CTV'S BETTING BIG ON DEGRASSI BONANZA


Degrassi : The Next Generation – Press

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CTV’S BETTING BIG
ON DEGRASSI BONANZA
ANTONIA ZERBISIAS

Thursday,
June 7, 2001

TELEVISION
Usually when
networks hold their Fall Launch events, it’s the new that’s
news.

But yesterday, at CTV’s 2000-1 season unveiling, the
old was news.

First, hold on to your Joey fedora, because the
Degrassi kids are coming back.

Sure, Joey (Pat Mastroianni) no longer has hair, Snake
(Stefan Brogren) now looks like he could be the principal
while Caitlin (Stacie Mistysyyn) and Spike (Amanda Stepto) are
old enough to play Degrassi mothers, but that doesn’t mean
this ground-breaking international hit of the 1980s can’t win
over a new generation.

In fact, CTV is betting big on Degrassi: The Next
Generation, starting with a reunion special in October that
will re-introduce fans to Spike’s daughter Emma (Miriam
McDonald), now 12 and headed for Degrassi Community School.
That will be followed by a 13-part series to air Sundays at 7,
accompanied by Degrassi.TV, a documentary showcase aimed at
teens.

To top off this Degrassi bonanza, a web site
(http://www.degrassi.tv) will turn viewers into “view-sers.”
Not surprising, now that CTV is part of Bell Globemedia, which
boasts Internet assets Sympatico /Lycos.

“CTV was the only network able to see this as a total
package,” said producer/creator Linda Schuyler, explaining
why Degrassi didn’t return home to CBC.

Yesterday, reporters met the new cast members who all
looked, well, 12 years old. Asked if she watched the original
series, McDonald said no, “Because I wasn’t born.”

Old/new news bit No. 2 is YES! Yes, CTV has picked up
season two of HBO’s mob hit The Sopranos. Yes, it will air,
uncut and uncensored, Sundays at 10 starting in September. And
yes, for those who missed season one, repeats will begin in
July. All of which is unthinkable for U.S. programmers who
can’t imagine such violence, sex and profanity airing in
network primetime.

“It makes me think twice about Canadians,” Michael
Imperioli, who plays Tony Soprano’s hot-headed nephew
Christopher, said yesterday.

It was only last month that the industry’s own
watchdog, the Broadcast Standards Council, announced its
decision that, despite having received 138 complaints about
the series’ “filth” and portrayal of Italians, CTV only
violated violence codes by not airing sufficient viewer
advisories.

“The nightmare of having an unfavourable decision…
did not happen,” said CTV president Trina McQueen.

Yesterday was a long news day for CTV, which kicked off
its event at 7:30 a.m., because Bell Globemedia chief Ivan
Fecan was getting an honourary doctorate at Ryerson
Polytechnic U. at 9:30 a.m.

Network execs talked up their seven digital specialty
channels launching this fall, as well as their slates for
their established services.

Among the many announcements:

Just when U.S. networks are abandoning the form, CTV
has nine new Canadian made-for-TV movies, many with plots
ripped from the headlines. They include AKA: The Albert Walker
Story, about the con artist and murderer, and The
Investigation, about serial killer Clifford Olson.

Twelve new documentaries will hit the air, including
Walkerton, about the E. Coli tragedy.

Returning Canadian dramas include Cold Squad, The
Associates and Mysterious Ways.

Five new overseas bureaus will be opened. Other news
news includes the revival of the talk show Question Period and
the introduction of Right To Reply, a forum for viewer
complaints and questions.

As for CTV’s specialty channels, Comedy is dropping
Politically Incorrect but is picking up a new run of
Absolutely Fabulous. Back are The Gavin Crawford Show and The
Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Discovery has all its extreme weather and dinosaur
theme weeks plus BattleBots and the three-hour documentary
Jesus: The Complete Story.

New to the analogue dial, talktv will bring back that
daily six-hour yakathon, the chatroom, this time with Ben
Mulroney, son of Brian, as a full-time co-host.

Finally, OLN (Outdoor Life Network) has Drifters: The
Water Wars, an eco-challenge-survivor-treasure hunt along
Ontario’s Trent Severn waterway, plus Tan Lines, a tour of
Canada’s most famous and infamous beaches.

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