Seen and heard at the upfronts
Friday, May 19
The hip-hop stars did two songs for the crowd at
Aft that, though, they performed their hit "Let's Get It Started," and the vocals were completely live.
Good night, ladies and germs
There's dying on stage, and then there's what happened to Fox Sports executives David Hill and Ed Goren on Thursday.
The FOX upfront was rolling along reasonably well.
Then Goren and Hill took the stage to tout FOX's acquisition of college football's Bowl Championship Series, and things went swiftly, and steeply, downhill. Hill had some trouble pronouncing "Tostitos" (as in, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl), and after drawing a few chuckles the first time, he and Goren proceeded to beat that into the ground. They talked over each other, strayed from the teleprompter and made a joke involving a donut and some other Fox Sports exec that not a single person seemed to get.
The crowd, which was at its last upfront and already a little surly over a late start, was elsewhere for the rest of FOX's spiel, which lasted at least 40 minutes after that.
Thursday, May 18
The highlight of last year's upfronts was the introduction of
The network has a new slogan, he revealed: "The new CW -- we ain't bulls***in'." He also took some pointedly funny jabs at the rather monochromatic nature of network TV.
"You should buy way more ads this year, because Chris will now be played by a white girl," he joked. In fact, he said, the show was planning to increase the number of white faces dramatically: "Sometimes white people will just walk by and wave."
We don't know about the second part, but we're pretty sure Tyler
Behind the upfronts music
Wednesday, May 17
The song-and-dance shows that make up the networks' upfront pitches to advertisers have included a pretty heavy emphasis on the song part this week. We've been treated to performances by three platinum-selling artists that would make for a pretty fair "Divas Live" lineup on
Today, the cast of the Broadway show "Jersey Boys" ran through some Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons songs to kick off CBS' upfront. They were followed by
The best of the week so far, though, came from fledgling netlet MyNetwork TV.
It had been so long, in fact, that she had to stop and restart "Soak Up the Sun," pausing to recall its lyrics.
"The radiation must have gone to my brain," she joked.
Manning vs. Manning -- not on CBS
CBS trotted out
Of course, a lot would have to happen between now and February for that to come true. The Mannings will, however, face off during the opening weekend of the regular season, and they talked about how excited they are at the prospect.
Just one thing: The game will air on NBC in its inaugural Sunday prime-time telecast. So CBS in essence promoted NBC's game for about five minutes.
Dancing with the network executive
Tuesday, May 16
ABC chief Steve McPherson and
The bet was on who would advance further in the competition,
"Never let it be said that I don't pay up on a bet," McPherson said afterward. And, we have to say, he did so rather stylishly. Dressed in all black, McPherson did a pretty credible cha-cha -- certainly better than anything Master P or Mayne managed during their time on "Dancing."
And given that ABC's schedule for next season looks pretty good, his practicing must not have cut too deeply into his day job.
A moment with Jimmy Kimmel
Now that ABC has pulled itself out of the dumps, Jimmy Kimmel doesn't have quite as much material to work with at ABC's upfronts. He did his best, though, on Tuesday.
"Are you ready for no football?" he asked the crowd, referring to the move of "Monday Night Football" to
The late-night host is looking forward, though, to
ABC execs touted the network's viability with "upscale" viewers several times. Kimmel likes that word.
"It means rich people, right?" he asks. "I guess that sounds a lot better than 'ABC -- No. 1 with a**holes.' We really are the Grey Poupon of TV."
NFL broadcast team goes deep
Monday, May 15
The distance from the foot of the stage at
Monday, the rest of NBC's NFL team -- play-by-play man
On his first throw, Bettis tossed a perfect spiral into the balcony, drawing loud applause from the crowd (his receiver appeared to muff the catch, though). Collinsworth got too much air under his first throw, laying up a proverbial wounded duck that fell several rows short. His second attempt, though, landed in about the same spot as Bettis' throw.
No word on whether Bettis collected on the bet.
NBC spreads a new word
In the past, it's been fun to track the number of times NBC executives used the word "upscale" in its presentation to advertisers. Last year, on the heels of a down year for the network, the assembled Peacock personages uttered the word a whopping 24 times.
This year, coming off another season of ratings declines, the word was all but banished from the vocabulary. We only heard it two times at Radio City Music Hall, a decrease of more than 90 percent.
The word this year is "quality," which got six mentions Monday -- four spoken and two bookending a clip package. Another contender is "explosive," which network boss Kevin Reilly used several times to describe the potential of some of NBC's new shows. We didn't keep track, but between a morning press conference and the afternoon pitch to advertisers he must have said it at least five times.
A flight of speculation
Based on a couple of my fellow passengers on the flight to New York Sunday, I'm prepared to say that "What About Brian" and "
OK, granted, this is not the soundest basis for the call, and networks have occasionally changed their minds at the last minute, but "Brian" star
The pickup of "Brian," should that turn out to be true, is something of a surprise, given its so-so ratings. "George Lopez" wasn't a world-beater this season either, but it's one of only a couple comedies ABC is likely to keep.
NBC jumps the gun
Sunday, May 14
The upfronts officially kick off at 3 p.m. ET Monday, but NBC got a little head start on its presentation Sunday.
During the series finale of "The West Wing," the network teased one of its shows for next season, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." The inclusion of the spot during
It may, however, have been a bit disingenuous. The voiceover declared that "the creator of 'The West Wing' isn't done yet," although Sorkin has in fact been done with that show for three years. He and fellow executive producer Thomas Schlamme -- who's also an exec producer of "Studio 60" -- left at the end of the
The promo focused primarily on Sorkin's pedigree and the high-wattage cast, which includes
Given the rate at which NBC has been picking up shows recently, the early promo for "Studio 60" is hardly a surprise. The network ordered the show several weeks ago, and it picked up two other dramas, "The Black Donnellys" and "Kidnapped," well before the upfronts. Word also hit the Hollywood trade papers last week about several other pickups; the full story will be revealed Monday.