(L-R) Dave Hughes, George Calombaris, Carrie Bickmore, Julia Morris, Amanda Keller and Ricky Ponting at the Ten Upfronts.
To the tune of Julie Andrews’ ‘My Favourite Things’ Julia Morris sang “I’ve had a gutful of administration” in a video clip screened at Network Ten’s upfronts on Thursday night.
Wearing a shimmering silver dress, Morris then appeared on stage at the Sydney Exhibition Centre with a troupe of male dancers to continue the song, finishing with the line: “Now we don’t feel so bad.”
The song-and-dance routine summed up the mood: Relief among the broadcaster’s staff that five months of being in administration is almost over as new owner CBS is poised to take control; and justified confidence in the 2018 programming slate.
Ten unveiled a raft of new shows including drama Playing for Keeps, narrative comedies How to Stay Married and Street Smart, a rebooted Blind Date, observational documentary The Secret Life of Four Year Olds and the first-ever pilots week on Australian TV.
Missing from the list were Offspring, which Ten has acknowledged is a loss-maker because it has run longer than Screen Australia’s 65-episodes funding cap, and The Wrong Girl.
Chief content officer Beverley McGarvey said it is unlikely Offspring will return next year but hinted there could be a spin-off, and The Wrong Girl’s fate is still to be decided.
CEO Paul Anderson told the packed auditorium, which included CBS Studios International president Armando Nuñez: “We are now in the final stages of being acquired by CBS Corporation. This is a game changer for Ten and we believe a significant positive for the Australian media industry.
“CBS is a global entertainment giant, a mass media company that is the most-watched television network in the US, with one of the world’s largest libraries of entertainment content.
“Making and acquiring great content is their mission, and it is our mission as well.”
Screentime’s Playing for Keeps will focus on the women who support footballers, described as a world of affairs, business opportunities, mounting credit card bills, groupies, harassment, racism, sexism, paparazzi and an absurd amount of fun. Ten came up with the idea and the scripts are being written by Claire Phillips and Christine Bartlett (who each penned episodes of The Wrong Girl and Offspring) and Jaime Browne (Sibling Rivalry, The Mule).
How To Stay Married, a Princess Pictures/Pablo Pictures co-production, will star Peter Helliar and Lisa McCune as a couple whose marriage of 12 years has gone stale. Complications arise when she goes back to work just as he loses his job and his man-child brother moves in.
CJZ’s Street Smart is a dysfunctional family comedy from the co-creators of Here Come The Habibs!, which stars Tahir Bilgic as gang leader Steve, whose big dreams of girls, riches and respect are constantly thwarted by his nemesis, parking officer Joe (Rob Shehadie).
Julia Morris will host Blind Date, which will see a singleton asking questions of three potential suitors to determine which one is right for him or her, produced by Playmaker Media.
Based on an overseas format, Screentime’s The Secret Life Of Four Year Olds follows kids of that age as they meet at pre-school, make and break friendships, share, stand up for themselves and find their place in a social group.
In mid-2018’s pilot week Ten will screen several pilots of Australian shows across a number of genres. Ten said the initiative represents a substantial investment in new local production and it will reveal full details in the new year.
The slate includes the previously-announced Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures, Hughesy We Have a Problem and Bachelor in Paradise.
MasterChef Australia will return for its 10th season and there will be new series of I’m a Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here!, Australian Survivor, Have You Been Paying Attention?, The Project, The Bachelor Australia, The Bachelorette Australia, Shark Tank, Gogglebox Australia, Cram, Todd Sampson’s Body Hack 2.0 and Bondi Rescue.
Among the new US series are three CBS productions: Instinct, a crime thriller about a former CIA operative who lives as a professor and writer; 9JKL, a comedy about a man who lives in an apartment with his parents and his brother’s family as neighbours; and SEAL Team, which follows a Navy SEAL team on high-stake missions around the globe.
This morning the NSW Supreme Court approved the transfer of Ten’s shares to CBS, the final stage of the takeover. CBS has signalled it will leave Ten’s management in place.
Australian producers and distributors to whom IF spoke at the upfronts welcome the new owner and believe the US studio will give Ten more financial muscle to compete even more effectively with the Nine and Seven networks.