TORONTO — Real-life Canadian crimes will fuel a Toronto edition of a “Law & Order” show bound for Citytv, parent company Rogers Sports and Media said as it revealed a TV slate heavy on franchises and proven reality fare.
Hayden Mindell, Senior Vice President, Television, Rogers Sports & Media, said Tuesday that “Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent” was still in very early stages with just a producer and script in hand, but he expected it to follow the same format as the venerable brand with “ripped-from-the-headlines-crimes that have occurred in this fine city.”
The 10-episode order is among the highlights of programming plans revealed for Citytv, OMNI, FX Canada and streamer Citytv Plus.
New Citytv imports this fall include reality spinoff “The Golden Bachelor” from ABC and Jesse L. Martin crime drama “The Irrational” from NBC on Mondays; another NBC drama “Found” with Shanola Hampton on Thursdays; while Dan Harmon's “Krapopolis,” which also airs on FOX, joins Sunday’s animation block.
“Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent” won’t premiere until 2024. Mindell wouldn’t reveal its budget beyond noting it’s “a hell of a lot of money" for a Canadian series.
“It's the most Rogers has ever spent on an original drama,” Mindell said of the per-episode spend.
Weekdays are otherwise filled with imports including ABC's “Dancing with the Stars” on Mondays and “Bachelor in Paradise” on Tuesdays; NBC's “Chicago” franchise – “Med,” “Fire” and “P.D.” – back-to-back on Wednesdays; and NBC's “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: SVU” on Thursdays.
Canadian cop-and-canine procedural ”Hudson & Rex” returns Fridays this fall and a third season of “Canada’s Got Talent” is expected mid-season when it will offer a million-dollar grand prize.
"What I have been hearing is that the level of applicants is like next level," Mindell said of the impact of a bumped-up purse. "A million dollars can motivate a lot of things."
Mindell said an ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America would not affect the rookie seasons of “The Irrational” and “Found,” which are both in the can.
But he said it could disrupt Citytv’s simulcast “Chicago” block on Wednesdays and “Law & Order” block on Thursdays if those shows run out of scripts.
"We have programs ready to air in the event that does occur," he said, for example noting Thursday’s “Hell's Kitchen,” which also airs on FOX, would move from 7 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET and then air an ABC game show at 9 p.m. ET.
“We're not there yet. But we have a fully simulcast backup plan in the event that the strike does disrupt some of our shows…. The good thing is we have 'The Bachelor,' we have 'Dancing' and you know, most of our schedule will remain intact either way."
The impact of a potential strike by the union representing U.S. performers is less certain, he said.
SAG-AFTRA voted late Monday to approve strike action if upcoming talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers sour. Negotiations were to begin Wednesday.
While the union represents U.S. performers, Mindell said it was not clear whether job action would impact Canadian productions that shoot in Canada and may have SAG-AFTRA members, such as "Canada's Got Talent."
“I've just literally just had the conversation. I don't know for sure yet,” Mindell said of the series, where judges include cross-border stars Howie Mandel and Lilly Singh.
Shows missing from the lineup include the comedy “Wong & Winchester,” which debuted earlier this year and Mindell said failed to reach a ratings benchmark, and “Bachelor In Paradise Canada,” which he confirmed won't return in 2024.
The popular summer “Bachelor” spinoff, currently airing its latest Canadian edition on Citytv, was derailed by the departure of executive producer Claire Freeland for work on the U.S. "Bachelor," said Mindell. Under usual circumstances, the 2024 edition would begin filming next month.
“We'd love to have it back and we're still trying to work with them to bring it back but nobody understood the format as well as Claire, and she's now at Warner Bros," said Mindell.
Over on FX Canada, the fall schedule includes “American Horror Story: Delicate,” the return of “Fargo,” “The Old Man” and “Welcome to Wrexham,” while the limited series “Justified: City Primeval” debuts July 18 and "What We Do in the Shadows" returns July 13.
The fall lineup for Citytv Plus — available by subscription through Prime Video — includes reality dating series “FBoy Island,” its sister-spinoff series “FGirl Island” and a new season of “Poker Face,” starring Natasha Lyonne.
Rogers Sports & Media president Colette Watson was set to detail the schedule for media and advertisers at a virtual event Tuesday afternoon.
In a press release, she touted nightly blocks rooted in franchises and Saturday mainstay “Hockey Night in Canada.”
Citytv’s summer lineup includes reality series "Claim to Fame,” followed by Charity Lawson’s season of “The Bachelorette” on June 26, game show “Press Your Luck” returning June 29, and “Celebrity Family Feud” with Steve Harvey back on July 9.
Over on OMNI Television, the original comedy “Our Big Punjabi Family,” the five-part documentary series “Katiba Banat: Sisters in Arms” and a second season of the half-hour Filipino sketch comedy “Abroad” all premiere Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2023.
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press