TORONTO - Global is touting big comebacks in its fall and winter lineup, as stars Michael J. Fox, James Spader, Blair Underwood and Sean Hayes return to the small screen with new ventures.
Shaw Media — which runs Global as well as a raft of specialty channels including History, Showcase and Slice — announced 11 new dramas and seven new comedies for its main network.
They include Hayes' single dad sitcom "Sean Saves the World," Spader's FBI thriller "The Blacklist," Underwood's crime show reboot "Ironside" and the family comedy "The Michael J. Fox Show," said to be inspired by the "Back to the Future" star's personal life.
"Michael J. Fox for us was just a huge, huge, huge win," Shaw Media's content boss Barbara Williams said Wednesday at a news conference attended by "Ironside" lead Blair Underwood, "Hawaii Five-O" star Daniel Dae Kim, "Vikings" star Jessalyn Gilsig and rapper/actress Queen Latifah.
"This takes him right back to his comedic roots and the show is a reflection of himself and his family and it just puts it out there that this is a guy with Parkinson's who also is raising a family with his wife and also has a big career and juggles all of those things that all of us do but he has this extra layer."
Other new fall dramas include the sci-fi adventure "Almost Human," about a cop teamed up with an android in the year 2048; the sultry "Dracula," starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the title role; and the fantasy thriller "Sleepy Hollow," a modern-day retelling of the classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.
Williams said Hollywood seems to be putting out a lot family-focused sitcoms and serialized dramas these days.
"We saw trends of a lot of serialized shows. I think there's a sense that there's an opportunity for serialized shows given the way people are watching TV now — given PVRs and VOD and all the ways and means for people to stay caught up and engaged in more complicated storytelling," she said.
"We also saw just a lot of magic — a lot of futuristic shows, a lot of supernatural, a lot of super powers."
Other fresh fall sitcoms include the Will Arnett project "The Millers," Tony Shalhoub and Jerry O'Connell's dating comedy "We Are Men" and the culture clash comedy "Welcome to the Family."
Mid-season will feature the highly anticipated return of Kiefer Sutherland as super spy Jack Bauer in "24: Live Another Day."
"Jack is back," declared Williams, adding that this edition of "24" will be a shorter run with just 12 episodes. "It's really exciting."
Other mid-season highlights include the "Chicago Fire" spinoff "Chicago PD," "Crossbones," starring John Malkovich as the legendary pirate Blackbeard; "Rake," featuring Greg Kinnear as a criminal defence lawyer; and the Canadian medical drama "Remedy."
New mid-season comedies include "About a Boy," starring Minnie Driver as a single mom raising her 11-year-old son, and the homegrown sitcom "Working the Engels," about a "ne'er-do-well family" forced to take over their father's legal business.
On the daytime side, music and movie star Queen Latifah joins the roster with her new talk show "The Queen Latifah Show," featuring musical performances and celebrity guests. But it won't just be about famous people, the musician-turned-business woman said, noting she was eager to find remarkable unknowns who have made a big difference in their communities.
"It's not just the A-list celebrity," she said. "For me, the dream guest is the everyday people who are amazing."
Williams touted big names helming new projects on Shaw's specialty channels as well, including Alan Thicke in the Slice reality show "In the Thicke of It." The winter series will centre on the former "Growing Pains" star, his wife and three children.
Rebecca Romijn stars in the Showcase police drama "King & Maxwell," Julia Ormond toplines Lifetime's fall series "Witches of East End" and Rob Lowe plays President John F. Kennedy in National Geographic Channel's fall two-hour docu-drama "Killing Kennedy."
Returning Slice series include "Big Brother Canada," "Mob Wives," and "Real Housewives" of New Jersey, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, New York and Miami. But the "Real Housewives of Vancouver" will not be back while Shaw reconsiders cast and possibly location, said Williams.
Over on Food Network Canada, "Top Chef Canada" will return for more culinary competition, while "Chopped Canada" debuts in winter 2014 with host Dean McDermott. Also new is "Cutthroat Kitchen," "Guy & Rachael's Kids Cook-Off" and "Trisha's Southern Kitchen," featuring music superstar and cookbook author Trisha Yearwood.
Other new specialty series include:
- Showcase's sci-fi series "Helix," about a team of scientists investigating a possible disease outbreak;
- Lifetime and History's simulcast of "Bonnie & Clyde," which follows Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and the rest of the Barrow Gang as they embark on daring bank heists;
- History's "Martian War," which re-imagines the First World War as an alien invasion;
- DIY's fall series "Vanilla Ice Goes Amish," which sees the rapper-turned-home renovator live and learn from Amish builders;
- HGTV Canada's "Real Potential" with Sarah Richardson and "Undercover Overhaul with the Cousins" featuring the "Kitchen Cousins" stars Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri.
Williams said Shaw is also adding a new lifestyle channel called DTOUR on Aug. 26, targeting "those with a lifelong passion for new experiences."
Upcoming series will include "Rock My RV with Bret Michaels," in which the rocker transforms ordinary recreational vehicles into "mobile mansions;" the adventure series "Get Lost," where a retired combat veteran and journalist husband and wife duo are dropped in the middle of nowhere and must find their way back to civilization; and "Burger Land," where host George Motz meets hamburger creators, tours their establishments and finds out what goes into making their burger one of the best in the land.
Fall series returning to the main network Global include "Bones," "Chicago Fire," "Elementary," "Family Guy," "Glee," "Hawaii Five-0," "NCIS," "NCIS:LA," "The Simpsons," "Survivor," "The Good Wife," "Parenthood," "Bob's Burgers" and "American Dad."
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