Upfronts ’21: Bell Media reveals slate of buzzy international acquisitions

CTV upfront slate
The Wonder Years reboot, Big Leap and The Cleaning Lady top CTV’s 2021-22 primetime slate.

A head of the June 10 reveal of CTV’s Bell Media upfronts and primetime programming schedule, the network has scored 20 new acquisitions for its main network and specialty channels.

First up for CTV is the reimagining of  the 1980s hit TV series The Wonder Years by Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels. A coming-of-age story set in the late 1960s that takes a nostalgic look at a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama. Seen through the eyes of 12-year-old Dean Williams, Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) narrates the series as adult Dean. The pilot episode was directed by former The Wonder Years star Fred Savage.

Daniels also helms the soap drama Our Kind Of People, based on the critically acclaimed book, Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class. Starring Yaya DaCosta (Chicago Med) as single mom Angela Vaughn and ensemble cast, she sets out to reclaim the family name through her haircare line of products.

The Big Leap, starring Scott Foley (Scandal), Teri Polo (Meet The Parents) and Piper Perabo (Mad Men), is a drama set against the make-or-break backdrop of a reality dance competition building towards a live production of Swan Lake.

The Cleaning Lady features a doctor who becomes a cleaning lady for the Mob under strenuous circumstances. The series stars a cast headed by Elodie Yung (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) and is based upon the original Argentine series. Warner Bros. Television and FOX Entertainment are the producers.

Queens stars Brandy and Eve as the 40-something members of a reunited ’90s pop hip-hop group The “Nasty Bitches,” looking to reclaim their popularity.

La Brea, headed by a cast that includes Natalie Zea (Justified) and Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor), is based on the premise of a massive sinkhole opening up in Los Angeles, tearing a family apart and trapping some of them in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers.

On the comedy front, Pivoting, which will premiere mid-season on CTV, stars Eliza Coupe, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Maggie Q, as three friends taking stock of their lives following the death of their best friend.

Maggie, starring Rebecca Rittenhouse, is a romantic comedy about a psychic who gets a glimpse of her own future and is produced by 20th Television, a part of Disney Television Studios.

Alter Ego, an all-new original singing competition, gives contestants a chance to live their dreams by performing as their dream avatar alter ego.

Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune, hosted by pop culture legends Pat Sajak and Vanna White, invites celebrity contestants to spin the wheel for up to $1 million for the charity of their choice.

AGT: Extreme, is an America’s Got Talent spin-off from producer Simon Cowell and production partner Fremantle that spotlights the most extreme, jaw-dropping acts.

CTV Sci-Fi: Star Trek doubles its presence

Two new Gene Roddenberry-inspired spinoffs – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and the animated Star Trek: Prodigy - are prime offerings for the fall Sci-Fi Channel lineup.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, starring Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn, and Ethan Peck, follows the adventure of the U.S.S. Enterprise under the stewardship of Captain Christopher Pike, while Star Trek: Prodigy offers a motley crew of six young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy in search for a better future.

The new programs complement the already-running Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks, the latter returning Aug. 12.

Also new to the Sci-Fi Channel: Chapelwaite - a horror drama based on Stephen King’s short story, Jerusalem’s Lot, and starring Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and Canada’s own Emily Hampshire that’s set in the 1850s.

George Romero fans will love Day Of The Dead, the intense story of six strangers trying to survive the first 24 hours of a zombie invasion.

CTV Life Lands a Jamie Oliver Canadian Exclusive

CTV Life’s upcoming hour-long special from iconic chef Jamie Oliver showcases recipes from his new book Together and was made specifically for a Canadian audience.

Backyard Bar Wars, hosted by comedian Chris Distefano, is a new home reno series that pits two neighbours against each other in the ultimate backyard build-off to see who can create the best at-home bar.

CTV Drama debuts Walker: Texas Ranger Reboot on June 23 at 8 p.m.

Walker updates the long-running series Walker, Texas Ranger with Supernatural‘s Jared Padalecki starring as Cordell Walker, a widower and father who returns home to Austin, Texas after being undercover for nearly a year and operating by his own moral code.

Leverage: Redemption, a crime drama, set in a world where it has become easier for the rich to become richer and the powerful to squash anyone who gets in their way, recruits Noah Wyle (ER) as part of the gang that rights some wrongs.

The program debuts July 15 (10 p.m.) with season one part “B” premiering in the fall.

Fires is a six-part anthology series inspired by Australians who survived the catastrophic bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020. The ensemble cast features Miranda Otto (Homeland), Anna Torv (Fringe) and Sam Worthington (Avatar) among others.

CTV will announce airdates June 10.