CTV ready to render 'Verdict'


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CTV will next week launch "The Verdict," a homegrown legal talk show, just as deposed Canadian media baron Conrad Black goes on trial on criminal fraud, racketeering and corruption charges in a Chicago courtroom.

Paula Todd, a former lawyer-turned-broadcaster, will anchor "The Verdict" on CTV Newsnet, CTV's headline news channel.

Todd joined CTV in February after working at rival broadcaster TVOntario, where she hosted "Person to Person" and "Studio 2."

Modelled on the U.S. legal eagle shows hosted by Greta Van Susteren and Nancy Grace, "The Verdict" will bow just as jury selection begins to try Black and former business associates for diverting $83 million from the former Hollinger International newspaper group for his personal use.

The eight-count indictment against Black was laid two years ago by Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. On Tuesday, Fitzgerald secured convictions for perjury and obstructing justice against Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

CTV executives were tight-lipped Wednesday about the programming format for "The Verdict." But Black's high-profile white collar crime trial is expected to last about three months, providing a lengthy launch pad for the homegrown talk show.

CTV also is planning to re-air "Shades of Black," a TV movie about Conrad Black and wife Barbara Ameil that stars Albert Schultz and Lara Flynn Boyle in the title roles.

According to a CTV source, "The Verdict" will launch Wednesday, March 14, at 9 p.m., with Paula Todd in Chicago to cover the start of the Black trial.