Variety’s TV team brings you all the news and dish from TV’s biggest week of the year.
Day three of 2016 upfronts kicked off with the Turner presentation, which brought TNT, TBS, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, TruTV, CNN and HLN to Madison Square Garden. Later in the day, CBS will take over Carnegie Hall, marking new president Glenn Geller’s first time helming the ad buyer presentation, followed by the network’s party at the glitzy Plaza Hotel. Late night, Nicki Minaj will headline the Adult Swim party, which always brings about swarms of millennial ad-types for an unpredictable concert.
Stay in-the-know with our daily Upfronts Diary, and keep refreshing the page for new updates throughout the day and night.
CBS press breakfast, Studio 19 at Black Rock, Wednesday morning
Ahead of his first upfront presentation as CBS president, Glenn Geller greeted reporters for breakfast, along with CBS exec Kelly Kahl and head honcho Leslie Moonves. The trio unveiled the network’s 2016-17 schedule, as always, at the long-standing tradition morning event, and then engaged in a Q&A with members of the press who caffeinated with coffee, plus lox and bagels, scrambled eggs, bacon and the works.
Geller teased the future of “Limitless,” the only CBS show to remain on the bubble. He was also asked about “CSI,” teasing, “It may come back in another incarnation.”
Turner upfront presentation, Madison Square Garden, Wednesday morning
Anderson Cooper, Charles Barkley and Conan O’Brien opened the show in a mock debate setting and proceeded to hash over everything from future of TV — “that is not my expertise,” said Barkley — to the former basketball player’s sweatpants. Shaquille O’Neal, Andy Richter, Wolf Blitzer, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper lent a hand. Later in the presentation, Cooper introduced a CNN sizzle reel to tour his network, saying, “With all due respect to our friends at TNT, there has been more drama on CNN this year.”
Samantha Bee wowed the crowd. First, she thanked her “hate watchers” for her late-night show’s success, and then, she got right into trumping politics. “Premiering this election season was a f–king gift from heaven so thank you Jesus…or Satan,” the “Full Frontal” star said, later adding, “I sincerely hope we get to do this [show] ’til the end of time…which, based on this election, might be soon.”
Even the “Powerpuff Girls” made a Donald Trump jab. After a clip from the Cartoon Network show was shown, the end-card read: “Make America Cute Again.”
Anthony Bourdain got a huge round of applause as he walked onto the stage at Madison Square Garden where coffee and cups full of donut holes and yogurt parfaits were passed around to upfront-goers.
Billy Eichner gave Jimmy Kimmel a run for his money with a hilarious standup routine. Eichner, whose “Billy on the Street” airs on Turner’s TruTV, gave a sobering assessment of the television industry. “I was struggling for years on YouTube before finally getting a TV show that people watch on…YouTube,” he said. (He also knocked Comedy Central for not choosing Bee to host “The Daily Show,” after Jon Stewart’s departure.)
CBS red carpet, Carnegie Hall, Wednesday afternoon
Kevin James told Variety there are slight similarities between his “King of Queens” and “Kevin Can Wait” characters. “Well, it’s me…They’re all elements of myself in all those characters,” he said. “This one, a little bit more because of my family life, but there’s always some exaggerations and fun stuff in there as well.”
Michael Weatherly just ended his 13-year run on “NCIS,” but he’s back on CBS with “Bull,” a new legal drama. “It’s an extraordinary coincidence that they had a show available and timeslot available,” Weatherly told Variety and other reporters on the carpet. “It feels magical and I am deeply grateful for this opportunity.”
Bill Paxton got a message from Denzel Washington through “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua, who’s exec producing the CBS revival of the 2001 movie. However, Paxton’s co-star, newcomer Justin Cornwell, says he has not had the chance to chat with the Oscar-winner about rebooting the drama for TV. “I wish I could! I hope to talk to Denzel,” he told reporters. As for the rumors that original film star Ethan Hawke could appear in the series, Cornwell said, “I don’t have any information about Ethan Hawke coming in, but I know in the original script, he was going to be my lieutenant, but after some re-works, he is not. It’s always up in the air. You never know what’s going to happen over the course of the season.”
Joel McHale, who toplines the upcoming comedy “The Great Indoors,” showed off his personal iPhone videos and photos to press members on the carpet, including this Variety reporter — McHale shared a real-life video of him climbing down a frozen mountain with his “Community” co-star Jim Rash, and a picture of him dressed up as Chevy Chase for his upcoming Netflix film.
CBS upfront presentation, Carnegie Hall, Wednesday afternoon
James Corden not only had an upfront-esque “Carpool Karaoke” segment shown during the presentation, but also performed in the week’s third “Hamilton” performance. (The first was at NBC’s upfront with Jimmy Fallon — which Lin-Manuel Miranda wants to watch — and then at ESPN’s upfront with real actors from the Broadway phenomenon.)
The ultimate showman Moonves raved about “CBS This Morning’s” growth. He said the morning show is for “people who want to keep up with the news, rather than keeping up with the Kardashians.” Scott Pelley, Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King were all on-hand at Carnegie Hall.
CBS showed longer-than-usual clips of their new shows — each about four to five minutes long. McHale‘s “The Great Indoors” got loud applause, and seemed to be more well-received than James‘ sitcom “Kevin Can Wait” and Matt LeBlanc‘s “Man With a Plan.”
Adult Swim party with Nicki Minaj, Terminal 5, Wednesday night
Nicki Minaj headlined Adult Swim’s annual jam-packed bash at Terminal 5. The rapper showed of some very sexy dance moves and then surprised the crown with a dance contest, bringing some lucky audience members up on stage. The Turner concert was geared toward millennials with an emoji-decorated step-and-repeat, and high-spirited party-goers spotted taking shots at the open bar out of hot pink plastic shot glasses.