Bell Media bets on Bacon, Sheen, Panettiere
Published Thursday, May 31, 2012 5:06PM EDT
TORONTO - Kevin Bacon's gritty FBI drama, Charlie Sheen's return to television, Hayden Panettiere's country music soap and a final season of "Flashpoint" anchor CTV and CTV Two's upcoming lineups.
Bell Media says it's bolstering its twin TV schedules with a mix of weighty dramas and light laughers, although much of the new material won't be seen until 2013.
Just four programs -- amounting to 2.5 hours of new material -- are being added to CTV's fall schedule, while sister station CTV Two is getting three new dramas.
"We just simply didn't have a lot of holes in our schedule that we had to fill," CTV programming president Phil King said Thursday, when he outlined fall and winter plans with a daylong promotional event.
"But having said that, we don't rest on our laurels."
CTV's additions include three comedies: "Anger Management," in which Sheen plays an unconventional therapist; "The New Normal," about two gay men who enlist a surrogate baby mama; and "The Neighbors," with Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito as a couple who move to a gated community where aliens live in disguise.
The channel's sole new drama is "The Mob Doctor," with Jordana Spiro as a young surgeon split between her promising medical career and a lifelong debt to Chicago's Southside mob.
CTV Two's new dramas include: "Nashville," with Connie Britton as a country star struggling to maintain her status against an ambitious newcomer played by Panettiere; "Arrow," with Canadian Stephen Amell as a vigilante superhero known by day as billionaire industrialist Oliver Queen; and "Emily Owens, M.D.," about a young surgical intern who learns that working in a hospital is a little too much like high school.
"Smash" star Megan Hilty, "The Big Bang Theory" co-star Kunal Nayyar, "Once Upon A Time"'s Lana Parrilla and "Nashville"'s Panettiere were among the stars who held court with reporters before meeting with ad buyers at a splashy evening reception.
Former "Heroes" star Panettiere said she leapt at the chance to take on the sudsy "Nashville," which casts her as a cut-throat singer with a troubled upbringing.
"This show is such a rarity, you don't get shows like this that come around very often," said Panettiere, looking polished in a tight white minidress with her blond hair pulled back in a tight bun.
Although she says he enjoyed playing a cheerleader with incredible healing powers on her breakout series "Heroes," Panettiere admitted she was ready to put that chapter behind her. She had a simple answer ready when asked if she missed starring on a supernatural series.
"Super powers come with CGI and they come with prosthetics, so, right at the moment, no," Panettiere said laughing.
Earlier this week, Citytv announced a fall and winter schedule that bet heavily on comedies while Global said it would lean on star-packed primetime dramas.
King took a veiled swipe at their strategies in promoting his own lineup.
"We have a great mix of comedy, drama and reality," King said.
"One of our competitors seems to want to be the comedy network and the other wants to be a drama network. We've always maintained we want to be a balance of all three types of programming. Which I think we are. And we've got some great new shows to add to it."
CTV is the market leader with a deep roster of performers including "The Big Bang Theory" and "Grey's Anatomy."
King says they'll be back this fall, along with "CSI," "American Idol," "Dancing With the Stars," "Castle," "Blue Bloods," "The X Factor," "Once Upon A Time," "Grimm" and "Whitney."
A final season of "Flashpoint" will get a coveted 10 p.m. slot on Thursdays, where it will be up against Global's buzzy Sherlock Holmes drama "Elementary" and Citytv's "Scandal."
Star Hugh Dillon promised an "exceptional" batch of final episodes while executive producer Bill Mustos promised a fitting end to the homegrown hit.
"We have an incredible two-hour finale coming out that is bigger and bolder than we've ever done before," Mustos said at a news conference.
He added that deciding to wrap the Toronto-set procedural was not an easy one, but the right thing to do.
"It's something that we agonized about for a couple of months. Yes, it's true that CTV would have liked the show to go on for another year (but) it's really important for a TV show to go out on a high point," he said.
Six new series will rev up in mid-season:
- the psychological thriller "The Following," with Bacon as an FBI agent chasing a network of serial killers;
- the Canadian drama "Motive," about a female Vancouver homicide detective who must piece together the hows and whys of horrific cases;
- "Zero Hour" with Anthony Edwards as a man who must unlock a centuries-old conspiracy to rescue his kidnapped wife;
- the Jekyll-and-Hyde drama "Do No Harm," with Steven Pasquale as a charming neurosurgeon battling a borderline sociopathic personality;
- the cop-drama "Golden Boy," which charts the rapid ascent of an ambitious NYC officer played by Theo James;
- and "The Family Tools," a comedy about a habitual screw-up, played by Kyle Bornheimer, who is forced to take over the family handyman business.