May 15, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem


The week of network scheduling is all a build-up to each network’s Upfront presentation to advertisers, a show that’s as slickly entertaining as the network knows how to make it.  There are production numbers and stunts, surprise celebrity appearances and clever pre-taped mini-movies.  ABC, over the last few years, has had Jimmy Kimmel do brutally funny stand-up bits, ridiculing his own network and their shows and impressing the industry with the network’s willingness to poke fun at itself.  (In the recent past, when Conan O’Brien was still at NBC, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was even more savage.)  All the stars of the new shows, and many marquee names from those returning, parade across the stage to introduce super-promos that deftly emphasize everything that’s compelling about their show. 

All this hoopla is complicated by the fact that the Upfront show has to be put together while the schedule itself is still being assembled.  The network’s Entertainment Division President or some other very senior executive is usually the host and ringmaster, which means he or she has to be available for rehearsals, even while taking part in the meetings that determine what shows will be featured.  A script needs to be written:  is the network’s schedule being presented night by night, or are the new shows so impressive that they’ll be showcased in a single block?  Sometimes the network is so thrilled by a particular pilot that rather than showing an extended promo, the entire pilot is presented.  (Sometimes that pilot is Joey.)  
Stars have to be flown in from LA and other locations, and they have to be as happy as reasonable (and sometimes unreasonable) efforts can make them.  High-profile hit music has to be chosen, both for use in those super-promos and often for performances at the Upfront itself.  (Those Glee people have to sing something.) 
And afterwards, it’s still not over–there are expensive parties where the stars mingle with advertisers and station owners, earning their paychecks.  And, if ShowbuzzDaily’s experience is any guide, just about everyone who’s been a part of the process has a drink.  Or maybe a few drinks.  One advantage of staging the Upfronts in New York… you don’t have to drive home.
Stay with SHOWBUZZDAILY all next week, as we give you the smartest and most informed analysis of the network schedules as they’re announced.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."