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CBC adds more Strombo to boost fall lineup

CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos


CBC viewers are going to get a lot more Stombo after the broadcaster announced on Thursday that it is adding a 7 p.m. time slot for the popular late night talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, which it is banking will be a strong lead-in for its prime-time schedule.

Stroumboulopoulos's new home – the half-hour show will repeat again at its regular time slot, 11:30 p.m. – comes as CBC faces the onerous challenge of cutting costs across the board after its budget was slashed by $115-million over three years.

On Thursday, Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president of CBC English Services, used a splashy fall launch event as an occasion to defend her network's relevance as a "modern" and "resilient" public broadcaster.

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"News of CBC's demise is greatly exaggerated," she said from stage set up as a runway (and which looked like something borrowed from the now-cancelled Battle of the Blades). "We won't be retreating. We are moving forward."

Stroumboulopoulos's new positioning seems designed to fill holes left by the departing U.S. game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.

"We believe in George," said Trevor Walton, executive director of commissioned and scripted programming at the CBC. "He has a great ability to bring people onto the show. And with those shows not coming back, we wanted something that was CBC, something that was Canadian, and something that had a legitimate, potential life there."

Currently, the popular series Coronation Street airs at 7 p.m. It was not clear yesterday where the British drama will land in CBC's fall schedule.

It will return, however, along with Arctic Air, Republic of Doyle, the period drama The Murdoch Mysteries, and a new cop show, Cracked, which teams a police officer and a psychologist to solve mental health-related crimes. Details of the prime-time schedule were not released yesterday; Cracked will air at 9 p.m. in January on a weekday still to be announced.

Also debuting in September is Over The Rainbow, an eight-week reality show to find the actress to play Dorothy in the Toronto production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. This is the second time the CBC has teamed up with Mirvish Productions, which previously used the reality format in 2008 to cast Maria in the Toronto production of The Sound of Music.

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