Screenings no laffing matter for Canucks

Lack of comedies, breakout hits causes disappointment

MONTREAL — Canuck buyers, who are deep into screening the new crop of Hollywood shows, say they have yet to get excited about any one series, and many in the Canadian contingent are unhappy there are so few sitcoms on offer this week in L.A.

“I think there’s a disappointment about the number of comedies,” said CTV programming prexy Susanne Boyce. “People are writing that the sitcom is dead, but I believe people just haven’t been writing good sitcoms. There are strong dramas and a lot of reality.”

Boyce said the shows generating buzz include “CSI: NY,” which is likely to go to CTV, since it has the two other “CSI” franchises; and “Joey,” which “needs work,” per Boyce, who added that it is likely to go to Global given its long ties to “Friends.”

Boyce said other buzz items include “Athens” and “The Contender.”

CTV will not be buying as much as usual this week because it has a lot of returning hits, Boyce said.

“We have very little to buy; basically it’s just refreshing the schedule,” she said.

Foreign grumblings

Ellen Baine, VP of programming at Canuck broadcaster Chum, said foreign buyers are grumbling that there is nothing resembling a breakout hit on display at the Screenings. Baine refused to pin the blame on the lack of hot dramas or sitcoms on the proliferation of reality shows.

“I don’t think it has to do with reality,” Baine said. “It always boils down to the writing. If it doesn’t have good writing, it doesn’t get buzz.”

The dearth of sitcoms is a non-issue for Chum because the company does not have a single first-run sitcom on any of its channels.

Chum is keen to snare family-focused dramas, like “Everwood” and “7th Heaven,” which have both been strong performers for its New Net channels.

Baine noted that UPN has a number of interesting new series, singling out the show “Veronica Mars.”

Chum is screening with the execs from Calgary-based Craig Media for the first time in a couple of years.

Chum recently inked a deal to buy Craig, though the sale has yet to be approved by regulators.

Baine from Chum said it’s been a plus to screen with the folks from Craig because she likes being able to discuss the shows with a wider group of programmers. But Chum and Craig continue to buy separately.

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