Best of the year – Corrie Coe

Playback's independent production executive of the year talks greenlighting series pitches and developing homegrown fare that stands up against the imports.
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As Playback counts down to the end of the year, we’re rolling out our Best Of stories from our Winter 2012 issue. Bell Media’s Corrie Coe here tells Playback about the strategy behind giving a pitch the greenlight.

Independent Production Executive of the Year: Corrie Coe

As senior vice president of independent production at Bell Media, Corrie Coe takes endless pitches from producers eager to get their TV shows on the air alongside hits like Flashpoint, The L.A. Complex and Saving Hope.

And turning pitches into TV catnip is no easy alchemy for Coe, who is responsible for Bell Media’s two conventional channels, 28 specialty channels and suite of online assets, and her development team.

“We’re looking at dramas or comedies or reality programming or variety and we’re looking at what the channel brands are, and what the programmers for those channels tell us they need to meet their programming strategy for the upcoming year or two,” Coe explains.

The challenge is further complicated in the need to develop the new series across traditional genres and not simply channels.

So as Coe moves from pitch to pitch, her antennae is tuned to what is needed or not needed at a broadcaster that, like a Swiss Army Knife, has different programming combinations to serve a host of channel brands.

That has producers needing to hit an elusive sweet spot with series concepts.

“Even though it might be a drama or an unscripted reality series, [successful pitches] all have a flavour or a stamp of personality that the channels are looking for and which we can recognize and help shape,” adds Coe. She works closely with lieutenants like Trish Williams (drama), Sarah Fowlie (comedy) and Robin Johnston (factual) to push their respective development slates along to possible greenlights.

Also spurring development is a need for Canadian shows that stand-up alongside U.S. series and other foreign fare on Bell Media’s 60-odd channels. The pressure is great.

“We want every time slot to have a hit, whether that show in the slot is Canadian or otherwise,” Coe insists.

More recent projects include Coe and her team shepherding a multi-cam pilot for Spun Out, moving beyond sketch and stand-up on The Comedy Network to get fresh talent on the channel.

A wider audience is also sought at Space with new dramas like Bitten and Orphan Black, which came out of the Canadian Film Centre.

Looking to 2013, Coe is looking to possibly do more projects like Engraved on a Nation, an umbrella title for a doc series on TSN, CTV and RDS that has established filmmakers tell human stories from the Canadian Football League’s past.