In announcing its drama-series pickups days in advance of its Monday new-schedule unveiling to advertisers, Fox finally got the last laugh on NBC. For the past several years, the two networks have announced their schedules to advertisers on Monday — NBC in the morning and Fox in the afternoon. And, for years, NBC gave its new schedule to the press on Sunday afternoon to make sure it — and not Fox — got the Monday headlines.
That’s all part of the scene at Broadcast Upfront Week, where — after each presentation — station and ad execs are carted off to parties, to dine on dubious sushi platters, drink exotic new cocktails that taste like vodka-soaked gym socks, and ogle Hollywood starlets who’ve been flown in because they’ve been cast in the new shows. Meanwhile, the boys’ club behind the new shows is off in some Male Progeny of Old Hollywood Bigwigs bunker, issuing carefully crafted “off-the-cuff” tweets about the new-show pickups — tweets that will be gobbled up and regurgitated in blogs and articles by the media herd that’s come to town to cover the week.
More from Lisa de Moraes
Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites.
It’s with some trepidation that all the broadcast networks are heading into Upfront Week. The broadcast nets have had, to varying degrees, the ratings stuffing pounded out of them. Without a single new hit to point to from this TV season, they’re all feeling the pressure to crack one out of the park this fall.
They’ll tell you they swung for the fences during this pilot-development season.
And I’m the Queen of Freedonia.
The Reporters Who Cover Television drank especially deeply of this Kool-Aid so far this year, writing breathlessly about the new trends for next season: conspiracy dramas, morally ambiguous heroes, the daring casting of such big-name stars as Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox and Eddie Murphy, the daring exhumation of Wonder Woman and “Have Gun Will Travel.”
The Reporters have marveled at how single chicks are sizzling hot for next season, and how The Boys’ Club That Produces The Series are trying something really different this time: creating shows about that which its members know best — themselves!
This is also the Year of the Black Friend, report execs. In this year’s crop of pilots, “black friend” is the new “gay.”
CBS — which is set to unveil its schedule Wednesday at Carnegie Hall — is the prettiest dress in the shop this year: It is on the verge of finishing the current TV season in first place among younger viewers, who are the BeDazzled unicorns of Madison Avenue.
It’s the first time that CBS — often dismissed as the old-fogey network — has finished first among 18-to-49-year-olds since the 1991-92 TV season. Not coincidentally, Fox sank to second place in the age bracket, learning the hard way what happens when you cast brain-dead popster Britney Spears as the star of a competition series that consumes three hours of your prime-time schedule in the fall, and then follow that with the casting of polarizing Nicki Minaj on your competition series that props up three hours of your prime-time schedule in the spring.