In its first upfront event during the traditional broadcast upfront week, USA Network kept it casual, with a party vibe — cocktails on the way in, a music performance to start, a whole music set to close the presentation, which was followed by more drinks, and no executives taking the stage. Instead, the network kept its tradition of having the stars of its series present the new shows and talk up its ratings performance.
The network also made some news, with WWE star John Cena announcing that, starting with WWE Monday Night Raw‘s 1000th episode on July 23, the show will permanently expand to three hours.
The USA actors kept the proceedings mostly entertaining, with some deviating from the script. (Bruce Campbell!) Talking about USA’s streak of finishing six consecutive years as the No.1 basic cable network, Suits‘ Gabriel Macht called the network “the Harvey Specter of television,” after his ruthless-but-always-winning character on the show.
Psych‘s James Roday and Dule Hill were assigned to talk about USA shows’ social media presence. “The technology has been able to put the watercooler in people’s hands, which sounds heavy and highly impractical,” Roday quipped. The two introduced Cena whose speech provided one of several spontaneous moments during the event. Talking about the 1000th episode milestone for WWE Raw, he turned to Roday and Hill and said, “That’s 800 more episodes than…Burn Notice,” for which he was heckled by Notice co-star Bruce Campbell, sitting in the audience.
Campbell took the stage last, his bow tie untied and dress shirt unbuttoned. He heavily improvised, with such lines as “we need to do some green rooming” now that Sigourney Weaver is on a USA show, the upcoming series Political Animals, and warning her that actors often “get screwed” on the network at first.
In addition to giving first glimpse at Greg Berlanti’s Political Animals, USA also touted the 2013 arrival of off-network comedy Modern Family. In a video taped in front of the Jay and Gloria Pritchett’s house on the show, Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan talked about the launch. “I think Modern Family will be a perfect fit with the USA’s lineup of original series,” he said, at what time Ed O’Neill as Jay came out the door and told him,”Get the fuck out of my driveway.”