Homegrown series top CBC fall slate


Eschewing new U.S. series, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Tuesday kicked off the Canadian upfront presentations by unveiling nine homegrown series for the fall.

Canada's public broadcaster said its upcoming season will include the Jonathan Rhys Meyers starrer "The Tudors," an Irish-Canadian miniseries co- production also for Showtime as well as the Canadian-made reality series "No Opportunity Wasted," hosted by Phil Keoghan.

Other fall highlights for the CBC include the homegrown family drama "Heartland"; the miniseries "St. Urbain's Horseman," based on the classic Mordechai Richler novel; and "Triple Sensation," a performance-themed reality series produced by Garth Drabinsky. Drabinsky faces an upcoming criminal trial in Canada for his role in the downfall of 1990s live theater producer Livent Inc.

The CBC also has scheduled documentary series "The Nature of Things — Geologic Journey" and is bringing breakout hit "Little Mosque on the Prairie" back for a second season of 20 episodes.

Other returning series include Chris Haddock's crime drama "Intelligence" and the reality series "Dragons' Den."

Kirstine Layfield, CBC executive director of network programming, said the public broadcaster's fall offerings will inevitably duke it out for viewers with the new and returning U.S. series that dominate the primetime schedules of rival private Canadian networks.

"It's (American fare) coming in over the border. So I have to be strategic about programming Canadian programming against them," Layfield said.

The CBC in recent years has largely jettisoned American series and focused on homegrown shows in a bid to distinguish itself from private sector rivals.

The Canadian network this year had to abandon plans to air a Canadian version of ABC's "The One: Making a Music Star" after the U.S. reality show was canceled soon after its premiere.

This year's CBC upfront presentation included appearances by a host of CBC talent, including comics Rick Mercer and Jessica Holmes, "Intelligence" lead Klea Scott and "Little Mosque" castmembers including Carlo Rota and Sitara Hewitt.

Rival Canadian broadcaster Chum will make its annual pitch to domestic advertisers Thursday, followed by CTV on Monday and CanWest MediaWorks on June 6.

Canadian broadcasters typically hold their upfront presentations immediately after the Los Angeles Screenings because, with the exception of the CBC, their primetime schedules virtually mirror those of the U.S. networks to the south.