Citytv is bringing what it calls “weirdly wonderful characters” to its upcoming schedule, with two new Canadian shows and the return of homegrown cop-canine drama Hudson & Rex.
The Canadian broadcaster’s 2019/2020 original programming slate announced Thursday includes the comic thriller Dead Still, a co-production with Ireland starring Michael Smiley as an 1880s crime photographer.
Also new is the sci-fi drama and South Africa co-production Vagrant Queen, a live-action adaptation of the graphic novel, with an all-female team of writers and directors. Adriyan Rae stars as an intergalactic queen who returns to her former kingdom in search of the mother she previously thought was dead.
Greenlighted for season 2 is Hudson & Rex, Citytv’s original Canadian scripted series starring John Reardon as a detective who works with his German Shepherd partner in St. John’s. Citytv says the show is its highest-rated original scripted series since 2015.
Six new Canadian shows are also in development for Citytv, but not all may end up making it to air, said Rogers Media executives.
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The newly announced titles are in addition to the American projects Citytv has picked up. They include the Mindy Kaling-produced Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Jimmy Smits-starring legal drama Bluff City Law, and ensemble comedy Perfect Harmony featuring Bradley Whitford.
Citytv also has NBC’s popular Chicago franchise of shows and returning series including Black-ish, The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Dancing with the Stars, and The Simpsons.
The network aimed to broaden viewership with dramas while also building its slate of comedies and shows that will appeal to its core audience, which skews more female and is younger compared to its competitors, said executives.
“It’s a stronger, more bold lineup than we’ve probably ever had before,” Hayden Mindell, vice-president of TV programming and content at Rogers Media, said in an interview.
Rogers Media is the second Canadian broadcaster to announce its full 2019/2020 fall/winter slate after CBC did so on Wednesday. Corus Entertainment and Bell Media are set to do so next week.
Every spring broadcasters typically champion their lineups in a splashy presentation called an “upfront,” where advertisers and members of the media can see on-air talent.
But Rogers recently announced it had made the “fiscally responsible” decision not to hold an upfront this year.
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Instead, it hosted a small breakfast session with members of the media on Thursday and plans to start holding meetings with agencies starting next week.
“When we talked about it, we said, ‘It’s a lot of money to spend, it’s money we could potentially put on the screen, redirect that money,’” said Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media.
“We actually asked the agencies ahead of time, ‘What’s your view on that?’ and they said, ‘Not a problem at all.’ They’re totally comfortable. Now we’ll see how that plays out. But I’m not anticipating that there will be any great criticism, if any criticism at all.
“In fact they may say it’s actually a better way to do it, because they get to interact with us personally, ask questions they want, which they wouldn’t be able to do at an upfront presentation.”