The final upfront of this nutty week was actually the fastest. Thanks to The CW for having an audience with a short attention span and realizing that long strings of numbers were meaningless. There was a DJ booth and they provided snacks (some nuts and an apple). Promising start.
The VP of Sales, Rob Tuck, came out and I braced myself for 15 minutes of boredom, but instead he threw out a few stats about the network and then said that they were really excited to introduce a huge new client that they landed. It's an account that they had been after for a long time. It's... Bass Industries. Naturally their CEO was on hand to talk about why he decided to affiliate himself with The CW. Ed Westwick came out on the stage at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, in character, to talk about the tough economy. He says that the net "targets an audience that I understand -- young women." He tells folks to "enjoy America's Next Top Model, as I have... or you could watch it on TV." And he put in a plug for a raise for the cast of Gossip Girl. It was funny, very much Chuck Bass-style and filled with sexual innuendos -- about what you'd expect.
Chuck, or Ed, introduced Dawn Ostroff, president of entertainment for The CW. She started into a spiel about the things that we were supposed to take away from this presentation. It involved their new "TV to Talk About" slogan, but I was so distracted by her Star Trek-looking glass screen that I couldn't really pay that much attention. Last year she had holograms, so this was slightly less impressive, but still cooler than any of the presentation tools that the other networks had. After talking about the median age of their average viewer for a while (33... which is older than I would have thought) she moved right into the preview for Melrose Place. No fuss, no muss. I wish other networks would take this tact.
As for the Melrose Place update, if you watched the old series, you pretty much know what you're getting: neighbors in an insulated little community (that centers around a shared swimming pool) who are devious, deceptive, backstab, look really pretty and aspire to have bigger and better things and will stop at nothing to get it, even murder. Laura Leighton (Sydney!) and Thomas Calabro (Michael!) are back. Neither is as cool as Heather Locklear, but they'll do. Especially since the duo are still trying to make each other entirely miserable. Sydney even stoops to seducing Michael's son David (an MP resident, doncha know) just to torture him. I'd be really excited for this show if Ashlee Simpson-Wentz weren't one of the stars.,/P>
Their next new show is The Vampire Diaries. Apparently it's based on a series of books, but I imagine that the pitch movie for this show went along these lines:
Did you hear that this Twilight movie is a big hit with the kids?
Sure did. Those kids just can't get enough of their vampire romances.
I found this teen series of books that we can mostly ignore, like we did with those Gossip Girl ones, but we can take the characters from it, use even cheaper effects than Twilight and draw the girls in.
That's a great idea. Let's make sure we find some hot guys to play vampires. And the most dull actress possible to play the female lead.
And thus, The Vampire Diaries TV series starring Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley. Nina (who I hated as Mia on Degrassi: The Next Generation) stars as a high-school student who becomes the center of a love triangle between two hot undead brothers. It looks like it will suck, and not in a good vampire way.
The final fall series they presented was A Beautiful Life, from producer Ashton Kutcher. I enjoy Ashton's tweets, but he should probably stick to reality programming. This drama about the modeling industry looks generic and dull, with Mischa Barton as a bitchy, drug addicted model and awkward Sara Paxton as a new girl trying to make it. Also, Corbin Bleu co-stars, and he has less hair now. No one on the show looks particularly model-worthy, except Elle McPherson, but I'll probably watch every ridiculous and implausible moment of it. Modeling shows and dancing shows are like my Kryptonite. I'm powerless to change the channels when they are on.
Then we were shown a sneak preview of the midseason series Parental Discretion Advised. It has the stupidest plot, but actors I normally enjoy, so I'm feeling sort of ambivalent about it. Shiri Appleby (Roswell and more recently ER) and Kristoffer Polaha (Miss/Guided) are two people who hooked up in high school at prom. She got knocked up, gave the kid up for adoption and they went their separate ways. She's a radio DH, he owns a bar. They find out that their kid (played by Britt Robertson... a.k.a that annoying girl on Swingtown) is now 16 and has been bounced around foster care and wants to be emancipated, but a judge decides she should be raised by her birth parents. It's weird, but I thought that about the premiere of Everwood too, so maybe it will be decent. Or not.
Then Ostroff showed off the schedule, bringing out casts from each series that was on in a given night. No one really had anything interesting to say aside from "thanks for watching/buying ad time on our shows." Mischa Barton was suspiciously absent from the Beautiful Life group, but we were informed that she was doing a modeling shoot in Russia. Really? Blake Lively wore the oddest outfit of the day -- it was a blue... jumper... that had shorts, but they were somehow high-waisted and all together too snug, and then around the top, it had these fancy evening gown cutouts. And the entire thing was done in an aquamarine-esque shade. It was... memorable. Tyra Banks (and last cycle's winner Teyona) hyped their new season, which she said featured "short girls." This comment generated some chuckles from the audience, but Banks was oblivious. She then informed us that she believes that "beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and now heights as well." Again, laughter at the fact that she has just decided that short people have a reason to exist. Wonder if they'll use that Randy Newman song as the theme.
After we found out that Smallville's getting shuffled to Fridays (none of those cast members were paraded out) and that it is being paired with a Top Model rerun (which seems like a real strong showing of support), Ostroff made a few remarks to close the show, got in one little dig at NBC and then bid the crowd adieu. Perfect. Now us media types could return to debating important issues, like who should have won Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.
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