Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Network Upfronts: A (P)review.

Next week is my favorite time of the year: the TV upfronts.

Since I work for a company that owns TV stations, I get to go to some of them. This year, I am definitely going to CBS's upfront on May 19, and there is a possibility of the CW's on May 20.

I have been to CBS three years in a row, and they always put on a good show. Last year, we saw Neil Patrick Harris and LL Cool J. I think Simon Baker came on stage, too. He's hot--I can see why CBS gave him a show. I think at some point, a person's hotness is so overwhelming, it doesn't matter if they can act or not, but if they can, that's icing on the cake. That's Simon Baker. One year, they trotted out Alex O'Loughlin and let the audience moon over him (get it? moon? as in Moonlight?). Last year, they told us about Undercover Boss, which had the whole audience sobbing. I always like the CBS upfronts, because they treat us so well. It really feels like an event.

I went to NBC's upfront a few years ago. My boss and I had terrible seats, all the way in the back. The upfront was mostly forgettable. I vaguely recall them talking about this new show Chuck. It was the only one I liked out of the 5 or 6 new shows they had that year. That was also the year they introduced that show with the cop who ate fruit. (Life. I just Googled it.) Another show they introduced was Journeyman. I'm not bothering to Google that one.

The CW. I have never been to their upfronts, but I did go to one of their events a few years ago. One of the sponsors (which shall go unnamed) gave us a bunch of goodies, one of which was a thing that shall also go unnamed, and I sold it on eBay for $300. That was awesome. I don't remember anything else from that event other than the room was very cold. I'm excited to (possibly) go to my first CW upfront this year. I love their programming.

ABC. For some reason, they haven't invited us to their upfront in years, at least not since I've been here. The closest they let me get was watching a live feed of the upfront at ABC headquarters a few blocks away from Lincoln Center, where the event was. They set us up in a conference room with a little TV in the corner up by the ceiling. I remember that was the year of Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, Big Shots, and Cavemen. A terrible year for new shows on ABC, as you can tell. The only one that made it out alive was Private Practice. I fell in love with Pushing Daisies from the get-go. R.I.P. Pushing Daisies. After that year, ABC decided we should just watch the upfronts at our own offices in our own conference rooms. Next year, I anticipate ABC will just send us a link to their website telling us about their shows. I keed, I keed, ABC! You know I love you.

The only upfront we never get to go to is Fox, because my company does not own any Fox affiliates. Which totally sucks monkey balls, because I bet the Fox upfronts are awesome. I mean, if tame, safe, older-skewing CBS can knock my socks off each year, I can only imagine what Fox does. Does Jack Bauer come out and kill the entire first row? Who knows!

My favorite thing about these upfronts is finding out which TV pilots made the cut. It's also fun to see how the networks schedule their shows around each other. Everyone likes to think they are the network to beat. Except for NBC. They're just trying not to be in 4th place every year.

Next week, I'll be posting my thoughts on the upfronts. Right now, my predictions: CBS will keep its lineup mostly intact (if it ain't broke...), ABC will add a ton of comedy (to try to expand on its Wednesday night success story), NBC will unleash a bazillion new shows and see what sticks, Fox will try to convince us to watch The Good Guys, really, it'll be great, and American Idol will be fine without Simon Cowell, really, it will be, and The CW will brag about Life Unexpected while pretending Melrose Place never existed.

(Pictured: Simon Baker at last year's CBS upfront. Yum.)

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