CBS played Carnegie Hall at the Upfronts again. Unlike the other network’s upfronts, CBS had James Corden doing Hamilton, not to be confused with ESPN’s Upfront Hamilton, NBC’s Upfront Hamilton, or ABC’s Upfront Hamilton performance for media buyers. CBS’s presentation also had comedies. Lots of comedies. Lots of guys too: Kevin James. Matt LeBlanc. Joel McHale, Dermot Mulroney, Michael Weatherly, Bill Paxton.
Here’s how it played out:
CBS Carnegie Hall upfront opens with Frank Sinatra sound-alike singing lyrics to “My Way” adapted for the Upfront :
Yes, there will be shrimp, and big stars to meet.
Plus open bar, now life’s complete
There will be shrimp and big starts to meet.
Network TV, we get it done.
We’re CBS and we’re no. 1
And so it goes and the world knows
Spend time the Eye Way.
Another Hamilton segment at an Upfront! This makes three, or is it four?
James Corden’s Hamilton performance puts other networks’ Upfront Hamilton references to shame, including ESPN’s Hamilton, ABC’s Hamilton, and, sorry, Jimmy Fallon’s Hamilton.
“We just want your Hamiltons!” Corden sings to media buyers, surrounded by ensemble.
Corden: “It is absolutely an honor for me to introduce a true American Statesman to the stage. He is the chairman and CEO of the CBS Corporation. The finest speaker you’ll hear this week. Ladies and gentleman, the One, the Only: Les Moonves!
Because Les likes low-key intros.
“Anyone else noticing a Hamilton theme this week? Ours is the best,” Les opened.
Les: “Broadcast television remains single best medium for advertising. Digital advertising lack accuracy and credibility.” He touts the shift back to network and away from cable, which “does not have the reach of broadcast” and which, he said, is showing ratings declines across many basic cable nets.
Les on CBS News: “2016 is one for the record books to say the least. CBS This Morning is enjoying its largest viewership in 28 years. It’s clearly the place to go if interested in keeping up with the news rather than keeping up with Kardashians. CBS Evening News is reaching its biggest audience in decades. “
Scott Pelley comes out one stage with John Dickerson and CBS morning show gang. He talks about giving “voice to the voiceless,” “no democracy without journalism,”
Moonves made some news at his Upfront: confirming that Good Wife spinoff for CBS Access. Christine Baranski stars.
He also shows an incredibly brief plug for next Star Trek. The series is slated to premiere in January 2017 with a preview
broadcast on CBS followed by an exclusive run in the U.S. on CBS All
Access. The promo shows logo and stars. “You didn’t think we were going show cast?” Moonves jokes.
Glenn Geller brought out to walk media buyers through the new schedule. Starts with Kevin James’ return to CBS, and his Monday timeslot, in Kevin Can Wait.
Kevin James’ new series is similar to his former CBS series: Male Pattern Optimism. His TV wife is really hot; he is not so much. “I promise to make this bigger and better” he tells media buyers, “and not in the obvious way, like I got in shape. It’s different in that I have kids in this one.” Oh, of course!
Speaking of having kids this time: Matt LeBlanc stars in CBS’s new Man With a Plan. In fact, Kevin James and Matt Leblanc shows seem to have almost the same premise. And, based on the clips, both appear to have a stripper joke. Sigh.
“Les Moonves gave me a job in a multi-cam comedy in 1984 and we had a pretty good run. Hopefully, with a little elbow grease and your help, we can find success again,” LeBlanc winningly told media buyers on stage.
Cast of The Big Bang Theory takes the stage.. They give Geller their “notes” on this and that. Geller tries to shut them down. Jim Parsons warns: “Remember Glenn, Nina [Tassler] didn’t ever take our notes, and I don’t see her here today.” (ABC similarly made a joke about its departed Entertainment division chief Paul Lee yesterday during its presentation)
CBS is the last of the broadcast networks to trot out casts of new series to talk to media buyers. Dermot Mulroney, for instance, tells them that “when your show is called Pure Genius there’s a certain amount of pressure.” It’s old-school, and nice. But then, CBS isn’t sharing its two hours on stage with eight other networks.
MacGyver clip is okay.
Stephen Colbert take the stage: “I’m so excited to be back at the Upfronts this year. I love you. And I knew I loved you from the moment I first needed commercials,” he tells media buyers.
Noting it’s his nine month anniversary at the network he said “a baby we conceived in a commercial break on my very first show could be born by now.” but that hasn’t happened “because your commercials are better than sex!”
Colbert makes his first Donald Trump joke — The Amazing Racist — less than one minute into his set. “I think I just doubled CNN’s record,” he said.
“2016 is a very big year for comedy,” he said. “And if Trump wins, 2017 will be an even bigger year for tragedy. “
Michael Weatherly in Dr. Bull plays Dr. Phil back when he was a jury consultant. Media buyers love the clip. Only better looking. “So, it’s been an interesting 24 hours and, I have to confess, when I left CBS – and that was last night – I had a pretty dark time of it,” the NCIS star joked on stage. “I promise, you you are going to love the show and, unlike my character, that’s no bull,” he said. Ugh.
“It’s been a blast making Training Day, and his co-star Justin Cornwell, will finally “get to pay off that student loan,” Bill Paxton jokes.
CBS’ The Great Indoors star Joel McHale comes out on stage to throw shade at NBC:
“I can’t believe I am part of the CBS family now. It seem like only yesterday I would be the ratings on Community and the rest of afternoon send death threats to the cast of The Big Bang Theory.
“It’s wonderful to be on a broadcast network that will advertise the show that I’m in. It’s odd, it feels weird. CBS has it all: strategy and, what’s it called? Viewers. Honestly, thank you CBS for giving me the chance to work with this fantastic cast. Wait until you hear Stephen Fry’s British accent!”
Geller walks media buyers through CBS’s primetime schedule layout during and post Thursday football. “CBS has the best show and that’s the best BS you’ve heard all week,” Geller says.
That’s a wrap!