The CW , which presented the final fall schedule architected by departing network president Dawn Ostroff, is offering its most ambitious slate to-date: four new series (three dramas and one reality hour), with changes on all five evenings. The dramas are Hart of Dixie, Ringer (which was developed for CBS) and The Secret Circle; with the reality hour comedic-driven H8R, hosted by Mario Lopez.
Monday opens with Gossip Girl moving back to 8 p.m., leading into new drama Hart of Dixie. Current Monday 8 p.m. occupant 90210, which is not the “hit” the network would lead you to believe, heads to Tuesdays at 8 p.m. into new drama Ringer, with former Buffy, the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar playing twin sisters. Wednesday opens with new reality hour H8R, which unites celebrities with the fans who hate them (“Snookie” and Kim Kardashian appear in the pilot), followed by the first all-time edition of America’s Next Top Model, which host Tyra Banks promises will never be “ordinary” again. Returning The Vampire Diaries on Thursday leads into new compatible sci-fi themed drama The Secret Circle on Thursday. And Friday will feature relocated Nikita, which is back for season two, and veteran Supernatural.
May 19, 2011, 2:42 PM EDT
Big fans of details-oriented upfronts who aren't particularly enthusiastic about a party, in which Jay-Z shows up to perform a set that includes nearly every one of his hits, would have been sorely disappointed in last night's Adult Swim upfront—because that's exactly what was on offer.
The event kicked off at 9 p.m. in the shadow of two gigantic metallic owls (the official mascot of the network) shooting laser lights from their eyes, which should have been the first indicator to anyone expecting a traditional presentation that Adult Swim’s was aiming for a slightly different atmosphere than some of the other events.
The “presentation” itself consisted of a short video montage to the blaring tune of Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” which introduced six new series and specials in a matter of only a few seconds. The shows include NTSF:SD:SUV:: (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle), a 15 minute animated series about a team of government agents who work to protect San Diego from terrorism of various sorts, and The Heart, She Holler, a live action series premiering this fall and produced by comedians Patton Oswalt and Heather Lawless. Adult Swim will also be bringing back a number of successful series, including Aqua Unit Patrol Squad (the series that was previously called Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and Robot Chicken.
It was clear, both from the bacchanalian feel and short duration of the presentation (which lasted around five minutes in total), that the main focus of the night was yet to come.
Jay-Z took the stage at around midnight. Before the show, some could be heard speculating that he would only perform a handful of songs. But it was a complete set with full band, DJ Swizz Beats on the tables, and Memphis Bleak backing Jay-Z up on stage. “99 Problems,” “Dirt of Your Shoulder,” and “Empire State of Mind” were all in the offing, and the crowd ate it up.
It was all quite a get, even for Adult Swim, which is known for its good upfront events. But there was, of course, a reason for Jay’s performance. As Adweek reported yesterday, the artist has signed a development deal with the network. Though an announcement about the new partnership was expected at or just before the upfront yesterday, there was nothing of the sort. Just one hell of a party.
May 19, 2011, 12:03 PM EDT
Security extremely tight at the Roseland Ballroom. With the exception of the open bar and appetizers floating around, feels more pre-show than pre-upfront.
Filling up now, two gigantic owls (the mascot of adult swim) stand on either side of the stage with laser lights coming out of their eyes (if the decor sounds drug induced it's perhaps a subtle nod to one of adult swim's markets).
Apparently Jay-Z is doing a full hour set with full band.
May 18, 2011, 10:02 PM EDT
Jay-Z on Wednesday evening will announce a development deal with Adult Swim, one that is likely to involve an original animated series.
Sources at Turner confirmed a partnership, although details remain scant. The multiplatinum hip-hop artist and entrepreneur is scheduled to perform tonight at Adult Swim’s upfront soiree, which kicks off at 9 p.m. at New York’s Roseland Ballroom.
While the network enjoys a certain cachet with rappers—in 2006, Danger Mouse and MF Doom dropped The Mouse and the Mask, an LP replete with vocal cameos from Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Meatwad and Master Shake—Jay-Z represents a whole new level of engagement with the hip-hop universe. (For one, his net worth is estimated at around $450 million.)
May 18, 2011, 6:51 PM EDT
Koonin Electric as Turner Suffers Upfront Blackout Entertainment chief’s jokes keep fannies in seats
A power surge at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom Wednesday morning threatened to put the kibosh on Turner’s upfront presentation, but a quick-thinking programming executive saved the day.
Moments after Conan O’Brien wrapped an affectionate skewering of TBS, the auditorium was plunged into darkness. After a few minutes of fumbling in the dark failed to reignite the screen, Turner entertainment president Steve Koonin took the stage, stitching what amounted to an improvised stand-up bit.
“My name is Steve Koonin, formerly of Turner Broadcasting,” he said, drawing an appreciative roar from the crowd of media buyers. Warning his audience that he had no idea when power might be restored, Koonin issued some sage survival advice. “I would ration your pastries,” he cracked.
As Koonin waited for word on the electrical situation, he really hit his stride. “By the way, our pricing is not changing because of this,” he said, adding that Turner’s expenses are likely to decrease as a result of the snafu, “if you know what I mean.”
When the teleprompter briefly flickered to life, Koonin asked if there were a defibrillator on the premises. “Given our technical progress, they’re probably using it to make grilled cheese sandwiches back there,” he quipped.
May 18, 2011, 5:52 PM EDT
CBS, the most-watched network, will introduce five new shows this fall (three dramas, two sitcoms), with changes impacting every evening of the week.
