You'll hear a variety of pop hits during TV network upfront presentations, but the only song that really should be part of the soundtrack this week is Everything is Awesome from The Lego Movie. It's the perfect mantra for upfronts, where all the network executives who take the stage will be full of optimism that their new crop of shows will finally be the ones that take them to the top.
But of course, everything is not awesome—even for NBC, the No. 1 network for adults ages 18 to 49. And reality often sets in shortly after the upfronts conclude. Last year, it took just 17 days—Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly stepped down a little more than two weeks after trumpeting Fox's new lineup to advertisers on May 12. With that in mind, and before you hear this year's batch of (at least partially) empty upfronts promises, here's a look back at the five worst predictions from last year's presentations:
1) Mulaney is the next Seinfeld, and Red Band Society is the next Glee.—Kevin Reilly, Fox
Dead network president walking Reilly set the bar sky high for John Mulaney's sitcom Mulaney, which Reilly declared would be "Seinfeld for a new generation." Perhaps he meant that it too would have anemic first-season ratings: Mulaney's last episodes averaged a barely-there 0.4 rating among adults 18 to 49. Similarly, Reilly compared Fox's teen ensemble hospital drama Red Band Society—"an inspiring show that feels commercial"—to Glee, and predicted that its fresh-faced cast "will end up on magazine covers and generate social media buzz." Wrong again. Red Band and its coverless stars played out the string on Saturday nights, which is broadcast's version of purgatory.
2) Get excited for Jump of the Century and Hieroglyph, both airing soon!—Reilly
Reilly was far from the only one to disappear from Fox shortly after the upfronts. He touted two programs to advertisers that were canceled before they ever made it to air: straight-to-series pickup Hieroglyph (Fox pulled the plug a month later) and Jump of the Century, in which two rival stuntmen would attempt Evel Knievel's failed jump across Idaho's Snake River Canyon (it was scrapped last July). "The power of broadcast really shines through when there's urgency to view," Reilly said of Jump of the Century. Of course, it also really shines through when the shows are actually broadcast.
3) Allegiance couldn't be more relevant, and is the perfect partner for The Blacklist.—Robert Greenblatt, NBC
NBC Entertainment chairman Greenblatt began laying the groundwork for The Blacklist's risky midseason shift from Monday to Thursday, where it would help shore up NBC's once peerless Thursday lineup. And a major piece of the Thursday night puzzle, according to Greenblatt, was new drama Allegiance, the watered-down version of FX's superb The Americans about a CIA analyst whose parents are Russian spies. "It feels even more relevant than it did a few months ago," said Greenblatt. "This show will have the same urgency of The Blacklist—very compatible on our Thursday night." Nyet! Instead, Allegiance shed more than half of its Blacklist lead-in and was canceled after just five weeks.
4) Manhattan Love Story is the next great romantic comedy.—Paul Lee, ABC
ABC Entertainment president Lee tried valiantly to prop up his Tuesday night comedies Manhattan Love Story and Selfie, even though he had relegated them to one of TV's worst time slots. Manhattan Love Story, he proclaimed, "is a classic romantic comedy that shows why men and women have such a hard time getting along." Except, most classic romantic comedies aren't canceled after just four episodes, which is what happened to Manatthan Love Story, the season's first casualty. (Selfie followed shortly thereafter.)
5) The McCarthys is so good it will bring New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans together!—Nina Tassler, CBS
Touting CBS' new Thursday night sitcom, The McCarthys, CBS Entertainment chairman Tassler noted that the series about a Boston family is "a Boston show even you Yankees will love." Instead, both fan bases, and much of CBS' audience, soundly rejected the sitcom, which disappeared from the airwaves in January and is the network's second-lowest-rated scripted show this season in total viewers, with just 6.8 million. "It's not easy to get accepted into the CBS comedy family," said Tassler. Finally, an accurate upfront prediction.