertainment and shot in British Columbia. Supermodels is from the producer of Popstars (Lone Eagle Entertainment). The eight-part reality series will chronicle the search for a Canadian supermodel.
Loren Mawhinney, vice-president of Canadian production at Global, conceded that when Supermodels was pitched to her, she thought it was not nearly as inspirational as Popstars.
But the show is more popular than Popstars in Britain and Australia, she said. "The appeal of the show is in the backstage gossip, the in-fighting that goes on behind the scenes. There are heroes and antiheroes, like in Survivor."
Global also introduced the anchor for its flagship national newscast, Global National News. Kevin Newman, who walked to the podium with a slight limp (he slipped on his dock in British Columbia), said he's spent most of the past few months criss-crossing the country, getting to know journalists working at the TV and newspaper newsrooms that now fall under the CanWest Global Communications banner.
(CanWest now owns Conrad Black's vast newspaper chain, including The National Post, and is integrating the broadcast assets of WIC Western.)
Newman's group will be based out of Vancouver and plan to launch Global National News this September. The 41-year-old broadcaster joins Global from ABC, where he filled in for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and co-hosted Good Morning America.
He said he hopes to bring newspaper reporters into some of the on-air stories, using their expertise to provide meatier reports.
Added Noble: "We're trying to take advantage and maximize the assets of the TV group and meld it with the newspaper group. We're trying to take a co-ordinated approach to issues of the day."
Also in development is a current-affairs program to be based in Calgary, called This Country.
Peter Kent will play a key on-air role. Global officials promised that it will be a "must-watch for political junkies and newsmakers." It will be positioned early Sunday nights with Global's local weekend newscasts.