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Big Brother Canada, and one LL of a guy at Shaw upfront

- May 30th, 2012

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LL Cool J always is the coolest guy in the room. I often am in the top 20, depending upon the size of the venue.

Regardless, LL always has great, thoughtful lines ready and waiting. For example, at the Shaw Media upfront event in Toronto yesterday, he was asked by someone if he had any messages for the youth of today.

“Dreams don’t have deadlines, but you have to get started,” LL said. “Procrastination is the teenager’s greatest enemy.”

How come I never say stuff like that?

LL – who is one of the stars of NCIS: Los Angeles, which airs on Global, hence the reason for his presence – had another gem when he said, “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.”

Can’t even remember what he was talking about, but the man can coin a phrase.

Then again, he could have been talking about the situation at Shaw Media, which increasingly sees its specialty channels – Showcase, History, HGTV, Slice, Food Network, and the just-announced Lifetime and History 2, among others – driving its TV business. The story I wrote about this phenomenon for Sun Media/QMI Agency is here.

Shaw announced late in the day Wednesday that it is bringing a Canadian version of Big Brother – cleverly titled Big Brother Canada – to Slice early in 2013. Shaw executives quickly denied rumours that Big Brother Canada actually is a documentary about the Harper government.

Amid this flurry of “specialty education,” Global is still around. Its two biggest U.S. acquisitions for the fall are the Sherlock Holmes-ish Elementary, with Jonny Lee Miller, and the 1960s-set Vegas, with Dennis Quaid.

Re: Elementary. Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson? Really? Isn’t that like casting William Shatner as Catwoman?

Re: Vegas. Many have tried, few have succeeded. Will this be another Mad Men or another Pan Am?

Anyway, the funniest moment for me at the Shaw event came when I was interviewing Ricki Lake, who is returning to TV with a new talk show this fall. She was in the middle of an answer when she suddenly jolted, looked past me and over my shoulder, and finally said, “Oh, sorry, for a minute there I really thought that was Anderson Cooper.”

Turned out it was Shaw PR boss Chris McDowall.

Hey, the ladies want what the ladies want.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

 

 

 

Katie Couric’s got legs, and she knows how to use them

- May 29th, 2012

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Nice legs, Katie Couric.

Of course, Rogers/Citytv is hoping it’s Couric’s new syndicated talk show that has legs when it debuts this fall.

Couric was in Toronto on Tuesday for the Rogers upfront presentation. Traditionally these things have both media components and a presentation for advertisers. The news story I wrote for Sun Media/QMI Agency is here.

Couric admitted that she wouldn’t have been interested in joining the afternoon talk-show fray had Oprah Winfrey not left the building, so to speak. Couric said competing with Oprah would have been “too daunting.”

As for all the talk shows that have entered the competition post-Oprah, Couric said a “Darwinian process” would take care of that over the next few years.  Sounds scary. And why do I feel I’m going to end up on the wrong side of that as the world is overrun by insects?

Speaking of, that might please Dominic Monaghan just fine. The Lord of the Rings and Lost alumnus has a new nature show called Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, coming to OLN, in which he travels the world to examine insects and snakes and other animals, too.

Monaghan is from Manchester, and is a Manchester United fan. He still was hurting about what happened on the final day of the English Premier League schedule. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that watching Manchester City win the title was one of the greatest moments of my life watching sports. Seriously, it was. Good thing I didn’t mention that – Monaghan is a small but feisty former Hobbit who might have ripped my wee head off.

Others on hand for the Rogers event included Max Greenfield, who seems to be a consummate performer. He said he realizes that as the breakout character (Schmidt) on New Girl, he is well aware that his professional life may never be as good as it is at this exact moment. Good on him for having that perspective.

Let’s see, what else … oh yeah, the host of The Bachelor Canada, Tyler Harcott, is, like, really tall.

And good on Rogers for announcing two new Canadian sitcoms – Seed, a personal favourite of Rogers broadcast prez Scott Moore, and Package Deal, a personal favourite of Rogers executive VP Malcolm Dunlop – on its upfront day. You know what they say, “Canadian shows on upfront day keep the protesters away.” Actually, no one says that. But maybe we can start a trend.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

 

 

 

Costner says overseas journey for Hatfields and McCoys was bittersweet

- May 28th, 2012

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The new three-part mini-series Hatfields & McCoys debuts Monday night on History Television. It stars Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the rival patriarchs of the infamous feuding families. The column I wrote about it for Sun Media/QMI Agency is here.

Ironically, this story of bloody backwoods bickering was shot nowhere near its real-life origins along the West Virginia-Kentucky border.

“This quintessential American story was shot in Romania,” Costner said.

“Nobody wanted that to happen, although we were glad Romania received us. But the resources that were behind this movie, while they were significant, in no way measure up to the kind of money you see thrown at the HBOs. So our story had to be the star of our movie, because we didn’t have all the bells and whistles.”

Luckily, parts of Romania actually are a good match, in terms of geography.

“It did look like the mountains (of West Virginia-Kentucky),” Costner said. “We wouldn’t have gone there (otherwise). It was too far to go to not have any similarities. That was a given.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv