Upfronts generate one-liners

Networks haul out the stars to woo ad crowd

Click here for complete upfront coverage.

Last week, network executives presented new series and lineups to advertisers and the press, trotting out their stars and behind-the scenes talent in the annual May bid to woo precious ad dollars.

Some highlights from Variety’s Team TV coverage:

  • At the TBS presentation, Conan O’Brien’s talkshow lead-out, George Lopez, chimed in, noting that “50 years ago, a redhead and a Latino made TV history. We’re a same-sex Desi and Lucy.”

  • So much for the speculation over whether O’Brien would tape his new TBS show at his old “Tonight Show” space on the Universal lot. O’Brien has instead been handed the keys to Warner Bros. Studios’ Stage 15, where his TBS yakker will originate.

    “I can’t wait to interview the cast of ‘Jersey Shore’ on the same lot where they filmed ‘Casablanca,’ ” said O’Brien.

  • If the Turner upfront at the New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom was opulent, its after-party in the evening (in honor of Adult Swim) was decadent. The surreal atmosphere at Gotham Hall included trippy animation of Stewie Griffin as a giant caterpillar projected on the walls and peep show boxes featuring live, nude rodents.

  • Katy Perry opened the CW presentation show by singing a couple of numbers, apparently unclear that people in suits are not there to behave as if they’re at a rock concert.

    “Is it too early for you to stand on your feet and have some fucking fun?” she asked the crowd.

  • What really stood out at CBS was its willingness to bet on unorthodox leads, albeit surrounding them with more conventional supporting players. What other network would dare build shows around a corpulent couple, Jim Belushi, 60-something Tom Selleck and 70-something William Shatner?

  • Jimmy Kimmel at the ABC upfronts:

    “You people never learn, do you?” He quipped to advertisers. “We know you have money this year, so don’t try to act poor.”

    On NBC: “Jeff Zucker is building a 40-ton cement containment dome that he hopes to lower over the fall schedule.”

    “NBC canceled ‘Law and Order’ and picked up ‘Law and Order: Los Angeles.’ The last time NBC took a show that was based in New York for 20 years and moved it to L.A., it wound up as the lead-in to George Lopez on TBS.”

    Rim shot!

  • “The Good Guys,” from creator Matt Nix, has wowed Fox execs as episodes arrive. The blue-sky, humor-filled cop actioner appears to be the right show at the right time, net execs believe.

    What’s more, moustaches are suddenly hip again. And “Guys” star Bradley Whitford sports the monster of all cool ‘staches in the show.

  • At the Peacock, Alec Baldwin opened the presentation by asking media buyers to let NBC be their “potentially dangerous, hot Eastern European hooker,” and not surprisingly, it was mostly downhill from there.

  • At Turner upfront, Turner Entertainment Networks prexy Steve Koonin thanked Jay Leno for triggering the move of Conan and “Southland” to his networks.

  • With “$#*! My Dad Says” getting picked up at CBS, William Shatner has now toplined shows on each of the Big Three nets:
    “Star Trek”: NBC, 1966-69
    “Barbary Coast”: ABC, 1975-76
    “T.J. Hooker”: ABC, 1982-87
    “Boston Legal”: ABC, 2004-09

    (He actually headed a short-lived legal drama on CBS in 1965, “For the People,” but that was before he was “TV’s William Shatner.”)

    Now if only he’d done a Fox sitcom back in the day…

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