“We’re just f*cking with you now, right? You realize that,” said Jimmy Kimmel about ABC’s upcoming shows early on in his annual monologue-cum-roast in the middle of ABC’s TV Upfronts presentation. And that’s about as good an example as any of the profane, equal opportunity dis-fest he delivered this afternoon in his 14th appearance at the Upfronts.
Mostly hilarious, particularly at the beginning when Kimmel channelled Stephen Colbert by coming out onstage after a campaign commercial for his joke run to become Vice President of the United States – (He channeled Colbert again later on when he essentially borrowed a Hindenburg joke from the Late Night host’s legendary 2006 DC Correspondent’s Dinner performance) – in the end, it was fully in keeping with Kimmel’s schtick, for better and only occasionally for worse.
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Kimmel was mostly on fire as he delivered his usual take-no-prisoners roast of ABC, of ABC’s competition, the threat posed by online streaming and millennial viewing habits, and even the very concept of the Upfronts, which he likened to “a Ted Talk where you leave dumber than when you got here”. (That one got huge laughs by the way.) But some of the sharpest barbs during his approximately 10-minute speech came at the expense of ABC, which he mocked for some of its upcoming programming, shoving significant insults at the upcoming Downward Dog, which he derided as a “show about a talking dog,” in the process lightly zinging newly-minted ABC President Channing Dungey for greenlighting it. Further biting the hand that feeds him, he also noted that the yoga position after which the show named is similar to “what we’re asking [advertisers] to do this week.”
Of course, he also ripped the competition apart. As with last year, he spent a lot of time calling out NBC, which he mocked for NBCUniversal’s “4.5-hour presentation”, which he said was called “NBCFU”. and worked in a nice jab at the Apprentice‘s new host, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also dissed Fox for the huge number of revivals and adaptations the network is airing in the next season, noting the irony of a network whose demographic skews so young for making shows based on “all your favorite VHS tapes.”
But he spent a particularly long time tearing into CBS., mainly focusing on the older-skewing demo that is the network’s core audience, and this might have been where he most failed to connect his punches. More than once, when the camera cut to the audience of media, network execs and advertising professionals, there was much side-eye and far more muted laughter, and that was particularly true during his age-based jokes at CBS’ expense. One exception: huge, huge laughs when he said that “CBS objects to the term ‘live,'” – as in live plus same day ratings – “because so many of their viewers aren’t.” But he continued in that vein when switching to NBC, during which a particularly pointed joke about NBC’s Better Late Than Never and sex tourism thudded.
In any case, steady laughs occasionally gave way to more muted reactions. Perhaps people thought the jokes in question were too mean, or just low hanging fruit, but by the end, unlike last year’s roaring reception, the monologue ended with polite, but not that sustained, applause as Kimmel walked offstage and kissed Dungey on the cheek as they passed one another. “I’m actually wondering at this moment if we’ve actually closed Jimmy’s deal…” Dungey said immediately upon returning to the stage. She said it with her tongue firmly in cheek of course, but you couldn’t help but wonder if there was a little bite to it.
See the full transcript below.
Wow, it’s so good to be here again… isn’t it? This is the 14th time I’ve been here to the Upfront in New York, and I have to admit I’m actually starting to look forward to this. You know ABC has become, you know we say it’s like a family and it has become a family to me and this is kind of our family reunion every year.
Where’s uncle Paul? Oh that’s right, I forgot. You know I feel bad for Paul, he’s a nice guy, a very smart guy, and you hate to see anyone, especially a British person lose his dental plan. But, we move on, we have a new president now, Channing Dungey who’s lovely. (Applause) I had a feeling you would like her. I do wanna take one moment of seriousness to congratulate Channing because she’s too humble to mention this herself, so I will: Channing Dungey is the first African American female network president ever to pick up a show about a talking dog, and I think that deserves a round of applause.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Channing’s background, she began her career working as a story editor for Steven Seagal’s film company, where she was so successful she was able to get people to actually go see movies starring Steven Seagal. (Very muted laughter at this gag.)
How are you guys holding up, is everyone alright, was it a long day yesterday? F*ckin’ NBC!
Did they mention they have the olympics? We don’t have the Olympics this summer, we have Battlebots this summer. You know the last time we had the olympics, Bob Costas got pink eye. And this year I’ve heard, rumor has it they’re planning to give him the zika virus.
NBCUniversal combined all their networks into one mammoth, four and a half hour long Upfronts presentation called “NBCFU” yesterday. But I’m glad they combined them, there’s too many of these, it’s crazy. Do Crackle and Vox and Vevo really need to have Upfronts? These aren’t networks, these are sound effects when Batman punches a bad guy.
And really, do you guys learn anything from these presentations, I mean let’s call this what it is, it’s a Ted Talk where you leave dumber than when you got here. (Big laughs) So settle in.
