Small Screen: City TV’s lineup features Fubar, crime drama

TORONTO — A TV series based on the Canadian cult-hit mockumentary Fubar and a drama about Montreal mob boss Vito Rizzuto are among the homegrown shows headed to City next season.

Rogers Media unveiled City’s 2017/18 prime-time schedule on Tuesday and it includes Fubar: The Age of the Computer.

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The series from Rogers Media and Vice Studio Canada reunites director Michael Dowse and stars David Lawrence and Paul Spence in their original roles as headbangers Terry and Dean. The new show sees them fleeing the wildfires in Fort McMurray and exploring the Internet for the first time.

In the six-part City original limited series Bad Blood, Anthony LaPaglia, Kim Coates, Paul Sorvino and Enrico Colantoni star in a story based on the book Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War by Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards.

City describes it as “a Shakespearean-level revenge tale” that follows Rizzuto’s crumbling empire after he leaves prison.

“It’s like a suspense family drama like The Godfather was, but it was real events with real people,” said Colette Watson, senior vice-president of TV and broadcast operations at Rogers.
City has added a total of 12 new titles to its roster, including five comedies, four dramas and three Canadian titles.

Rogers executives were particularly excited about The Orville, a Star Trek spoof created by Seth MacFarlane and directed by Jon Favreau.

Set 400 years in the future, it also stars MacFarlane as the new captain of a spaceship in a universe where creatures include a blob voiced by Quebec native Norm Macdonald.

“It has a really odd and unique feel to it that’s definitely original in the television landscape,” said Hayden Mindell, vice-president of television programming and content at Rogers.

In Ghosted, Craig Robinson and Adam Scott play bumbling paranormal investigators. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell produces LA to Vegas, starring Dylan McDermott as a pilot for an airline that services Sin City.

The schedule is more of a balance of genres than last season, when City veered from its usual comedy-heavy lineup in a bid for a more wide-ranging audience.

Other homegrown offerings in the upcoming season include the Louis XIV drama Versailles.

While the medical thriller The Resident isn’t Canadian, it does star Canucks Emily VanCamp and Bruce Greenwood.

“I think it’s one of the best medical dramas I’ve seen in a long time,” said Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media. “We’ve got really high hopes on that one.”

Established series joining City include the 2016 Minnie Driver comedy Speechless and Dancing with the Stars, which is moving over from CTV. City has also acquired The Blacklist.

The station also plans to present two live musical events — one based on the beloved film A Christmas Story and another based on the stage smash Rent.

Returning series include the Canadian show Nirvanna The Band The Show as well as The Bachelor franchise, Black-ish, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy, Lethal Weapon, Modern Family and New Girl.

On Monday, Rogers Media announced it’s expanding its local newscast CityNews format to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal. Local versions of the Toronto mainstay will start airing in Edmonton and Winnipeg on Sept. 4. The newscasts head to Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary in winter 2018.

“We’ve got to find a way to really combat the global players, the Netflixes and the Amazon Primes of the world, and the way to do that is by content ownership,” said Brace.

“The great thing about news is that we own the content, No. 1. (and) No. 2, it’s fiercely local, which means we’re not going to be in direct competition with the global players, so that’s an opportunity.”

Rogers also boasted about high ratings for Sportsnet, saying in a release that the sports network was the top-rated specialty channel for a third year in a row.

Rogers still has two more years left on its contract with the CBC to air Hockey Night in Canada on the public broadcaster on Saturday nights and is negotiating on what happens after.

“We’re in conversation with them,” said Brace. “It’s been a tremendous relationship and I think if there’s a way we can do it, we want to.”

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