Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cityline Celebrates 25th Anniversary


City -- Wednesdays

City -- February 25

Blasts From The Past

Tracy Moore Marks The 25th Anniversary Of
"Cityline" With A Walk Down "Memory" Lane

By Eric Kohanik

It's “Fashion Friday” on Cityline and the studio audience is buzzing inside City's production centre in downtown Toronto.

Minutes before taping begins, host Tracy Moore chats up the crowd before choosing one person to undergo a makeover that makes jaws drop at the end of the show. After the taping is done, exhilarated audience members file out, still abuzz over what they've seen – and over their gift bags containing products highlighted on the show.

“I want to sit in that audience and get those prizes,” Moore jokes later.

Cityline has been a daytime staple for a quarter-century, growing from a local show to a popular fixture across Canada. With most episodes featuring themes – including “Around the House,” “Family Day,” “Home Day” and “Fashion Friday” – the show has built its following with the help of a lengthy roster of lifestyle experts who make regular guest appearances.

Cityline will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a primetime special on Feb. 25. Hosted by Moore, it will showcase highlights pulled from Cityline's archives.

“It's going to be a walk down memory lane, for sure.” Moore says.

At the helm of Cityline for just over five years, the 39-year-old Moore is the third regular host in the show's history. Although Dini Petty headlined the show when it launched, it was Marilyn Denis who was the face of Cityline from 1989 until 2008.

Amid the complex division of media assets after ChumCity (then City's parent company) was acquired by CTVglobemedia (now Bell Media) in 2007, Denis (also a morning-radio co-host on Toronto's CHUM-FM) ended up in CTV's bullpen. The network eventually launched The Marilyn Denis Show in 2011, using a format similar to Cityline.

Citytv and Cityline, meanwhile, became part of the Rogers media empire. After Denis' departure in May 2008, the show used a series of guest hosts before making Moore the regular host in October.

“It's been a good run,” Moore reflects. “I don't even think we thought it was going to be this amazing. It's really turned out well.”

A married mother of two, Moore started her career as an intern at CTV before becoming a videographer at CBC. She worked in news at CBC Newsworld (now called CBC News Network) and Toronto 1 (now known as Sun News) before jumping to City's Breakfast Television as its reporter and backup news anchor. After taking time off to have her first child, Moore decided to switch gears, becoming one of Cityline's guest hosts before landing the gig as regular host.

Coming from a news background, Moore says it was “about a year-and-a-half” before she felt comfortable in the role. “It's such a big show that, for the first few months, you're trying to figure out who these guest experts are, what the tone is supposed to be, and how to deal with a live audience,” she says. “Doing a live lifestyle show is about instant reaction and that's a tough transition. It took a few months to really understand how Cityline connects with viewers.”

Cityline's longtime supervising producer, Chrissie Rejman, disagrees with how soon Moore caught on. “It was over the course of a month,” Rejman insists. “Tracy was laughing. She was forgetting that she was 'interviewing' somebody and, instead, she was having a conversation. That was the difference. That's what we looked for.”

Rejman is effusive in praising how Moore connects with viewers – and the studio audience. “What Tracy is absolutely fantastic at is she's always willing, after the show, to have her photo taken,” says Rejman. “That personal contact with everybody is a really important ingredient.”

For her part, Moore says she is just trying to be herself. “With television being the way it is right now, people need a little bit of levity with their information,” she says. “This is what I get from the audience.

“They have a date with us every morning. They trust us. And we take that very seriously.”

Cityline – City – weekdays
Cityline 25th Anniversary Special – City – Feb. 25

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine - February 2014.)

CBC is back in Olympic spotlight


CBC and other channels - Beginning Feb. 7

Going For Gold

After Almost Six Years On The Sidelines, 
CBC Jumps Back Into The Olympic Spotlight

By Eric Kohanik

It's been close to six years since CBC was the official Canadian broadcaster for the Olympics. And, for CBC Sports Weekend host Scott Russell, sitting on the sidelines for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games in London wasn't easy to stomach.

“It was, personally, tough to be out for two Olympics,” Russell admits. “Although I went to Vancouver and to London, it was in a much different role. We're so happy to be back in the Olympic broadcasting business at CBC. We couldn't be more excited.”

CBC once had a lengthy run of Olympic coverage. Before the CTV/Rogers Olympic Consortium scooped up rights to Winter 2010 and Summer 2012, CBC had billed itself as “Canada's Olympic Network” since 1996, broadcasting the Winter Games in Nagano (1998), Salt Lake City (2002) and Turin (2006) as well as the Summer Games in Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).

CBC unveiled its broadcast team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi at the network's headquarters in Toronto back on Oct. 30 as it kicked off a 100-day countdown to the opening ceremonies on Feb. 7. Chief news anchor Peter Mansbridge and Hockey Night in Canada veteran Ron MacLean will cohost coverage of the ceremonies from Sochi's Fisht Olympic Stadium. CBC's English-language Olympic telecasts will then be split into four major dayparts.

Diana Swain and David Amber will co-host Olympic Morning each day, while Russell will man the anchor desk for Olympic Daytime. MacLean will take on evening hosting duties on Olympic Primetime, while Andi Petrillo and Andrew Change will co-host Olympic Overnight.

Time-zone differences will be a major factor. Many live events will air during the mornings and afternoons in Canada. And that will actually put Russell and his Olympic Daytime telecasts into a “prime” spotlight.

“There's a lot going on in that time slot and that's perfect,” Russell says. “We'll be moving around from venue to venue in order to capture as many things as we can that are going on, live.”

CBC's mainline TV coverage will be supplemented by TSN, TSN2 and Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet One as well as CBC News Network. Radio coverage will be divvied up between CBC Radio and TSN Radio, while French-language TV coverage will be split between Radio-Canada and RDS.

Meanwhile, online coverage at will also offer a wide variety of video content. Most notable among that will be live online streaming of Olympic competitions.

There have been a lot of technological and social-media innovations since the last time CBC was Canada's official Olympic broadcaster. And Russell admits that will mean new challenges.

“I mean, the last time we covered the Olympics, in Beijing, I'm pretty sure that the iPad didn't exist,” Russell jokes. “I'm also positive that Twitter was not a factor, right? So, this immediacy is a challenge. And the multi-platform situation is also a challenge.

“But I think it's something we've concentrated on at CBC. The way we approach Sports Weekend is now very much a multi-platform strategy. And that's the way Canadians want to consume the Olympics. They need the information as it happens.”

CBC has high ratings hopes for its coverage in Sochi. No wonder. Canadians have always had a fondness for the Winter Games.

“We have this feeling of being a winter nation,” Russell muses. “We are able to race down the mountains, to play on frozen ponds. So, yeah, these are Games that we are comfortable with. And we are comfortable being at the head of the class in the Winter Games.

“I think that's the way the country is built. We are a country of extremes. Our geography lends itself to playing outside in the winter, and to hockey and skiing and curling and all of these things that are about us as Canadians. And so I think it's only natural that, when it comes to the Winter Games, we sit up and take notice.”

2014 Winter Olympics – CBC and other channels – beginning Feb. 7

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine - February 2014.)