ABC as you’ve seen over and over again is the most diverse network. Why, I’ll tell you why: Because the other networks are horrible racists. At ABC we’ve embraced diversity like no other network, which is why I am so proud to this year’s most exciting new drama, “Gay Black Doctor Cop”.
You haven’t seen them yet but we’ve got some new comedies. We’ve got Downward Dog, which as I mentioned is a show about a talking dog. We’re just fucking with you now, right? You realize that. You know downward dog is actually a yoga position, where you put your hands and feet on the floor and your butt up in the air, kind of like what we’re asking you guys to do this week.
But this is interesting, to get the dog, when they shot the pilot, the downward dog, the mixed breed mutt to perform, the trainer had to reward him with little pieces of bacon. Which is actually how they got John Travolta to do his lines on The People Versus OJ. Simpson.
Fox made a very bold move this year, they became the first network to stop reporting live plus same day ratings. And there’s some good arguments for why they’re doing it but I feel like the arguments would carry more weight if they weren’t in last place. It’s like the Knicks announcing they’re not longer going to use the final score to determine who won. It doesn’t reflect the reality of the modern basketball game.
A lot of networks are looking at the live plus same day ratings, our network ABC objects to the term “same day,” since so many of our viewers watch these shows on demand, and CBS objects to the term “live” because so many of their viewers aren’t.
One alarming trend is that millennials are leaving our networks in droves, which I guess is a problem, but are we really going to let these vaping, snapchatting, music-stealing little f*ckers determine how we do business? We are? Oh. We are.
Here at ABC, 18-49 isn’t just our target demo, it’s the number of people who watched Wicked City last season. But nevertheless this is expected to be a very big week spending-wise. Some people are saying that the network TV business is making a comeback. All those people are network executives, but they are saying it. The good news is even with all the many options out there, traditional television is still king. 2016 is still an exciting time in broadcast television. In the same way that 1937 was an exciting time to be on the Hindenburg.
But we do have room for improvement, we do admit that. Many viewers are upset because there are so many commercials now. There’s been a lot of talk about heavier ad loads, which is by far the most disgusting thing I’ve heard you people say all week. Youtube is now doing six second buffer ads that you cannot skip, Google calls the new ads “a quick and fun format.” Nice try Google, go back to work drawing a fun logo for national waffles day, you d*ckheads.
Viewers love streaming content, and ABC gets that, we do. Which is why I’m proud to announce our new show, “Porn”. It’s a little bit slow to start but stick with it, it gets good at the end.
In order for broadcast television to survive we have to stay current, and that’s why we are bringing you fresh new shows like Macgyver, Prison Break, 24, Training Day, The $100,000 Pyramid, and Match Game. Yesterday Fox said their audience is younger, and their content is buzzier. And I will add their bull is sh*ttier. Fox picked up series based on The Exorcist and Lethal Weapon, all your favorite VHS tapes are now becoming shows. They decided to remake The Exorcist when [Fox TV Co-Chairman/CEOs] Gary [Newman] and Dana [Walden] looked at their ratings and started projectile vomiting. Fox now has The Exorcist on the schedule, and and Lucifer which, as you know, is based on the life of their founder Rupert Murdoch. So the devil is on their side.
I’m surprised Fox picked up Lethal Weapon. You’d think a show where the lead character’s signature phrase is “I’m getting too old for this sh*t” would be on CBS. CBS cancelled CSI Cyber which is the last of the CSIs. They picked up a number of new dramas which is good I guess. It’s amazing CBS could pick anything up considering the osteoporosis. The average CBS viewer looks like the Red Woman from Game of Thrones without her necklace on.
NBC is aiming older too. Better Late Than Never is a show that follows Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw, William Shatner and George Foreman on a bucket list trip to Asia. I can’t imagine traveling to Asia with Terry Bradshaw being on anyone’s bucket list but I’ll tell you, normally when wealthy old men vacation in Asia, it’s called “sex tourism”.
Then they have Arnold Schwarzenegger over at NBC. Donald Trump is right, immigrants are taking our jobs, starting with his. Schwarzenegger will be the new host of Celebrity Apprentice. I don’t know about that, I don’t specialize in HR, I’m not a particularly politically correct guy, but should a guy who knocked up his maid be put in charge of an apprenticeship program? I think not.
Alright, I’ve had enough of you people. Thank you for your time, thank you for your money especially. If there’s one message I want you to take away tonight, it’s this: it’s not too late for you to become doctors, it really isn’t. ABC is different from the other networks, we are your partners. Don’t think of us as an old fashioned TV network, think of us as an enormous paper shredder for you to pour 8 billion dollars into. Let’s make beautiful green confetti together. I’ll see you next year and from what I’m told, the next two years after that. Thank you again everybody.
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