Will Smith got double-ribbing at NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation Monday morning at Radio City Music Hall by both of NBC’s late-night hosts.
Following Jimmy Fallon’s subtle reference at the start of the event to “nailing” the timing of Peacock’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air drama reboot, whose run coincided with Will Smith’s infamous slap at the Oscars, Seth Meyers went further in his traditional NBCU upfront roast.
“We are joined today by the talented cast of Peacock’s Bel-Air, a gritty dramatic reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “We were also treated this year to a gritty drama reimagining of Will Smith,” he said.
A longtime NBC staple, the Golden Globes, which Meyers hosted in 2018, also were in the comedian’s crosshairs. After multiple controversies, including a lack at diversity at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which organizes the awards show, the network dropped the 2022 telecast.
“It was a great year for live events on NBC, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the Golden Gl… the Super Bowl,” he said. “I don’t want to pick on the Golden Globes and pile on the HFPA but you have to work pretty hard to have less diversity than the Winter Olympics.”
Meyers also pointed out NBC’s heavy reliance on spinoffs and reboots — as well as the old-fashioned nature of the networks’ upfront presentations.
“I don’t need to tell you that the last two years have been transformative not just for the TV business but across all industries – we needed to be inventive, agile, forward-facing, and yet and this is still how we are doing upfronts,” he said. “That’s not to say that NBC is not embracing the future — this next year promises exciting new shows and ideas like Law & Order, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Night Court and Quantum Leap.”
Sequels to Night Court and Quantum Leap are new additions to NBC’s schedule next season. Meyers drilled down on the reboot of the classic time-travel NBC series that starred Scott Bakula, linking it to the network’s biggest current drama hit that is coming to an end.
“NBC is giving a full-series order to Quantum Leap in which the hero will travel through time to stop the This Is Us family from buying that Crockpot,” Meyers said, before correcting himself with an inside ad-buyers joke referencing NBCU’s head of sales Linda Yaccarino. “Slow cooker, not a great tie-in for Crockpot, can’t believe you let Yaccarino talk you into that.”
Added Meyers, “I’m pretty confident I’m going to be here in two years announcing a This Is Us reboot, That Was Them. The same episodes with a different name. ‘I think I’ve seen this. Yeah, but it’s still better than all the new stuff.'”
Meyers got in the reboot spirit himself.
“I’m all for reboots, just know that every time NBC reboots a show, somewhere, someplace Cosby is thinking ‘maybe, maybe…’,” he said before confessing, “I made that Cosby joke four years ago. You can say it’s lazy I did it again or you can say I rebooted it.”
The awkwardness of holding an in-person upfront during a pandemic was not lost on Meyers.
“It’s been three years since the last time we gathered in person for upfronts, and I’m sure you all missed it as much as I did if not less,” he said. “How great it is to be at Radio City, what a historical room… to be able to tell people you caught Covid in.”
Meyers also had typical upfront jibes.
“TV is the only place where you can lie through our teeth about how great everything is and call it upfronts. Let me be upfront with you, half of these shows won’t make it through the year,” he said, echoing comments ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel regularly makes in his traditional upfront roast. Meyers even evoked his late-night colleague.
“I know it sounds harsh but if history is any guide, Jimmy Kimmel will be far harsher tomorrow,” he said in passing the baton.
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