All three members of the CSI franchise, surprisingly, made the cut, but granddaddy CSI, which heads into season 12, shifts to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (in place of canceled Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior). Also relocating to a new night is Emmy favorite The Good Wife, which moves to Sundays at 9 p.m. (in place of Undercover Boss, which returns in midseason), and, oddly, returning comedy Rules of Engagement, which will anchor Saturday at 8 p.m. Leading out of Rules of Engagement will be sitcom repeats. After years with no network willing to take a risk on Saturday, consider unfortunately doomed Rules a step in the right direction.
May 18, 2011, 9:41 AM EDT
As guests left the Telemundo upfront last night at the Museum of Natural History (the first upfront the network held in three years), they were handed shirts in packages with the words “Be Part of The Shift” printed on the front, as parting gifts. That pretty much encapsulated the main talking point of the evening. “We are at the leading edge of the most important demographic shift in modern media history,” said Lauren Zalaznick, head of NBCUniversal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media.
Zalaznick pointed out that the Hispanic market tops 1 trillion dollars in the U.S. And yet as the demographic tide has shifted, the American networks have been slow to adapt. It was only this past April that NBCU launched its "Hispanics at NBCU" marketing campaign, for example.
The evening presentation reinforced the message that the NBCU now "gets" the Hispanic audience. Telemundo unveiled a raft of new programs, including four telenovellas (which have traditionally been the bread and butter of Telemundo’s scripted programming). These include Amore de Pelicula (Love . . . Just Like in the Movies), a romance about a love-struck couple from different backgrounds fighting to overcome workplace and romantic challenges in their efforts to be together; and Una Maid en Manhattan (A Maid in Manhattan), a series based loosely on the premise of the 2002 movie of same name that starred Jennifer Lopez.
May 18, 2011, 7:40 AM EDT
Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday evening trotted out his now-familiar shtick for media buyers, taking jabs at home network ABC with a monologue that neatly skewered the very underpinnings of broadcast TV.
Noting that Kimmel’s “barbs were particularly sharp,” one blogger reported that the comic mocked the crowd and his superiors when he accused them all of having rather short memories. “Remember all those shows we were so excited about last fall? We canceled all of them,” Kimmel cracked. “And yet here you all are. I think you may have a gambling problem.”
Kimmel’s right on the money—after all, ABC just canceled a raft of freshmen series, including V, No Ordinary Family, Off the Map, Mr. Sunshine and Detroit 1-8-7. And naturally, these shows were well hyped during last year’s upfront event. That’s sort of the point of these exercises.
But to suggest that Kimmel’s bosses weren’t in on the fun, that they hadn’t vetted the script before he addressed the SRO crowd at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, is nothing short of preposterous. That’s the deal with Kimmel: He’s been lampooning ABC since he did a few minutes of stand-up during the network’s 2005-06 upfront.
May 17, 2011, 6:50 PM EDT
Seth Meyers on Tuesday made his second upfront appearance in as many days, taking the stage at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square to lend a comic touch to ESPN’s presentation.
The head writer of Saturday Night Live and anchor of the show’s “Weekend Update” segment, Meyers followed his time on the NBC dais with a few bits for his part-time employer. (The comedian first hosted the ESPY Awards in 2010.)
Lifting a bit from last summer’s ESPYs gig, Meyers cracked that ESPN “is where sports and entertainment come together. It’s like a Kardashian sister’s bedroom.”
The Red Sox fanatic also got a big laugh when he begged his audience to keep his latest upfront gig a secret from his bosses at 30 Rock. “Don’t tell the NBC brass I’m here,” he said, before adding, “I can’t believe ESPN even has an upfront. I thought they just said, ‘Hey, Nike, Gatorade? You good this year?’”
Meyers wasn’t the only one to make with the funny. ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne did a fine job of playing the Ugly American abroad in a clip from his upcoming refresh of an old ABC standby. The six-part digital series, Kenny Mayne’s Wider World of Sports, bows in the fall; in each installment, the 17-year ESPN veteran takes to the road as “an ambassador of American sport.”
May 17, 2011, 1:54 PM EDT
Mirroring NBC, ABC will expand to a second night of comedies, with new Tuesday scripted half-hours Last Man Standing and Man Up leading into the returns of the live Dancing With the Stars Results Show and sophomore crime solver Body of Proof.
In total, ABC will add seven new series this fall (three comedies, four dramas), with changes impacting five nights of the week. Monday’s combination of Dancing With the Stars and Castle and Saturday Night College Football will remain intact.
“We had two goals in mind when we set up our lineup: stability for returning hits and real ambition for the new shows,” said Paul Lee, president, ABC Entertainment Group. “But we are just as ambitious in midseason as we are in the fall and recognize this is a 52-week business.”
As rumored, recent low-rated comedy Happy Endings made the cut, inheriting the Wednesday 9:30 p.m. half-hour out of Modern Family (and in place of Cougar Town, which returns in midseason). The Middle will remain the Wednesday 8 p.m. anchor, leading into new sitcom Suburgatory. At 10 p.m., drama Revenge inherits the perennially troubled time period, which housed two failed dramas this past season: The Whole Truth and Off the Map. Also like NBC, ABC has wisely trimmed back its current three-hour midweek comedy block to two.
The much talked about revival of Charlie’s Angels will open Thursday, leading into the return combination of Grey’s Anatomy and spin-off Private Practice. Veteran Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which lost noticeable steam this season, moves into the Friday 8 p.m. time period, followed by relocated Shark Tank and long-running newsmagazine 20/20.
May 17, 2011, 9:55 AM EDT
The Upfronts: News, reporting, and analysis on the TV marketplace. And for more on the upfronts, follow Adweek reporters D.M. Levine (@DMLevine), Anthony Crupi (@crupicrupicrupi), Marc Berman (@MarcBerman), executive editor James Cooper (@Jcoopernyc), and editorial director Michael Wolff (@MichaelWolffnyc) on Twitter.