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Fox: Hot and Blue

Fox had the hottest upfront presentation by far last week, though not in the way network executives had hoped. The overcrowded, over-lit show was staged in an under–air-conditioned armory, leaving many of the 2,000 attendees fanning themselves and mopping sweaty brows.

The presentation, however, was barely at body temperature. Ad executives suffered through a plodding sports showcase and an arguably too-blue routine by Brad Garrett, star of the new sitcom ’Til Death, before collectively scratching their heads over the unknown host of Fox’s new Talk Show With Spike Feresten.

Meanwhile, Fox’s MyNetworkTV (MNT) couldn’t get any respect last week. Rival network executives and media buyers knocked it as a syndication provider, not a broadcast network. Its main rival, The CW, conspicuously left MNT off the grid in the schedules flashed on their jumbo screens, and Entertainment chief Dawn Ostroff pointedly referred to the five broadcast networks in operation.

In fine Fox tradition, TV Stations Chairman Roger Ailes preempted any insults with some digs of his own.

“If anything goes wrong today,” he said at MNT’s presentation, “we’ll blame [NBC Entertainment President] Kevin Reilly. NBC’s been doing that for years.”