Here we are, end of the 2012 upfront event season. Before we move forward to other things, including the season of upfront advertising commitments, let's review the questions posed in this column before last week's record-shattering number of events and learn how many of them were answered when the dust settled.
***Is broadcast TV adapting the same model of running two or more primetime series in the same time slot over a season, uninterrupted by specials or reruns--standard practice in England and elsewhere? Answer: At least NBC will with several time periods this coming year, such as Mondays at 10. There, you'll find Revolution in the fall, with Smash's second season starting next January or February. The idea is to cut down on repeats mid-run that often break a promising show's momentum and frustrates viewers so much they don't return when the new episodes return.
***Will any cancelled 2011-12 series find a second chance on cable? Answer: Cougar Town sewed up a new season on TBS before ABC could reach out and pull the plug, and Unforgettable may get that shot via Lifetime or TNT. Keep in mind that Unforgettable was one of three rookie series, all CBS, to land in the top 20 Nielsen ratings week after week, and consistently won its time period. Way outside shot: ABC's Pan Am, due to overseas appeal.
***Will diversity show up, and if so, what degree? Answer: Yes, compared to last year when not one new scripted CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW series had a lead actor of color, and very few had supporting actors of color, not to mention producers/writers/directors of color. ABC has Andre Braugher headlining Last Resort; Anthony Anderson co-stars in NBC's Guys With Kids with Meagan Good topping midseason drama Infamous; Lucy Liu as Watson in CBS' Sherlock Holmes reboot Elementary, and Kristin Kreuk graduating from Smallville supporting player to co-star of Beauty & The Beast on The CW. Plenty of supporting actors of color all over the place...and there's more leaps in front of and behind the cameras to make.
***Will any of the Spanish-language TV networks step to the plate with original weekly series with U.S.-based talent calling the shots? Answer: For scripted series, looks like Telefutura and newcomer Mundo Fox may be the most open places, with Vme, MTV's Tr3s and Galavision amenable in the near or long run. Univision and Telemundo are sticking with weeknight telenovelas as their scripted forte. In other genres, everyone's a player.
***Who gets a memorable quip from Jimmy Kimmel (at ABC's presentation)? Answer: Take your pick from The CW ("They go last (presenting) because...they don't really exist. They're an imaginary network."), X Factor judge Paula Abdul ("She's the Rosa Parks of bipolar talent show judges."), NBC's primetime plans ("Spinning chairs and a monkey. This truly is the golden age of TV.") or ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee's ambition to head the BBC ("ABC has something that the BBC will never have--denial.").
***Will any of the combo broadcast/cable multicast channels created in the last few years make a big push for upfront dollars? Answer: Bounce TV appears the most likely, with their fast distribution growth since launching last September, and getting an original pair of comedy series on the air next month. Look for them, and others, to consider presentations in NY next spring.
***What's in USA's development pipeline? Answer: Enough to warrant three press releases post-event last Thursday afternoon, one each for comedy, reality and drama efforts. What they didn't divulge at that anticipated Lincoln Center event was a new series with a start date.
***Will NBC Universal-owned Telemundo finally carry the Olympics in primetime this summer? Answer: No, even though the network will produce a record 170 hours-plus of coverage from London with its own crew, led by Jesse Losada, the Bob Costas of Latino TV (whose work continues to get minimal mainstream press attention). Follow-up question: When will NBC/NBC Sports get straight in public over why this is going on, and stop it so Telemundo and its viewers can enjoy the Olympics in full along with everyone else?
***Where's m-Net, the major Asian-American TV channel now in business for 18 months? Answer: Still asking. Not only did they not do an upfront event, they didn't turn up at The Cable Show this week in Boston with a booth, panel participation or a press release. We've already had two promising A-A nets go down in Imaginasian TV and AZN. This community and a possible large crossover audience deserves a winner.
***Why did Internet Week NY move its annual festival from a great early June spot to last week, smack against upfronts? Answer: Insert your own idea here, because IW organizers have their mouths zipped. Hundreds of media and advertising people would have picked up plenty from many of the 200-plus events held last week, including Appnation's first mini-conference on interactive TV applications and LG's Google TV/smart TV demo. Also, for the second straight year, press coverage dropped because of incompetent behavior at PKPR, IW's public relations agency. Journalist interest was high, but once again, PKPR denied credentials all over the place, inviting reporters to pay a fee to attend. Nevertheless, congratulations to IW for attracting as many as 50,000 people this year, far above expectations.
That's a wrap for 2012. If you suspect a bigger agenda of events next spring, chances are your suspicions will come true.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!
Simon Applebaum is producer/host of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the weekly Internet-distributed radio program covering the TV scene. Simon cal be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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