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5:36pm: Tassler offering the CBS schedule, touting the Thursday night 2-hour comedy block, but folks are hitting the stairs. Time for the party!
5:26pm: Cutdown for Robin Williams laffer “The Crazy Ones” plays, and is very, very slow to start. A riff on a McDonalds song — with sex as the main element — got some solid laughs, but the clip struggled to pull consistent chuckles. Luckily, Williams took to the stage shortly after the cutdown, and had the aud cracking up with a spiel about the TV biz, cocaine and pitching fresh shows.
5:14pm: Silver lining — “The Millers” draws laughter within the first few seconds of its cutdown. Margo Martindale and Will Arnett are crowd pleasers.
5:10pm: Chuck Lorre’s new CBS comedy “Mom,” starring Anna Faris, is shown. It’s pretty dead in Carnegie Hall, and I can count the notable in-room laughs on one hand. At least the studio audience is laughing?
5:03pm: CBS diving more into the single-cam space with “We Are Men,” but it took a solid minute before the clip drew any substantial laughs in the room. With ABC’s “Mixology,” NBC’s “Undateable” and now CBS’s “We Are Men,” it seems the bro-com will have a solid run on TV this fall. But what will stick?
4:58pm: Strength of CBS’s comedy lineup exemplified when the reel of returning series garnered plenty of laughs in Carnegie Hall.
4:49pm: Tassler introduces new drama “Intelligence” starring “Lost’s” Josh Holloway, whom Tassler dubs “sexy.” Attendees next to me agree, whistling at his image on the big screen.
4:43pm: Since CBS renewed 20 series for new seasons, it’s not boasting the same number of fresh dramas and comedies as competitor nets — a luxury, in a way, since what the Eye already has out there is working by leaps and bounds, and open slots on CBS’s already-successful lineup are few and coveted, with strong lead-ins. Tassler has begun to intro the cutdowns of the handful new series, though, beginning with “Hostages.”
4:36pm, part deux: Event programming and event series continue to be the buzz phrases at this year’s Upfronts, CBS included with a very intriguing look at Stephen King’s “Under The Dome.” This journo can’t help but wonder if it’ll become the storytelling medium of choice for high concept shows that initially intrigue with a strong hook but have trouble being drawn out over multiple seasons.
4:29pm: *Takes time from watching reel to plug Twitter — @Variety_AJM for other Upfront tidbits.* Back to the news, with Tassler on stage.
4:23pm: “There are a lot of Jimmys out there, but there’s only one Dave,” Moonves says as he introduces David Letterman. “I’m honored to be here for your pledge drive,” Letterman opens. Short appearance, though, and Letterman departs the stage after only 2 minutes.
4:20pm: While introducing the success of CBS News is certainly a good call for the net’s Upfront, opening with dramatic footage from the Boston bombing to tout the network’s journalistic strength feels a little “too much, too soon,” and maybe insensitive. *Shrugs from the nosebleeds*
4:14pm: Cringe moment: Moonves says that drama belongs on primetime, not in the morning. On the screen behind him? The infamous shot of Anne Curry crying during her “Today” departure, Matt Lauer awkwardly comforting her. Moonves jabs again, referencing the Leno-Fallon debacle as well. The room chuckles uncomfortably but also groans. Next to me, one woman simply says, “Wow…”
4:10pm: Moonves puts a tweet from his supposed Twitter account on the screen — “CBS wins everything. #dropthemic” from handle @MoonMan1, which lands some guffaws. I am an internet lurker as a side hobby and that handle does not belong to Moonves. C’mon, CBS Social Media Team.
4:08pm: Les Moonves gives a nod to the infamous Superbowl blackout — crowd laughs, Moonves replies, “Trust me, it wasn’t so funny at the time,” before assuring ad buyers that the “lights are on” at CBS these days. Moonves has plenty to boast about during this Upfront, the final of the Big Four to present — he’s still riding the wave of Nielsen numbers that put his net at the top of the pack in total viewership.
4:05pm: Uh-oh — CBS opens with a clip of Eye series spoofing “Les Mis” song “One Day More.” It’s drawing laughs, but NBC spoofed the song during its Upfront with Leno and Fallon just two days ago. Brighter side: CBS version has live stage element and decorative yellow umbrellas. And Neil Patrick Harris. Point: CBS.
4:02pm: CBS presentation kicks into gear right on time. Sales prez Joann Ross sports a long, flowing skirt during her intro that has cheeky — and saucily placed — phrases and icons projected on it. “BUY,” her skirt reads just below her hips.
4:00pm: What’s more fun than an Upfront? An Upfront at Carnegie Hall. What’s more fun than an Upfront at Carnegie Hall? One without reserved seating. Anyone arriving at the event after 3:45pm was greeted with a daunting climb up several flights of stairs, huffing and puffing to the nosebleeds before the presentation began.