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.