Upfronts Winners & Losers
J.J. scores while Fox comedies die young as THR evaluates the network presentations.
The annual upfronts ritual produces high drama for TV players. Some impress the ad buyers and press; others, as Donald Trump would say, are fired. Below is The Hollywood Reporter's rundown of who fared best and worst:
The uber-producer went into pilot season with a bruised TV image thanks to poor performers like NBC's short-lived Undercovers; he came out with two new shows on the air: CBS' Person of Interest and Fox's crime drama Alcatraz, which join his other drama Fringe. Some suggest Fox wasn't completely sold on Alcatraz but picked it up to avoid upsetting Abrams -- which only proves his power.
NBC might still be a loser, at least for awhile, but Greenblatt got high marks for his first presentation. With such pickups as the risque Playboy Club and the mysterious Awake, he's got one foot in the cable world, where the former Showtime topper thrived. Big servings of reality competitions (two hours of The Sing-Off?) suggest the other foot is stepping into populist territory. Plus, talent loves him, as was evident at NBC's post-presentation luncheon May 16. So even if the fall shows don't work, NBC has a ton of goodwill for a change.
The "It" genre once again. Every network wants to establish a new comedy block. By the looks of the preview clips, many will fail, but networks covet these shows, which repeat better than dramas and offer the potential for syndication riches.
Move over, Chelsea Handler. It was Cummings' NBC pilot that garnered big laughs during the network's presentation and earned the prized post-Office time slot. She's also a co-executive producer on Two Broke Girls, a CBS comedy.
Poised to be No. 1 again in the coveted 18-49 demo, its presentation was a daunting display of might, starting with its parade of stars, including the cast of Glee, and ending with performers from So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol -- with Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul in between. With Fox launching The X Factor in the fall and Idol in January, it not only has launchpads for new shows but could also have two ratings death stars.
No. 1 in overall viewers (again) and facing no real challengers. While SNL's Seth Meyers joked at the NBC upfront that the retiring Larry King, Regis Philbin and Jim Lehrer will add three new viewers for CBS, the Eye doesn't actually need them --unlike Meyers' network.
Some thought new management at NBC might fire the network's reality chief if he didn't come up with a hit this season. At its upfront presentation, Greenblatt invoked The Voice so many times that one network executive joked that he took a drink every time the brass mentioned the show's name and ended up "shitfaced." Bonus: Telegdy now doesn't have to find a replacement for Trump on The Celebrity Apprentice. (Ask the folks at CBS: Replacing a big TV star can be a headache.)
He looked like a grump as he muttered that he was giving up his presidential bid so his Celebrity Apprentice could go on raising money for charity. NBC had already made it clear it was prepared to fill his chair on the show if he kept up the charade -- er, campaign.
Fox Bubble Shows
Such well-received series as Breaking In and The Chicago Code probably would have survived on a less well-lubricated network but got tossed on Fox. Right, Shawn Ryan?
Greenblatt gets a pass, but some network executives acknowledged that the room remained cool to most of his new offerings. Maybe it was the drab hotel-ballroom setting. When Fox took the New Beacon Theatre stage and began rolling out its stars in the afternoon, it was clear just how daunting a task Comcast faces in rebuilding the network.
With speculation about how much running room Disney's Anne Sweeney is giving new entertainment chief Paul Lee, there's been rumbling about slow and cautious decision-making at ABC. Lee is also inevitably going to face comparisons with NBC's cool kid, Greenblatt. Although NBC has provided a diversion in recent years, ABC has a lot of rebuilding to do, especially with dramas, and not many solid platforms on which to launch new shows (outside of Dancing With the Stars).
America's Most Wanted
Fox gave the crime-fighting show the ax after 23 years, cutting it from a weekly series to four specials per year. Worse, entertainment president Kevin Reilly told reporters that it hasn't made money in some time. "It wasn't particularly viable," he said of the series. Ouch.