The CW pitched what may be the shortest broadcast TV Upfront presentation ever, unveiling to media buyers a fall lineup noticeably lacking in any series developed at the network over the last nine months. CW did have one new fall series to show to advertisers: the one-hour comedy Crazy Ex-Girfriend, which was a last-minute pickup of a project developed and piloted at Showtime.
Here’s how it went:
8 AM PT: Icelandic folk-pop band Of Monsters and Men opening CW’s Upfront presentation.
8:10 AM: And, because CW has only one new show on its fall slate and two for midseason, Of Monsters and Men gets to perform a second tune, Crystals:
Lost in skies of powdered gold
Caught in clouds of silver ropes
Showered by the empty hopes
As I tumble down, falling fast to the ground
I know I’ll wither so peel away the bark
Because nothing grows when it is dark
In spite of all my fears, I can see it all so clear
I see it all so clear
Cover your crystal eyes
And feel the tones that tremble down your spine
Cover your crystal eyes
And let your colors bleed and blend with mine
8:14 AM: CW’s EVP sales Rob Tuck: “This has been the best season ever for CW.” Big applause. “Our ratings are up year-to-year for the third season in a row. We have broadened out our audience and we continue to attract more men…we are resonating with viewers, critics and, for the first time, CW is winning major awards recognition. “
8:17 AM: CW chief Mark Pedowitz take the stage. He reiterates Tuck’s talking points and lays most of the credit at the feet of The Flash which, he notes, is CW’s most watched show ever, with the most watched premiere of any show in CW history, and is its highest rated series ever among men. Pedowitz brings Jane the Virgin into the discussion, noting all its trophy show noms and wins. “Applause is so nice!” Pedowitz says when media buyers put their hands together, in re all the trophy show love.
8:24 AM: “We got a pretty baaad president” in Mark Pedowitz, Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez says on stage, surrounded by her cast. Pedowitz, she said, “does things that are forward, considered risks” including showing “color and shape and sizes and cultures and religions…that matter to little kids” who then say, “I am here; I belong.” Abruptly switching gears from the aspirational to the nuts and bolts of TV, she tells advertisers to ” show us your dollars.”
“It maybe just money to you, but it’s our dreams!” she says. This is maybe best ever Upfront on-air-talent on-stage patter.
8:30 AM: Pedowitz introduces CW’s only new series on its fall schedule, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. After the long, and musical, clip, star Rachel Bloom takes the stage: “Wow! I feel like Bette Midler!” she begins. “So, when we were pitching around to be bought, our pitch was ‘Crazy ex girlfriend – everyone has been one, or has one’ in their past.
In pitch meetings at various networks, execs, she said, “started sharing the craziest dating and breakup stories.” See if you can figure out which exec at which network told producers they had followed a girl to Finland! And, there’s someone working in TV-series ordering at a TV network who’s got a giant “breakup tattoo” on her shoulder, according to Bloom. “Love, whoever you are, makes you crazy!” she gushed, citing some scientific study that says romantic breakup chemistry is “akin to obsessive compulsive disorder,” which explains so much, if remotely true. Anyway, Bloom’s new series is a “dark screwed-up romantic comedy” in which they look at the “dark, and obsessive…and pathetic side of love and turn it into a musical! I don’t know where Bette is, but I’m channeling her soul!” gushes Bloom.
“Shows that are high concept and high energy and big stakes are the core of CW’s brand,” Pedowitz insists stoutly as Bloom exits.
8:45 AM: Pedowitz begins to talk digital. At CW, it’s all good. With new Crazy Ex-Girlfriend paired with Jane the Virgin on Mondays, Pedowitz begins walks through the other days of the week on CW’s fall schedule, populated with returning series, some moved to new slots. And, with nine of the network’s 10 primetime slots taken by those returning series, this part of the event resembles a powerpoint presentation; Pedowitz has slides.
Then he moves on to show a long-ish clip of midseason newbie Containment – a sort of anti-Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in that it’s very dark and apocalyptic, involving a mysterious and deadly epidemic that breaks out in Atlanta, leading to massive quarantine, lock-down, and 100% certainty of fatality. Sort of like how cable news coverage of the first reported case of Ebola in the United States had looked to be heading when that story broke.
8:50 AM: CW’s other big-ticket new midseason drama, super-hero team drama DC’s Legends of Tomorrow gets the star treatment with clip package. It’s a fun orgy of special effects and such lines as, “In the future, you’re not heroes — you’re legends.” and, “So, you weren’t dead.” “You were just small.”
“We thank you for making us so heroic,” says cast member Victor Garber, on stage, foregoing the stale pre-written onstage banter of previous CW upfronts – or maybe it’s just that, being a veteran actor, his delivery is so much better. Anyway, Garber thanks the crew and CW, “and all of you for your support. We are thrilled to get started. What you saw is only the beginning. I promise.”
8:54 AM: “As you can see, we have three very different [new] shows in very different genres,” Pedowitz says of his one new fall series and two for midseason. He then thanks media buyers for coming today and says he looks forward to talking to them in the days to come. That was a very short presentation, which is an act of kindness, given that media buyers are in for a long one this afternoon when NBCU Cable does its presentation at Javitz Center.