In conversation with: Mike Cosentino, President, Content and Programming, Bell Media Discusses CTV’s Acquisitions for the 2018/19 Season
— June 4, 2018
By BILL HARRIS
Special to Bell Media
If Mike Cosentino were running a pro sports team, he wouldn’t be shy about giving quality playing time to marquee “Rookies.”
As the president of content and programming at Bell Media, Cosentino has been busy piecing together the CTV and CTV Two schedules for the coming TV season. It’s always a formidable mix of new shows and returning favourites, but as far as fresh faces are concerned, Cosentino pointed to a number of “Rookies” – both literally and figuratively – that he thinks are really ready to rip.
Of course, this is only part of the story, as Bell Media’s full slate of homegrown Canadian programming still is to be announced. But with the Bell Media upfront presentation coming on June 7, we had a chat with Cosentino about all his recently revealed acquisitions:
THE ROOKIE: “It was very clear almost immediately that the show of the market was The Rookie,” Cosentino said. “(Producer) Mark Gordon and his team just nailed it, with Nathan Fillion as the star, and the writing is just superb. There were a handful of dramas that we felt would really work for us, but The Rookie was head and shoulders above the rest.”
Fillion, a Canadian and the former star of Castle, plays a 40-something man from a small town who experiences a life-changing event and decides he wants to make a difference by joining the Los Angeles Police Department as a, well, mature rookie. There are three rookies and three training officers featured prominently, and one of the other rookies alongside Fillion’s character is played by Canadian Melissa O’Neil, known for her role in the series Dark Matter and a former winner of Canadian Idol.
“She has a terrific role in this,” Cosentino said.
Keep an eye out for a budding romance between the characters played by Fillion and O’Neil.
GOD FRIENDED ME: “It’s the sleeper hit of the year,” Cosentino stated boldly. “I think it’s really going to surprise and delight people. I can watch it with my 14-year-old daughter. It has great characters and a really interesting point of view. And it has a great little twist and an excellent cast.”
Brandon Micheal Hall plays a vocal athiest whose life changes in mysterious ways when he receives a Facebook friend request from someone calling themselves “God.”
“For us, it’s a great show for Sunday night at 8 o’clock,” Cosentino continued. “The protagonist actually doesn’t believe in God, so you’re coming from that point of view and the show unfolds around that skepticism. It isn’t so much about spiritualism as it is about wondering if there’s a bigger picture and if everything is connected, whether that’s God or other things. This is described as a dramedy, but I see it more as a drama. It’s really a breakout role for Brandon Micheal Hall.”
MAGNUM P.I.: “It’s a fun, action reboot with that Hawaiian backscape,” Cosentino said. “It just popped off the screen.”
THE RESIDENT: “I think we really wanted to address our Mondays, so The Resident (a medical drama that is going into its second season, but is new to CTV) was a really important complement to how we thought about Magnum P.I.,” Cosentino explained. “Because of The Resident and The Good Doctor, that they could bookend Magnum, for us that was a really attractive opportunity. The Resident and Magnum were an important one-two punch, so to speak.”
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: “It was a really strong crop for drama this year, and there were fewer comedies that punched through, but for us this was one of them,” Cosentino said. “The dad (played by Michael Cudlitz) had me at hello. I mean, that’s Bull from Band of Brothers, right? I was like, ‘Hey, we’re getting this show!’ But it’s a very strong cast overall, and it has that Goldbergs-esque appeal, in that it’s a time warp, set in the ’70s, but it’s also kind of a wink to today. It’s during Watergate, which the dad is describing as ‘phony news.’ ”
THE ALEC BALDWIN SHOW: “There are now opportunities to do other things Sunday night at 10 p.m.,” said Cosentino, referring to the fact that for decades Sunday at 10 p.m. essentially was reserved for scripted drama. “This is Alec Baldwin interviewing A-listers, so there will be a big curiosity factor. It seems like a lean-back hour with a couple of pretty big names every week. I think we’ll take a leap of faith with Alec. We’ll see how it goes.”
WHISKEY CAVALIER: “It plays a little bit like Mr. and Mrs. Jones, kind of Spy vs. Spy, FBI vs. CIA,” Cosentino said. “And Scott Foley is a dramatic actor with terrific comedic timing. It has a global point of view. It’s kind of a light procedural that we liked a lot.”
In an odd case of “friendly fire,” late-night host Jimmy Kimmel really roasted the title Whiskey Cavalier during his comedy routine at the recent ABC upfront.
“It’s unfortunate that Jimmy set it up that way, but it’s actually a pretty fantastic show,” Cosentino said.
THE ENEMY WITHIN: “Jennifer Carpenter immediately was a key reason for us to chase this show,” said Cosentino, recalling Carpenter’s long run as foul-mouthed sister Debra on Dexter. “But this is a straight-down-the middle, solid, spy, action show.”
THE VILLAGE: “This follows in the This Is Us vein,” said Cosentino, referring to CTV’s big-buzz hit drama that just completed its second season. “The Village is a hearts-and-minds, emotional series. We got the same feeling when we saw this as we did when we first saw This Is Us. And one of the cast members in The Village (Canadian Warren Christie) was one of the leads on our series Motive.”
THE RED LINE: “What an emotional hour,” said Cosentino, talking about this tale of a white cop who shoots and kills a black doctor. “It’s a really racially charged story. It’s an event series and we just thought, it stars Noah Wyle, it feels so timely, it was just too good to pass up. It will play very interestingly in the United States, of course, but it’s just an excellent show.”
GRAND HOTEL: “This is a soapy remake of a format that I think has been pretty successful,” Cosentino said of this Eva Longoria-produced series, which is based on a Spanish show. “It’s a modern setting with terrific twists and glamour and betrayal, all those great soapy story lines that you would come to expect from a show like this. It’s a fun romp – well, maybe not so much fun for the characters, but it’s a romp.”
THE FIX: “Marcia Clark (lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial) is an executive producer, and it really does play like a mirror story line – you can’t help but see all the parallels to O.J.,” Cosentino said. “The lead is Robin Tunney, who you’ll remember from The Mentalist, and she’s really great. We kind of looked at it like, ‘Okay, what is this going to be?’ We weren’t sure. But honestly, when I saw it, I didn’t want it to end.”