U.S. shows making comeback at CBC

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TORONTO -- The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is looking to boost ratings by using American sitcoms and game shows as lead-ins for its primetime fare, with "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" leading the way.

Kirstine Layfield, the pubcaster's executive director of network programming, said that "Jeopardy" will simulcast at 7:30 p.m., just prior to it's primetime offerings, while "Wheel of Fortune" will air at 5:30 p.m. nightly, just right before local CBC newscasts.

"Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" will be available to the CBC after rival private network CTV takes both shows off its schedule next fall. Currently, "Jeopardy" does not air in Vancouver and Montreal on CTV, and "Wheel of Fortune" only airs on A-Channel in Ontario, on ASN and on CTV Manitoba and CTV Saskatchewan.

In January, the CBC also will begin to air daily re-runs of "Frasier" at 4 p.m., "The Simpsons" at 5 p.m. and "Arrested Development at 5:30 p.m.

The CBC also will continue to air "The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sundays at 6 p.m., and strip the popular British soap "Coronation Street" nightly at 7 p.m.

The decision to air the popular U.S. sitcoms and game shows, which currently air on rival private network CTV, marks a return to the past for the CBC.

During the 1990s, the pubcasters virtually abandoned all U.S. series on its schedule to set the public broadcaster apart from the U.S. network series that private broadcasters feature in primetime here.

But in recent years, U.S. shows have returned to the CBC schedule to win back advertisers.

The CBC also has added "The Martha Stewart Show" to its daytime schedule after rival broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications decided not to renew the talker.

The public broadcaster also plans to launch six new homegrown series for the winter TV season, leading off with "The Border," a drama about elite Canadian immigration agents protecting the border with the U.S. against encroachments like terrorism and asylum seekers.

Canada-U.S. tensions also figure in the homegrown miniseries "The Trojan Horse," a political thriller that stars Greta Scacchi and Tom Skerrit and portrays a former Canadian prime minister plotting revenge as Canadians vote for union with the U.S.

Also in the winter pipeline is "MVP," a drama about the "sexy and scandalous" lives of professional hockey players, modeled on the BBC's "Footballer Wives."

Other CBC projects schedule to air include "jPod," a drama about techo-geeks based on the Douglas Coupland novel, and "Sophie," an English-language version of the French-language sitcom "Les hauts et les bas de Sophie Paquin," which aired previously in Quebec.
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