Upfronts ’18: Corus unveils Canadian originals, international pickups

Updated: The media co's commissions included a culinary series from Proper Television, as well as a greenlight for the third and final season of Mary Kills People.

Corus Entertainment has revealed its slate of new and returning series for 2018/19, including a third and final season of Mary Kills People and renewals for Private Eyes and Top Chef Canada.

On Global there were five Canadian renewals, with greenlights for the second season of Border Security: America’s Front Line (produced by eOne), the 14th season of Entertainment Tonight Canada (Corus) and the seventh season of Big Brother Canada, in addition to third season renewals for Mary Kills People (Cameron Pictures, eOne) and Private Eyes (eOne). Mary Kills People, Private Eyes and Big Brother Canada will all return in midseason.

Corus said additional announcements about Global’s slate of originals would be made at a later date. Maria Hale, SVP of Global Entertainment and Content Acquisition, told Playback that there will be more Canadian drama announcements coming down the pipes. She added that Corus has a few projects in development now that will mark an “interesting departure” for Corus. “With our Canadian content we like to take some risks,” she said, pointing to Mary Kills People as an example. “We’ll see that again with our next projects.”

On the lifestyle front, Corus greenlit three new projects for Food Network Canada. The first of those, Iron Chef Canada (Proper Television, 10 x 60 – fall 2018, 10 x 60 – fall 2019), is a food competition based on a Japanese culinary format. The other two are Corus Studios projects: grilling competition series Fire Masters (Architect Films, 10 x 60 – spring 2019, 10 x 60 – spring 2020) and John Catucci-hosted Ultimate Food Bucket List (Lone Eagle Entertainment, 14 x 30 minutes). Top Chef Canada (Insight Productions) is also returning to Food Network Canada for a seventh season.

Those lifestyle series join previously announced renewals and greenlights for HGTV’s Sarah Off The Grid (Alibi Entertainment), Holmes + Holmes (The Holmes Group), Backyard Builds (Frantic Films), Love It or List It Vancouver (Big Coat Media), Property Brothers (Cineflix) and History channel’s Rust Valley Restorers (Mayhem Entertainment), Big Rig Warriors (Attraction Images), History Erased (formerly called World Without, produced by Cream Productions) and Canada/Ireland coproduction Vikings (Take 5 Productions and TM Productions Limited).

Meanwhile, Corus unveiled a number of commissions on the kids-content side. Star Falls (20 x 30 minutes, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment in association with Nickelodeon), will debut on YTV in September. The single camera family comedy tells the story of a daughter who schemes to create a romance between her mom and the lead actor of a Hollywood movie that’s shooting in their small town. As well, adventure series Go Away Unicorn (52 x 11 minutes, produced by Nelvana for Sonar Entertainment in association with Disney), was commissioned for YTV.

For Teletoon, Corus gave greenlights to four new series: Cupcake & Dino: General Services (52 x 11 minutes, produced by eOne in association with Netflix); Total DramaRama (52 x 11 minutes, produced by Fresh TV in association with Cartoon Network); Chop Chop Ninja (20 x 30 minutes, Sardine Productions); and Spaceman & Robotron (2 x 11 minutes, Luckas Cardona). As previously announced, Corus also greenlit Bravest Warriors (26 x 30 minutes, produced by Nelvana and Frederator) for YTV.

As well, three new originals are headed to Treehouse  Snow Snaps (26 x 11 minutes, Carpe Diem); Miss Persona (52 x 3 minutes, Nelvana); Corn & Peg (40 x 11 minutes, Nelvana) – as well as the previously announced Esme & Roy (52 x 11 minutes, produced by Nelvana in association with Sesame Workshop).

On the primetime front, Corus international pickups for Global included two dramas, four comedies and a reality series. The first of those dramas is FBI, a New York-set series about the inner workings of the U.S. intelligence service. It stars Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue), Zeeko Zaki (Valor), Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) and Ebonée Noel (Wrecked). As well, Global added New Amsterdam. The medical drama stars Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist) and is based on New York City’s historic Bellevue Hospital. 

New U.S. comedies include The Neighborhood, starring actor and comedian Cedric the Entertainer, and Happy Together, with Damon Wayans Jr. (New Girl) and Amber Stevens West (Ghosted). The channel also acquired I Feel Bad, starring Sarayu Blue (No Tomorrow) and exec produced by Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and San Diego-set Abby’s starring Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation) and Neil Flynn (The Middle). In addition, Corus also picked up Dancing With the Stars: Juniors for Global.

Corus has also bolstered its specialty channels with international acquisitions. For W Network, Corus added All American, starring Taye Diggs and Daniel Ezra; a reboot of the Charmed supernatural saga, starring Melonie Diaz, Vancouver-native Sarah Jeffrey, and Madeleine Mantock; sci-fi drama Roswell, New Mexico; and spin-off series Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. The shows join returning series The Good Fight, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Outlander. 

Corus moved hit series Outlander from Showcase to W last fall, leading to a 50% increase in audience over its season on Showcase. Daniel Eves, SVP of Specialty Networks, told Playback Daily that, with its new pick-ups, Corus was looking to build off the drama audience that came to W for Outlander. “We found that there was not only a fantastic drama audience already on W but if we could bring the right franchises we could do really, really well.”

The only new drama heading to Showcase is Legacies, the supernatural teen soap follows the next generation of supernatural beings at The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted, continuing the story of the heroes and villains from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. New seasons of Marvel’s Runaways, Supergirl, The Sinner, Absentia, Mr. Robot, Channel Zero: The Dream Door, Happy!, and The Magicians will also return to the channel.

Joining its Canadian commissions on Food Network are new series Baked in Vermont, with cookbook author and host Gesine Prado, and Girl meets Farm, hosted by food blogger Molly Yeh. 

Added to the HGTV Canada lineup are new series Big City Charm, following house-flipping couple Mark and Elizabeth Perez; Hidden Potential, following designer Jasmine Roth as she transforms basic houses into dream homes; and Rustic Rehab, with home experts David and Chenoa Rivera.

In addition to Stitched, Slice is adding Thom and Carson Project, featuring two of the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy cast members; Sweet Home, a reality design series hosted by Jennifer Welch; and Unanchored, following young, elite professionals embarking on an exclusive yacht festival.

The only U.S. new series added to History’s slate is In Search Of, a reboot of the 1970s show, this time hosted and executive produced by Zachary Quinto (Star Trek).