Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Coun. Doug Ford in the Sun News Network Toronto studio recording the debut of Ford Nation.
Credits: DAVE THOMAS/TORONTO SUN/AGENCE QMI
TORONTO -- The city's embattled mayor is about to go prime time.
Rob Ford spent more than four hours Sunday in Sun News Network's downtown studio recording what could be the first of a regular show, called Ford Nation. The mayor was mum about the contents of the show, which will air at 8 p.m. Monday, as he left the station.
But before entering the building for the taping, the mayor seemed feisty when challenged by reporters about giving his staffers a $5,000 raise Friday.
"My budget is $1 million less than (former mayor) David Miller's budget, let's put it that way," he said.
"I'm saving $1 million."
Ford has been plagued by scandal for weeks after admitting to smoking crack, drinking and driving, and making lewd comments. He has issued a series of public apologies.
The show, which will feature the mayor and his brother Coun. Doug Ford, premieres just over a week after his radio program on Newstalk 1010 was cancelled. The free-wheeling show was controversial because Ford used it as a podium to bypass media and speak directly to his supporters.
Monday's television show will be a little different, said Kory Teneycke, vice-president of Sun News. He likened the program to a "Barbara Walters special" where the Fords will be able to express themselves and viewers can judge what they see.
"This is an opportunity for the Fords, in their own words, to make their own explanations," he said.
"People can watch and make whatever judgment they have about their sincerity."
Teneycke said the network approached the Fords after their radio show was cancelled and no money has changed hands to make it happen.
And just a few days removed from the mayor's explicit sexual comments on live television, Teneycke said the network will deliver a "G-rated" product to viewers but acknowledged "it is impossible to script the Fords."
The show will consist of the Ford's sharing the air with some undisclosed guests, editorials and pre-recorded streeters from city residents.
Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington moderates the show with Sun News hosts Ezra Levant and Jerry Agar.
Warmington said some critics have complained the mayor will duck or dodge questions -- even in this new format. That won't be the case, he insisted.
"It was definitely Ford's show, but he had a lot of tough questions and he dealt with everything," Warmington said after the taping.
Ford will actually be competing with himself for viewers Monday night as CNN is slated to air Anderson Cooper's interview with the mayor at 8 p.m., as well.