Network Upfronts 2005

They came by the busload to Gotham last week: Twenty- and thirtysomething ad buyers converged on the weeklong sales pitch known as “network upfronts.” Sure, there were deals to be made — but not before the parties, where open bars and snapshots with talent enticed advertisers.

The carousing started at Rockefeller Center with NBC, once a “Friends”-fueled behemoth now trying to convince Madison Avenue that scheduling tweaks and Martha Stewart will stop the ratings freefall. Spirits were higher the next day at Lincoln Center, where ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” randomly pulled John Rash, a starry-eyed buyer from Minnesota, out of line to take a picture. “I couldn’t tell my wife that I had come here and not met the cast,” he gushed.

Just as exhaustion set in, CBS turned up the glitz factor by shuttling buyers to Tavern on the Green in Central Park to mingle with the stars of “Survivor” and “CSI.” Fox’s usually raucous bash at the Central Park Boat House wrapped up festivities with “Stacked” star Pamela Anderson and air-hockey games.

All the while, agencies like UTA and William Morris hosted their own powwows, where the moguls got together to make the rounds. At WMA’s party alone, Jeff Zucker, Les Moonves, Tom Freston, Ron Meyer and Howard Stringer were seen at the Four Seasons rubbing elbows with Melanie Griffith and Rebecca Romijn. Not seen: any Page Six representatives.

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