Studios continue post-strike strategy

With the WGA strike over, CBS said Thursday that it will move forward with one hallmark of the smallscreen calendar: the upfronts. And while they haven’t made any official pronouncements, ABC, NBC, Fox and CW will also brief advertisers in May — ensuring the upfront week tradition will continue, though perhaps in a modified form.

“CBS plans to hold a presentation for advertisers at Carnegie Hall in New York on Wednesday, May 14,” the Eye said in a statement emailed to reporters Thursday. CBS usually follows its upfront with a finger food-filled bash at Gotham’s Tavern on the Green. A net spokesman wouldn’t confirm if the party was still on, but a rep for Tavern on the Green’s group sales office said the restaurant was fully booked for the afternoon and evening of May 14.

Of course, it’s possible the Eye could cancel the reservation, a network insider said, cautioning that no final decision has been made about a post-Carnegie bash. It’s hard to believe CBS wouldn’t offer advertisers some form of food and drink, however.

“CBS has a lot to offer advertisers — both on the network and across the company,” one spokesman said. “This event is a key part of that outreach.”

CBS announcement follows much speculation that NBC plans to curtail its upfront this year, with NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker all but saying so in several public statements.

But the net has said it will still brief advertisers in some fashion — perhaps with a downsized presentation. This year reps the first upfront showcase under the new co-chairmanship of Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff, leading most to believe the Peacock wouldn’t walk away from the dog-and-pony show entirely.

NBC will also still participate in the spring upfront selling season.

The Peacock wasn’t saying much about its plans Thursday beyond confirming that “changes will be made to this year’s upfront,” according to an NBC U spokeswoman. “Plans are under way, and we’ll have an announcement soon.”

Those details could come as soon as next week, a person familiar with the situation said.

Fox supremo Peter Chernin has made it clear that his net will reprise its streamlined upfront presentation, which has been set for some time for May 15 at City Center in New York.

ABC is also sticking with its upfront plans, slated for Tuesday, May 13, at Lincoln Center. An ABC spokeswoman said this year’s event would be more “meeting” and less “presentation.” In other words, don’t expect a repeat of last year’s marching band, bingo game and performance by alt rockers the Fray.

A spokesman for the CW confirmed the network will be back at Madison Square Garden, with this year’s upfront set for May 15.

(Michael Schneider contributed to this report.)

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