This year NBC has to share its two hours of Radio City Music Hall time with the other networks of NBCUniversal, including E!, Bravo, USA, Syfy, Telemundo, etc. Let’s see how many times the networks of NBCU mention the Summer Olympics in Rio.
In NBC’s headlines, Erik Kripke and Shawn Ryan’s hot new time-travel drama series Timeless landed the Monday 10 PM slot behind The Voice, while Blindspot is being transplanted to Wednesdays at 8 PM. Only three new series and four moved returning shows on the fall schedule at the network which is “dancing a jig,” says Entertainment Group chief Bob Greenblatt. That’s because “for the first time in a long time we’re not running around throwing shows against the wall and hoping for the best.”
Dick Wolf has expanded his Chicago franchise to four series with new Chicago Justice. He also has Law & Order: SVU for a quintet of dramas on NBC. NBC taking a step toward bringing comedy back to Thursday nights, moving Superstore to pair it with after-life comedy The Good Place. Meanwhile, The Celebrity Apprentice – now called The New Celebrity Apprentice and starring former politician Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of aspiring politician Donald Trump – will not launch until after the presidential election, which keeps it from getting compared to, or trampled by, Trump’s Amazing White House Race.
Highlights from the red carpet outside Radio City Music Hall:
Kardashians K and K warned they’re going to Cuba this season, because that’s what happen when you re-open relations. This season of Keeping Up is all about them having run and mom finally standing up for herself, because apparently she’s been a pushover all those other seasons.
Mariah Carey stared at her torso in the monitor, and complimented her tush,
which she refers to as “it,” while being interviewed
about this and that.
Asked why she’s so composed when she’s about to get married,
Carey responds cooly, “What am I supposed to do, freak out? This is No. 3.”
Jimmy Fallon opens the show, dressed as Hamilton and singing: Ten shows premiering this fall and the word “Chicago” appears in them all….At least we can say we’re the network that fired Donald Trump.”
“Silence!” he begins. “I have the message from the King, Mr. Steve Burke!: ‘You say the price of my ads aren’t the price that you”e willing to pay. You cry when I show you the clips of the shows that we’re going to try. Don’t be sad. We’ve still got The Voice and this year the Olympic are back (that’s #1). You should be glad, as least we’re not rebooting Heroes and renewing The Slap’.”
Steve Burke takes the stage, touts Fallon’s Tonight Show ratings, reminds media buyers of the graceful transition (this time) from Jay Leno to Fallon on the late-night show. He slaps his company on the back for saving the media buyers all that taxi money schlepping from one NBCU upfront presentation to another. Then begins the March of the Numbers Boast. On Olympics, “17 straight days during Olympics if you add up CBS ABC and Fox ratings, and triple them, our ratings will beat that.”
Burke: This season there were 61 big nights and we had 43 of them, touting Olympics (#2), football and Golden Globes.
Burke wraps his speech, noting they have one hour and 45 minutes left to present program plans on about a dozen networks.
Chairman ad sales Linda Yaccarino tells media reps they’re probably wondering why NBCU is doing only one upfront….( to save them time and taxi fares?) No — It’s because that’s how they sell, she explained. They are going to present today “by fan-base” so they can “see through the eyes of the audience. “Segments by fan base that’s what you’re going to see. Now let’s talk about what you’re going to think, and how you’re going to feel.” Boasting 150 pieces of on-air talent in the hall is an applause line.
Yaccarino: “Television is about the ‘oohs and aahs’, listing Lester Holt covering the most unpredicable election’ (Trump reference #3) and ‘when Michael Phelps dives into the poll in Rio to make history just one last time (Olympics reference #3).”
At 28 minutes into presentation, first start take the stage, Blindspot‘s Jaimie Alexander and Dennis Haysbert introduce clips of NBC’s new time-travel drama Timeless, and Syfy’s new Haysbert starrer, Incorporated.
USA’s Mr. Robot stars Christian Slater and Rami Malek demonstrate the importance of rehearsal as they read the intro to their Season 2 clips.
Today’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie: ‘We have nothing quite that sinister to share.” But then they mention the town hall they did with Donald Trump (#4). They introduce Elizabeth Hurley fly fishing which is just like advertising because it’s “Not about casting wide net and hoping for best. It’s about knowing the fish’s behavior.. in much the same way” the audience wants to “catch the right consumers at the right time” to be “most impactful. Worms are involved.
Finally talk turns to comedy. Phew! Superstore’s America Ferrera and The Good Place‘s Kristen Bell introduce clips of The Good Place, Tina Fey-and-Robert Carlock’s new comedy Great News, and new Trial & Error.
