Monday, May 7, 2012

The Fall TV Season Starts Right Now

I know May is traditionally the time for TV cliffhangers galore.
But as far as TV programmers go this season is finished and the next one, fall '02, has already started.
On Thursday CBC unveils its schedule which will be somewhat diminished by federal budget cuts.
And this upcoming Monday last place U.S. network NBC struts its stuff before thousands of advertiser buyers in New York.
And, yes, it all affects Canadian viewers, too.
Right after the "Upfronts" the Canadian network executives wing their way to Los Angeles to begin the complicated business of forking out over $600 million on the new product.
It didn't exactly play out the way our Canadian execs thought it would.
But hey I remember when CTV bough the first season of Desperate Housewives as its extra show to plop in when something else failed. It originally ran Sunday afternoons at 4.
Within weeks it was being simulcast with ABC Sunday nights at 9 as a contender for first place in the ratings.
And last year Global outbid everybody for rights to the remake of Prime Suspect calling it the season's best. And predictably it tanked.
CTV had high hopes for Pan Am which was supposed to take off like Mad Men and it sank ever lower in the ratings by the week.
This year NBC gets to go first and the predictions are pretty dire.
True, The Voice was a big new hit. But it's lonely at the top.
NBC's Smash has morphed into a respectable soap opera but ratings have gone down.
Other NBC series I'm trying to forget include Are You There Chelsea?, The Playboy Club, Bent, Rock Center, Best Friends Forever.
The Thursday comedies are all in decline because of advancing age.
But on Monday NBC chief Bob Greenblatt gets to unveil his first full schedule. I already know he's picked up a Ryan Murphy sitcom titled The New Normal with Ellen Barkin and the J.J. Abtrams prtoject Revolution.
NBC is in a ratings trough that finds it trending below many basic cable networks.
I'm interested in the strategy of how to get out of that hole. But it may prove impossible.
Earlier, CBC trots out its fall schedule.
I remember when I started covering the TV business in 1970 CBC staged gala parties up at Studio 7 with all its big stars holding court.
Juliette threatened to throw her shoe at me --I'd reported she was aloof and forbade press to her TV set.
One western TV critic was all gaga at finally meeting the Friendly Giant, another just had to sit down with the star of Chez Helene.
All those stars and those series are long gone now.
The era of big parties has gone and so have the hordes of regional TV critics.
Most papers ditched TV critics long ago in a crazy cost cutting move.
These days CBC --and NBC --are both fighting for their corporate lives.

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