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June 12, 2013

Rogers bets on Canuck series, comedy for fall


Danielle Ng See Quan / Playback

Rogers Media is launching seven original Canadian series on its primetime fall programming slate.

That includes new unscripted series Meet the Family — it joins previously announced multi-cam comedy Package Deal and a second season of sperm-donor sitcom Seed — which has a 13-episode season, announced Tuesday. New original series Mother Up!, starring Eva Longoria, also joins City’s mid-season slate in winter 2014.

And OLN will play host to new unscripted series The Project: Guatemala, along with Storage Wars Canada and returning series The Liquidator.

“Our strategy for the past two years has been to grow our original Canadian programming. We have invested in great Canadian series, both scripted and non-scripted, on City and OLN, and it has resulted in our strongest and most robust Canadian lineup ever for the networks,” said Rogers Media president of broadcast Scott Moore in a statement.

Rogers also announced a three-year deal for exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to The Grammy Awards on City, promising an “all-access pass” in multiplatform coverage of the event.

The slate of Canadian content, new comedies and tentpole events like The Grammys points to City expanding its audience reach to lure younger and more diverse audiences. To that end Rogers said Tuesday that all of its original series will have a strong digital presence, with live chats, blogs and exclusive web content.

Moore added in a statement that the Grammys complement the “young and dynamic programming lineup.”

“City is committed to developing, creating and airing compelling content that resonates specifically with our younger-skewing and urban-oriented audiences,” said Rogers’ director of original programming Claire Freeland in her own statement.


Meet the Family, produced by Winnipeg- and Toronto-based Frantic Films, is based on the U.K. series Meet the Parents. Each episode of the one-hour reality series follows one couple trying to survive the challenge of meeting one of the partner’s families.

The catch is that the so-called family is an outrageous fake, with each member trying to make the encounter as uncomfortable as possible, with hidden cameras capturing every moment. If the set-up partner endures, the couple can win a luxury holiday.

The series, to air Sundays at 8:30 p.m., is exec produced by Jamie Brown.

Package Deal, previously slated to debut this summer, is joining the City fall comedy block on Mondays at 8:30 p.m., following How I Met Your Mother’s lead at 8 p.m. The series stars Canuck actors Randal Edwards, Julia Voth, Jay Malone and Harland Williams, and is exec produced by Andrew Orenstein, Tim Gamble and Michael Shepard.

Half-hour animated comedy Mother Up! joins the schedule mid-season. Produced by Breakthrough Entertainment and Bardel Entertainment in association with Mass Animation and show-run by Greg Lawrence, the series is about a disgraced big-city music exec-turned-suburban-supermom, who’s actually not a very good parent. Eva Longoria, who also exec produces, stars in the series, along with Canadian cast Jesse Camacho, Gabrielle Miller, Cle Bennett, Helen Taylor, Rebecca Husain and Scott McCord.

On OLN, Buck Productions’ one-hour reality competition series The Project: Guatemala follows adventurer Ray Zahab taking nine privileged young adults on a trip to help a local charity organization build a structure for The Project Somos Children’s Village. The trick? The kids think they’re going to an exotic location for a “reality adventure.”

The new stateside shows

Rogers is also banking on the success of its existing U.S. comedies, like How I Met Your Mother, Two Broke Girls, New Girl, Modern Family, The Mindy Project, Parks and Recreation, Raising Hope and The Middle, and bolstering the slate with five other stateside comedy pick-ups for fall.

New to the lineup are Chuck Lorre comedy Mom (CBS) starring Anna Faris; live-action multi-cam comedy Dads (Fox) from Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild (of Ted and Family Guy); Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox) from Parks and Recreation writers/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur; Rebel Wilson-starring Super Fun Night (ABC); single-cam, half-hour comedy The Crazy Ones (CBS), set in the advertising world and starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar; Enlisted (Fox), about three brothers getting reacquainted on a small Florida Army base; and Back in the Game (ABC), about a recently divorced single mother who, well, gets back in the game…of baseball. After moving in with her estranged father (also a former baseball player), she starts coaching her son’s little league team and is sucked back in to the sports world.

And the mid-season schedule will see new comedy Us & Them joining Mike and Molly, Suburgatory and Community.

City will also air Modern Family in strip on weeknights from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., as an early lead-in to its new primetime lineup.

In drama, check out ABC’s fall schedule for essentially all of City’s new series. The six new shows on the roster are Lucky 7 (ABC), exec produced by Steven Spielberg, Once Upon a Time spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC) and Betrayal (ABC) for fall, with Tricia Helfer-starring Killer Women (ABC), Crisis (NBC) and sci-fi fantasy series Resurrection (ABC, with Brad Pitt on board as a co-producer) for mid-season. City also snagged Nashville for fall, which in its first season aired on CTV. Those series join returning shows Revolution, Scandal, Revenge and The Carrie Diaries.

City will also broadcast a two-week run of new contest series The Million Second Quiz, a 24-hour series that will have a customized Canadian app and website for viewers to play along. Undercover Boss creator Stephen Lambert is an exec producer, along with Eli Holzman (Project Runway) and David Hurwitz (Fear Factor).

Over at OMNI, start the fist-pumping – it’s Arseniooooo! The specialty channel is getting in on the late-night action with The Arsenio Hall Show weeknights at 10 p.m., starting Sept. 9. Also returning to the channel are Rules of Engagement, The Biggest Loser and The Late Show with Craig Ferguson, while a Canadian version of the documentary series format Bollywood Star will premiere mid-season.

Where it fits

So how do the original Canadian series and the new pick-ups figure into the programming matrix?

Mondays and Tuesdays are solid comedy blocks.

The final season of How I Met Your Mother kicks off the two-hour block Mondays at 8 p.m., followed by Package Deal, 2 Broke Girls, Mom and then The Project: Guatemala at 10 p.m.

Dads kicks off Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., followed by Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl and The Mindy Project, and ending with drama at 10 p.m. with Lucky 7.

Wednesday and Thursday mix comedy and drama.

Revolution takes a new timeslot Wednesdays at 8 p.m., followed by Modern Family at 9 p.m., then Super Fun Night, which leads to the place where all super fun nights end — the stage — with Nashville at 10 p.m.

The quirky lineup on Thursday starts with Once Upon a Time in Wonderland at 8 p.m., followed by The Crazy Ones, Parks and Recreation, and Scandal at 10 p.m.

Fridays is “family night,” with The Carrie Diaries and Raising Hope in new timeslots at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively, followed by Enlisted and back-to-back eps of The Liquidator.

Sundays are for high-stakes drama, with Storage Wars Canada at 8 p.m., Meet the Family, Revenge and then Betrayal at 10 p.m.