Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Where Are The Canadian TV Talk Shows?

So there I was the other day lunching with two of the most powerful Canadian TV producers in the business.
And as usual these days the talk started with an assessment of the departure of Jon Stewart whose presence late nights redefined the American talk TV landscape.
Here are snippets of what was said:
Me: "I can never understand why Canadian TV has no late night talk shows at all.
"A few years back at the CTV Upfronts Jon Stewart appeared on the screen live from his New York headquarters and began ribbing his hosts about the lack of Canadian shows on their primarily imported schedules! Boy did those executives visibly wince!"
Producer 1: "The only successful Canadian talk show when I was at CBC was Peter Gzowski. And he was continually trounced by the critics. But you know the longer he was on the better he got. Finally near the end he said what-the-hell and came out as battered and rumpled as he'd always been on radio. And that really worked.
Later Comedy had Mike Bullard and the budget was so low he didn't have a cordless mike so he couldn't walk into the audience."
Producer 2:"You see that's why it has always been cheaper to import shows than make our own. And after midnight there are no Canadian content regulations anyway."
Me:"But the fall TV lineups of CTV, Rogers, Shaw have no Canadian scripted shows at all. The claim is Canadian shows would get mowed down in the early on in the new season."
Producer 1: "I can't sell any series that is openly Canadian. Nobody wants it. Canadian TV movies have disappeared. CBC started a series on the Fathers of Confederation and it sank like a stone. It was cancelled after one episode."
Producer 2: "I watch Saving Hope and love it. It's made here with Canadian talent but it might be situated in any America city. I liked Rookie Blue, too, hardly 'must see TV' but still very professional."
Me: "CBC told me the only buyer for its TV movie on Don Cherry was Finnish TV--the fact is the rest of the world does not find us fascinating."
Producer 1: "Canadian TV is disappearing. The more channels we have the less Canadian TV there is."
Producer 2: "Jon Stewart's freedom to really go after politicians would not be allowed up here. Look at all Chretien and Harper did and TV criticism on CTV and CBC news was very muted."
Me: "But isn't American politics more exciting?"
Producer 1: "The love affair of Americans for all things American is very apparent on these shows. How often does Anderson Cooper cover something in Canada? Almost never."
Me; "Who's picking up the check?"
Producer 1: "I can. My new series is going into production --filmed here, of course, but set in the U.S."