ABC has the hottest broadcast drama series at the moment, Scandal, and the network didn’t waste any time to flaunt it to advertisers. ABC’s upfront presentation opened with a pre-taped skit featuring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope summoned to the Oval Office to do damage control for Disney-ABC Group president Anne Sweeney and her henchman, played by Jimmy Kimmel. The skeletons in ABC’s closet:
2. [ABC president] “Paul Lee isn’t really British – he’s Mexican. We think that’s why Univision is beating NBC”. (Kimmel)
3. “ABC Family is adopted” (Kimmel)
4. “I steal Diane Sawyer’s clothes… and eyelashes”. (Sweeney).
Pope’s advice — “Own it; go out there and admit everything” is met with objections from Kimmel. “I think we lie about everything except Good Morning America,” he says. And with that, Sweeney comes out onstage, greeted with scorning gestured by Sawyer. The highlight in her opening remarks is when she acknowledged Barbara Walters and her announcement yesterday that she will retire next year. A huge standing ovation brought down the house. Sweeney continued with the Scandal theme with a “gladiators” reference in her speech.
Related: ABC 2013-14 Schedule
“Hola,” Lee greets advertisers, drawing laughs. He is elaborating on the plan to introduce 8- to 12-episode limited series and splitting some of its serialized dramas into cycles running all originals from September to Christmas and then in the new year. “That will create buzz and lower repeats,” Lee said, also highlighting the switch to launches throughout the year to get away from the “September slugfest.”
Related: ABC New Series Trailers
Of the new ABC series, a supersized trailer for 1980s throwback The Goldbergs gets a very warm reaction as it plays heavily (and sweetly) on nostalgia. Also getting big laughs is the Bad News Bears-in-tone Back In The Game.
Hot Aussie comedian Rebel Wilson was on hand to introduce her new Wednesday comedy series Super Fun Night, which launches after Modern Family. The audience loved her raunchy monologue, which included lines like “Super Fun Night is the anti-Sex And The City: when these three ladies eat at night, they’re not talking about dick”, and “Don’t worry, I won’t be doing a Lena Dunham. I’ll only put my boobs out if it’s necessary for the storyline… or a Wednesday.” She received a big applause, with the trailer for her show also getting good reaction sans her American accent, which irked some. “Isn’t she great,” Brit Lee said seeing her off. “I have no idea why my ancestors sent her ancestors to prison.”
Of the new series, Resurrection, which will replace Betrayal in midseason, seems to be tugging on the audiences’ heartstrings with the theme of dead people returning to their love ones.
The cast of Scandal comes out on stage to tease the series’ season finale Thursday and give Lee another opportunity to talk about the show’s success.
No matter if the new shows ABC presents are good or bad, the best thing in network’s presentation always is Kimmel. He didn’t disappoint, skewering advertisers, ABC and the other networks alike. (for his full monologue, click here). A few highlights:
To advertisers: “It’s time to stop calling this an upfront and call it what it is: throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks… You’re the wall”.
“NBC is on a roll. Wait, no, not a roll. A what’s it called… A spiral”.
“Every time you cancel one Matthew Perry show, three more rise up to take its place”.
Kimmel’s jokes about CBS’ older viewership “will not be over until my grandmother throws away her Mentalist hemorrhoid donut.”
Closing off the presentation, a rare appearance of a new ABC show cast: Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., led by creator/exec producer Joss Whedon. “What I loved about The Avengers is the S.H.I.E.L.D.,” he said, before the trailer for the show rolls.