Bell Media stays the course for fall 2012

The network packs Thursday with comedy and adds Charlie Sheen's Anger Management (pictured) to its upfront schedule.

Last but not least in Canada’s TV upfront week, Bell Media has rolled out its fall 2012 lineup, putting four new programs onto CTV and three new shows on CTV Two.

Kevin Crull, president, Bell Media, says the media co had two-and-a-half hours to fill on CTV going into the L.A. screenings and feels the network got the best show of the season, the Kevin Bacon starring mid-season drama The Following.

“Fox described the show as the next 24 at their upfront, and we would have to agree,” he says.

The network also got what Crull calls a “scheduling gift from the gods,” when CBS moved Two and a Half Men to Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. in the spot immediately following The Big Bang Theory at 8 p.m. on CTV.

“We now have the number one and number two comedies in the country going back-to-back for the biggest hour of comedy in the country,” he says.

“We have always had that dangling half hour, following Big Bang, so we are excited about how that worked out,” he adds.

Phil King, president, CTV programming and sports, Bell Media says he is also excited about the acquisition of former Men star Charlie Sheen’s new comedy Anger Management, running at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, adding that it will “beat [Citytv's] New Girl head to head.”

Rick Brace, president, specialty channels and CTV production for Bell Media, says getting the new Sheen show is a bit of a coup for the network as it is produced by Lionsgate for F/X, making its assumed Canadian home to be on Rogers Media’s F/X Canada.

“You really do have to peek under the tent when people talk about bringing services into Canada, because unless they’re producing that content themselves, or the parent company is, it’s coming from the same place we get all of our programming, which means a lot of free balls,” he says.

CTV One two-steps into Tuesday, kicking off with the results show of Dancing with the Stars at 8 p.m. and Anger Management at 9 p.m., followed by The New Normal, about a male couple who enlist a Midwestern single woman as their surrogate mother. Drama closes the night at 10 p.m. with Criminal Minds.

The change-ups to Thursday see the night kick off with perennial ratings hit The Big Bang Theory at 8 p.m. in simulcast, followed by a moved-from-Monday-night Two and a Half Men in simulcast at 8:30 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy keeps a steady pulse (and timeslot) at 9p.m. and Flashpoint is moved from Tuesday to Thursday night at 10 p.m. for its final season.

New to Saturday night is The Neighbors at 10 p.m., preceded by Crimetime at both 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., and followed by Whitney at 10:30 p.m.

New drama The Mob Doctor joins the Sunday lineup at 9 p.m, with lead-ins Once Upon a Time at 7 p.m., and The Amazing Race in simulcast at 8 p.m., and followed by The Mentalist at 10 p.m. in simulcast.

The daytime schedule on CTV sees The Ellen Degeneres Show in simulcast going head to head with Citytv’s new talker, Katie at 4 p.m.

New to the CTV Two line-up are new drama Emily Owens, M.D., about a young surgical intern at 9 p.m. on Tuesday; DC Comics action-adventure drama Arrow, which leads off Wednesday’s lineup at 8 p.m., and musical drama  Nashville Wednesday at 10 p.m.

Joining the schedule in mid-season is new CTV original drama series Motive (working title), from Vancouver-based Foundation Features and Lark Productions, about a Vancouver homicide detective. The series is exec produced by Daniel Cerone, who wrote the pilot, Louise Clark, Rob Merilees, Erin Haskett, Rob La Belle, Lindsay Macadam and showrunner James Thorpe.

Also stepping up mid-season is Kevin Bacon-starring psychological thriller The Following, paranormal drama Zero Hour, Do No Harm, which is a modern take on Jekyll and Hyde, cop drama Golden Boy, and new comedy The Family Tools, about a family-owned handyman business.

On the Cancon front, CTV has Flashpoint, The Listener, and new show Motive on the roster, and King says the network is not finished yet. “I can assure you we are extremely bullish on our Canadian slate,” he says.

“We’re working on probably two or three other projects right now. We don’t see the Canadian development necessarily having the focus of being ready [to discuss] for this week; it’s a 12-month process of development,” he adds, nothing that Bell will be adding Canadian programming both to CTV and Bell’s specialty channels as well.

On the specialty front, Catherine Macleod, Bell Media VP specialty channels says that the focus will be on getting exclusive programming in the same way that conventional does, starting with the premiere of Dallas on Bravo and Brian Austin Green-starring The Wedding Band on MuchMoreMusic.

“I think that there’s been an attitude about specialty that you’re a second run or a bunch of reruns, and that’s really not the attitude we have,” she says.

“Our philosophy is to make sure that people want specialty channels as much as they want CTV, so we’re looking forward to huge growth,” she adds.

Playback asked King to elaborate on what he calls CTV’s “secret sauce” for fall 2012.

View the complete schedule here

With files from Danielle Ng-See-Quan