Venue: Dream Downtown's rooftop lounge, occupying most of this Chelsea district hotel's penthouse, hosted Nuvo TV's upfront in mid-April. Understandable why--great city views via mini-patios with sofas or chairs, and a grand bar near the elevator. For Oxygen, screens were placed on one side, while outside the main entrance, guests were welcomed with a yellow carpet and people blowing bubbles from the top of a bus. Food was serviceable. Grade: 4 Jacks
Presentation: At Gotham Hall last year, talent from Oxygen shows (especially The Glee Project) appeared to make more of an impression on attendees than the executive speeches. With that context in hand, after a brief intro by president Jason Klarman, the network let do all the talking, the singing and the dancing from there. With a rectangle stage in the center of the room, personalities from Girlfriend Confidential L.A. to L.A. Style introduced themselves, and then let clips expand on the situations they get into via their respective series. The energy level never flagged--you could sense it from the go. For a finish, award-winning So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Travis Wall and his dance buddies, subject of upcoming series All The Right Moves and fresh from a Dancing With The Stars results show performance the night before in Los Angeles, dazzled with a multi-style routine. If you didn't get in the mood for moving then, leave it to the just-picked Glee Project 2 candidates to work the mood with their version of Lady Gaga's hit The Edge Of Glory. You could taste the energy long after the last note. A nominee for best in category. Grade: 5 Jacks
News: Original programming will increase by 50 percent this coming season, but only The Next Big Thing NY among the new series has a debut date (June 12). Plus several series received no attention at the event, including I'm Having Their Baby (new moms explore the tough choice of putting their offspring up for adoption), a program that looks special on paper. Grade: 2.5 Jacks
Host: Klarman was nice in his brief bit. Grade: 3 Jacks
Overall Grade: 4 Jacks Super locale and presentation, brought down by a deficit of new series details. One more time: a sure nominee for best presentation of 2012.
Venue: On the outside, St. John's Center (occupying a big block of the West Side Highway near the Holland Tunnel) looks like any warehouse. However, this is one of the most flexible spaces any event can enjoy using. Popular Web blog TechCrunch did two years ago when launching its first Disrupt NY conference. They used one side of the building; Digitas used the other side for its fifth annual NewFront, the mega-event from which this year's collection of online/digital video gatherings originated. One huge room was used for the main presentation, with one wall projecting Twitter reactions from attendees (and people watching simulcasts around the country) on either side of the stage. Another room was used for a visitor lounge, a mini-red carpet for press and exhibitor demonstrations. Hallways nearby directed attendees to exhibitor suites for one-on-one meetings. Sandwiches, cookies and chips for all. One thought: is tuna the forbidden sandwich for 2012 upfronts/newfronts? Just wondering. Grade: 4.5 Jacks
Presentation: To Digitas' credit, their six-hour event balances out with a mix of panels, newsmaker interviews, online video showcases (from both established and new players) and star turns, with breaks for networking and visits to those meeting rooms. The focus normally stays with the current and future state of Web and online video opportunities, giving advertisers a great taste of how they can participate in Web content as well as spot buys. Unfortunately, the general tone this year came off unfocused, especially through numerous segment that felt out of place, dumb, or both. Example in the both category: a "digital intervention" panel where Bravo chief programmer Andy Cohen and others try to get actress Rashida Jones to adopt Twitter. When you have people like Cohen around with much to say about the Web and its impact on TV, a Twitter for dummies discussion is not what you desire. "Stuck At The Like" with execs from Best Buy, Buddy Media, Xerox and J. Crew also went nowhere. For the flip side, and the exception to the panel effort which botched earlier NewFronts, Hulu, Yahoo, YouTube, MSN, AOL and Digitas reps engaged everyone in an excellent forum on where online is heading, and whether the medium will replace TV, supplement TV, or be something else. Just-departing IFC/Sundance Channel chief Evan Shapiro did an outstanding job as moderator. Grade: 5 Jacks for Evan's panel; 3 Jacks for all six hours.
News: No one used this event to break news--why not? Great forum to do so with loads of ad people and journalists on hand. Grade: 0 Jacks
Host: A threesome for year five--Digital chief creative/strategy officer Mark Beeching, TV/online personality J. B. Smoove and actress/host Ali Wentworth. Beeching held everyone's attention with his quips ("Digital video is no side show. It's a big main act...We have no excuse to leave here with nothing being done."), Smoove pushed the enthusiasm button when needed, and Wentworth, surprisingly, didn't get much stage time separately or with Smoove. Grade: 3.5 Jacks
Overall Grade: 3.5 Jacks Stay with what got your big audience in the first place...demo and converse about what's hip and ahead for online and the Web. When you do, include a discussion of Web diversity, as in generating more content produced by and for people of color, now making up more than 40 percent of this nation's population, and sooner than we believe, become the majority of the populous.
5 Jacks - Excellent
4 Jacks - Very Good
3 Jacks - Good
2 Jacks - Fair
1 Jack - Poor
0 Jacks -Worse than bad
In a recent column, we wondered why Gotham Hall near Herald Square, a venue fave with upfronts for years, was not in favor this year. Gotham finally got on the 2012 map last Monday night with E!'s debut New York upfront. So there...there.
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 email@example.com.
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