In His Words: Koonin Describes His Upfront Save

Turner’s Steve Koonin will forever be known as the man who saved Turner’s 2011 upfront. After a power surge zapped the video at the cabler’s Wednesday presentation, leading to a long delay, Koonin took the stage and killed with an impromptu stand-up act.

And all that after he was just sitting in the crowd as a spectator.

“I was sitting in my seat and we had been rehearsing for two days, so I knew right away something was wrong,” Koonin told me right after the show.

“At first I just figured it would be okay because everyone would think it was a Conan joke,” he continued, referring to the late night host’s on-stage act.

“Then when nothing happened for awhile, I went backstage, and said ‘I think I need to go out there and do something.’”

Koonin, who was slated to close the show, was already miked up, so he was stage ready. But before walking out, a stage manager told him to hold on, that they needed to introduce him.

“Yeah, I don’t think you do,” Koonin told him. And the rest is upfront history.

After the great performance, fellow exec Michael Wright walked out on stage and offered Koonin a 10-episode deal.

“I’m going to hold him to it,” he laughed.