CBS appears to have infiltrated NBU’s Upfront presentation, and already has rebutted NBC claims made at the top of this event:
NBC’s #1 claims are all about sports and more specifically, are all about the NFL. Removing just the Super Bowl but including NBC Sunday Night Football for 2015-16 averages is BS. However, If you remove ALL NFL TELECASTS from all networks, we are #1, beating NBC by one-tenth in A18-49, 1.9 vs. 1.8. With the Olympics this summer they are likely to win A18-49 for the 2015-16 broadcast year. However, if you remove all NFL telecasts for all networks for the 2014-15 broadcast year, NBC drops to 3rd place, behind both CBS and ABC. See attached table.
Whiplash pivot to NBCU reality series clips, introduced by Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, who had warned they’re going to Cuba this season during red carpet.
Long clip of NBC’s new This is Us about a disparate group of people who all share the same birthday, seguing into slate of sci-fi dramas across NBU networks: Gale Anne Hurd’s Falling Water for USA; Syfy’s Krypton; NBC’s Emerald City – a sort of Wizard of Oz cum Game of Thrones.
Voice of Dolly Parton introduces NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt, in sly reference to their duet that was one of the highlights of last year’s Upfront Week.
He, in turn, introduces Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keyes, new coaches on NBC singing competition The Voice. by way of promoting how many hours of live TV are on the networks of NBCU.
Miley orders media buyers to give her a shout out, which they do. Keyes giggles. “They’re all a little drunk – but it’s okay, so are we,” Cyrus says, which seems entirely believable.
Keyes notes it’s the first time in 10 seasons the show has had two women coaches. Cyrus marvels “They’re going to let me go live! I thought, when they brought me this, it was a joke!”
Clip of loads of live TV includes Rio Olympics plug — #4, or is it 5?
About 10 months after NBC primetime star Donald Trump kicked off his presidential candidacy by talking about the big wall he’s going to build to keep out the Mexican “rapists,” Cesar Conde, Chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, marvels at NBCU’s UPfront that this is the first time Spanish and English language media are on the same stage together for an Upfront presentation. That’s called progress.
USA’s Shooter presidential assassination attempt clip is a bit unsettling, given Donald Trump’s former butler, etc.
Jason Kennedy and Maria Menounos come out to tout E! news’s “bad-ass new state of the art” newsroom.
They’re followed by Mark Lazarus Chairman, NBC Sports Group, starring in a short made-for-Upfront video with All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals. They’re making cupcakes. There are so many things ways to decorate cupcakes, they demonstrate – just like NBCU’s array of strategic partnership possibilites. Fitzgerald shows how to drizzle icing on a cupcake. “That Drizzle is the Shizzle!” raves Lazarus.
Arnold Schwarzenegger takes the stage to say it’s an honor to join the NBC family to “take over the board room as new CEO of Celebrity Apprentice.” He gets through his dog-and-pony show without once mentioning Trump by name – nicely done. He says instead that, “Shows like this…across the NBCU portfolio, represent the spirit of what it takes to be a winner,” and test-drives a “Now, let’s get down to business” catchphrase.
Elizabeth Hurley and Vanessa Hudgens are trotted out to introduce “shows with strong female characters.” And by “strong female characters” Hurley explains, they mean women who “stir the pot, let it boil over, and let someone else clean up the mess. Because they can.” Imagining Donald Trump saying that line and ensuing media reaction. Anyway, clips of My So Called Wife, The Arrangement and Powerless follow.
Andy Cohen introduces E!’s new series: an “intimate look inside the life of a jet set diva, Mariah Carey.”
Carey is wheeled out on stage in a cloud of smoke and hunky shirtless men. What little she is almost wearing is very glittery.
“This is the ensemble!” she coos. “I’m trying to wake you guys up. Hello!”
“Give it up for the shirtless guys who brought out Maria!” raves Seth Meyers, who’s taken the stage to close out the clambake. “They’re the unsung heroes. That’s a show I’d like to watch.”
“If I had to follow Linda Yaccarino and the Future of Branded Content I have to think it would affect my ratings,” Meyers says. “Needless to say I’m happy to be back here,” he said, noting the presentation previously had moved from Radio City Music Hall to the Javitz Center – a trajectory that usually does not lead back to Radio City Music Hall but to “the men’s room at Penn Station.”
“I’ve always dreamed of performing on this stage. In the dream it wasn’t for Upfronts,” Meyers quipped. He’s going over very well in the hall. Among those who have performed here, he said, are Sinatra, Beyonce, “Parton and Greenblatt. I might be wrong, but I think that’s the last time they performed together.”
“The last event held here was Adele’s first performance in four years. But you guys get to find out what Chiller Network is up to!”
“Did we order that cupcake show with Mark Lazarus? I don’t know how we get 22 episodes out of it. What’s the opposite of ‘chemistry’?”
“This is the first time NBC and Telemundo are here for one upfront and, based on the presidential election, maybe the last. It will be hard to hear each other over Trump Wall.”
That’s a wrap!