TV Upfronts: THR Live-Blogs Fox's Presentation
Get minute-to-minute updates from our staff inside the Beacon Theatre as network honcho Kevin Reilly sells his new schedule to advertisers.
After announcing its 2014-15 schedule and talking to reporters during an early Monday conference call, Fox took its turn presenting its lineup to Madison Avenue ad buyers during an afternoon presentation at the Beacon Theatre.
The Hollywood Reporter's TV Team is inside the Beacon Theatre in New York and brings you all the action as entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly pitches his year-round slate to advertisers. Refresh for all the latest insights. (Check out NBC's live-blog here.)
4 p.m. -- Hours after announcing he'd be fronting Fox's New Year's Eve event, Pitbull takes the stage to kick off the Fox upfront with some of his catchy hits. He is joined by a cadre of backup dancers, who appear to have significantly more energy than anyone else in the Beacon Theatre.
4:12 -- Reilly trots out to, you guessed it, Pitbull's "Timber." He quickly moves to his key messaging. First, Fox may have lost the 18-49 crown to NBC, but -- BUT -- it is "America's next-generation network," which is to say it's younger than its rivals. Second, Fox will be "redefining the network experience," which is shorthand for doing away with pilot season and embracing a year-round schedule. And, finally, Fox will be -- yes, this again -- "eventizing" its slate.
4:13 -- The exec says he's going to take us through "a packed hour." Hear that, other networks? An hour. He goes straight to promoting Grease Live and the insane live Jump of the Century in Snake River Canyon. Event programming is the watchword.
4:16 -- We're into unscripted now, with Reilly touting returning hit MasterChef Junior -- already renewed for a third season before its sophomore run bows -- as well as high-concept Utopia. In a clip, Utopia's John de Mol calls the show -- on in the fall for two hours a week -- as the "most purest form of reality that I can remember." Reilly touts opportunities for product integration. (Is there Pepsi in Utopia?)
4:19 -- On to the event series. The crowd that will pad the network's wallet gets a glimpse at Gracepoint, which played much like the U.K. hit on which it is based. (Earlier in the day, Reilly revealed that Fox's version will have a different ending -- and that it would be just as good.) Chad Hodge and M. Night Shyamalan's Wayward Pines airs next, with star Matt Dillon in nearly every shot.
4:23 -- Gracepoint, a remake of Broadchurch with David Tennant, is "really special," Reilly says. The Gracepoint clip seems reminiscent of The Killing. They better solve this one in the 10 episodes.
4:26 -- Wayward Pines could help resuscitate Shyamalan. The clips are sort of baffling. Is it, as Reilly billed it, Twin Peaks-ish? Hard to say. But yes -- Reilly promises "the mysteries conclude in 10 episodes." And says both series are addictive.
4:27 -- Pushing the "events" theme still more, Reilly begins plugging Fox's sports programming, which includes NASCAR, pro and college football and baseball throughout the year. After a clip plays, Fox Sports president Eric Shanks comes out to tout a bigger, younger and more affluent audience that his sports fare has delivered of late. The brand's value, he says, breaks down into three R's: reach, resonance and reaction. "Rrr," he says to audible sighs, which he shrewdly follows with: "I didn't write that."
4:36 -- Comedy time. Reilly starts with Golden Globe winner Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which he tells the deep-pocketed audience is the place to reach young, smart viewers. No mention of the critically praised show's ratings, of course. Brooklyn's Andy Samberg appears onstage following a clip, joking: "Who's ready to pretend we're not all here by the invisible hand called capitalism?!"
4:40 -- Samberg, the upfront roaster. Much as Seth Meyers did earlier in the day at NBC and Jimmy Kimmel will do at ABC on Tuesday, the Brooklyn star takes jabs at network rivals CBS and ABC -- and himself. Recognizing that this crowd has already seen Jimmy Fallon and Meyers, Samberg apologizes for this being the third consecutive almost-handsome former Saturday Night Live star of the day. "SNL," he jokes, "cranking out almost-handsome white dudes for 40 years."
4:45 -- Samberg has a rough go of it before earning a few laughs at CBS and ABC's expense: "CBS has a very diverse lineup that includes CSI: Legoland," and so on. We've now moved on to clips from the upcoming John Mulaney comedy. It looks like it wants to be Seinfeld, but that's not a desirable comparison. And Reilly returns to say, "I think we've got the makings of a Seinfeld for a new generation." Do. Not. Go. There.
4:49 -- Reilly introduces Toby Byrne, president of ad sales, as Fox's very own "Pitbull." Charts appear behind him, and the hard sell begins. Online viewing is growing! VOD is an opportunity and we all need to be there! And Fox is younger than the competition, damn it! (Among the visuals: median ages, which show that Fox is the only network where the median viewer falls within the coveted 18-49 demo. Fox's median age is 47, compared with 52, 53 and 57 at NBC, ABC and CBS, respectively.)
4:54 -- Byrne cites a lot of stats and urges a serious conversation about C7. That conversation may be serious but very brief. Nyet.
4:55 -- Sleepy Hollow stars -- and yes, this includes the headless horseman -- saunter out to thank the room for spending on their show and others. There are a few quips made about how quiet the horseman is, which fall flat. Poof, said stars disappear. Time for the new dramas.
5:00 -- Reilly cites a "successful drama core" but says Fox is adding five new dramas -- two for the fall: the adaptation of Red Band Society and Batman prequel Gotham. Clips from the former show Olivia Spencer as a nurse whose coffee cup reads "scary bitch." Heart of gold though, right? A bunch of very sick kids may make for tough viewing even if Fault in Our Stars is a megahit. The highly anticipated Gotham looks like it might really work for the fanboys and fangirls. The crowd seems to agree. And Reilly says the first promo has already gotten more than 6.5 million views in just under a week.
5:05 -- "Glamour. Power. Danger. Sex." That's how Reilly sells Empire, the hip-hop family drama from Lee Daniels. Before the theater gets that clip, Reilly rolls out trailers for Hieroglyph (looks a lot like The Tudors set in Egypt ... with a vampire?) and Backstrom (think House as a detective).
5:10 -- The Empire trailer plays, showing off its hefty talent roster and an enviably diverse cast. It garners decent applause, though noticeably less than that of Gotham.
5:13 -- Reilly bids farewell with a new song from Empire. Noticeably absent from Reilly's presentation: mention of American Idol (outside of a quick note that it would be paired with Empire in the spring). Could Fox be as tired of the one-time juggernaut as much of America seems to be? Also glaringly absent: musical Glee, which for the first time is benched for midseason after a string of series lows this year.
5:14 -- It's time to wrap it up. An hour. Bravo! However the shows fare, Fox can do a tight presentation.
Stay tuned to THR for more coverage from the Upfronts.
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