CBS this afternoon will take to Carnegie Hall to explain why it’s yanking comedy out of its Monday 8 PM hour for the first time since 1949 (answer: Supergirl), and why it’s holding back five returning series for midseason including 2 Broke Girls for the first time in that show’s history (answer: Supergirl). Also, the network is going to officially unveil Stephen Colbert and his new late night show.
Here’s how it played out:
1 PM PT: Mayim Bialik, aka The Big Bang Theory’s Amy Fowler, PhD, welcomes media buyers and is translated into English by CBS sales chief Jo Ann Ross. There is a transfer of the tiara, and the CBS Upfront presentation begins in earnest.
1:10 PM: Stephen Colbert is seen via video, going back to his office after his final time playing a conservative gasbag anchoring faux news show for Comedy Central. He prepares to take a trip to India to discover who he really is, having promised he will not play said bloviating faux anchor when he takes over CBS’s Late Show from retiring David Letterman. But, before he gets out the door, he gets sucked into watching CBS on his office TV set. “What?! There’s a CSI: Cyber Now?!” Months later, CBS CEO Les Moonves comes to his office to drag him over to Carnegie Hall for CBS’s Upfront presentation. “But I don’t know who the real Stephen Colbert is,” Colbert tells Les. “You’re a white male comedian with a nice haircut and suit,” Les says, cutting to the chase. “Oh! I’m a talk show host!” Colbert marvels.
End of video.
Actual Colbert dances out onto the Carnegie Hall stage:
“Good evening, hello and good afternoon,” Colbert tells media buyers and press watching live or via livestream from timezones further west. “I’m Stephen and this is my first official appearance as host of The Late Show With Starring Stephen Colbert. He suggests to media buyers they all get to know one another. I’m Stephen…and I like anything crispy, fatty, salty or sweet. Does anyone here sell any products like that?”
To pay tribute to David Letterman, who built Late Show show from scratch at CBS, Colbert promises to do the best show possible as its new host, “and occasionally make the network angry.”
“A lot of people have been asking ‘Who is Stephen Colbert?’ Mostly my wife. But I love you … I want to say Denise?,” Colbert continues. “If someone could Google that, it would be great, before I get home.”
He explains his version of Late Show will be another iteration of CBS’s prolific CSI franchise, “because most of my show will be me solving murders by zooming in on pubic hairs.” That said, he described mulling assuming other personalities for his new hosting gig, including Kim Kardashian’s.
“I know what you want, you want young eyeballs, and not just the kind Rupert Murdoch buys on the black market,” Colbert assures advertisers in the hall. When that gag does not play so well, he wonders how many people in the audience are Murdoch’s black-market young eyeball dealers. “Let me assure you, the younglings love me,” he says, trying another approach.
“Will Stephen Colbert do inclusive sponsorship?” he asks. “Yes, but only in rare instances. Young people trust me because of my integrity – brought to you by Old El Paso Seasoning. Old El Paso: You can really taste the Old.”
Colbert tries to hand Moonves his new-employee urine test. Moonves says it’s not necessary. “Good, because it’s not mine,” Colbert says, adding, “Thank for doing me a solid, Charlie Rose!”
1:20 AM: Leslie Moonves walks media buyers through CBS’s season successes and, once again, swats at “old folks network” cracks about the network, noting his network trailed this season’s frontrunner in the demo by a small margin. It doesn’t matter what Les says: Jimmy Kimmel will continue to snark about it at ABC’s Upfront presentation the afternoon before CBS’s Upfront presentation, and reporters will continue to write glowingly about Kimmel’s hilarious ABC Upfront Seventh Inning Stretch, which will continue to get under the skin of CBS execs, in a sort of Upfront Week Circle of Life. Moonves moves on, paying tribute to outgoing Sunday Beltway show host Bob Schieffer, who is retiring at the end of the month, leaving Face The Nation in first place, audience-wise, in that genre.
1:35 PM: Eight Super Bowl MVP’s are trotted out on stage, by way of reminding media buyers CBS has next season’s Super Bowl. “How cool is that? Eight Super Bowl MVP’s?” Les Moonves marvels. Added 62 more original hours of programming this concluding TV seasons.
1:37 PM: Moonves notes CBS added 62 more original hours of programming this TV season. “This is the network with the most stable and consistent schedule, and team that has unmatched” experience, he proudly boasts.
1:40 PM: CBS programming chief Nina Tassler continues in that vein, bragging CBS has No. 1 scripted comedy and scripted show on TV: The Big Bang Theory, the most watched drama in NCIS, the most watched new show, NCIS: New Orleans, the No. 1 newsmag. “We are the most watched network on six of seven nights,” Tassler says, pitching CBS as “the single best environment to launch new shows.”
1:45 PM: Tassler introduces a clip package for new Monday multi-generational comedy, Life in Pieces which advertisers seem to like, based on applause in the hall. It only airs on Mondays until November, when Supergirl takes over the 8 PM hour and Life moves to Thursday, which will mark the first time CBS hasn’t had any comedy on Monday since 1949, reporters were told by CBS execs this morning. Tassler next introduces the Supergirl clip, which includes a disturbingly long sequence in which Supergirl angst’s over her superhero “uniform,” juxtaposed with lines like, “I didn’t travel 2,000 light years just to be someone’s assistant.” Advertisers gobble it up.
1:55 PM: Nina Tassler takes a moment to remind media buyers new Late Late Show host James Corden already has stripped to his undies with David Beckham, done an entire episode from the home of a stranger, introduced us to Carpool Karaoke with Mariah Carey and Jennifer Hudson, and recapped Tom Hank’s career in six minutes.
1:58 PM: “We’ve only done 26 episodes,” new-ish CBS host Corden reminds advertisers. “I feel an immense sense of pride for the show we’ve got so far.” He warns us he’s shooting a Carpool Karaoke with Justin Bieber. Corden says working with Moonves, Tassler and David Stapf has “surpassed my wildest dreams” despite not getting “the role of Supergirl. And that still hurts. I don’t know where you are, but I know what you did to get that role and it’s disgusting,” he says. “Yeah, and Nina loved it, but….” Corden concludes with “thank you for listening to the ramblings of an idiot.”
2:09 PM: Jane Lynch stars in new Thursday comedy Angel from Hell, as an angel with a tendency to day drink. Advertisers react warmly to that clip too. Ditto new drama Limitless, about which Tassler stressed its Bradley Cooper-ness (Cooper’s exec produces, will recur on the show, guested in the pilot and was prominently featured in the clip package shown to media buyers).
2:14 PM: NBC’s ER revolutionized the medical drama genre, and Tassler reminds media buyers she and Les Moonves developed that series as she introduces a clip for CBS’s medical drama for Wednesday nights, Code Black. Very big applause in the hall.
2:23 PM: Tassler announces new Rush Hour and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, waiting in the wings, along with returning Mike & Molly, The Odd Couple, 2 Broke Girls and Person of Interest. “Imagine the strength of the CBS schedule that we have these great shows” on the bench, Tassler says. She then begins the tradititional CBS night-by-night walk through the week, scheduling-wise.
2:28 PM: The first Sunday of the 2015-16 TV season CBS will air the two-hour series finale of the original CSI, for which original cast members Marg Helgenberger and William Peterson will return, while Ted Danson is moving to CSI: Cyber. “How do you say goodbye to a show that made television history? Tassler asks, rhetorically, of CSI. “It was the No. 1 show on television for years. Not only has it been an important part of our schedule, and success, it helped change the direction of this network,” she reminisced. And, on that nostalgic note, she invites media buyers to go day drink with CBS staff at their post-presentation party, at Lincoln Center.