The Paramount upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall largely focused on its new streaming platform, but it was a broadcast staple that offered the event its theme. 60 Minutes, currently in its 54th season, provided the presentation’s framework.
“You may ask, why make 60 Minutes the theme for this year’s upfront?” asked JoAnn Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer. “60 Minutes has informed America with bravery, style and sophistication” for a long, long time.
Upfront presentations tend to last a long, long time, but Ross promised an hour.
“Let’s start the clock,” she said, and 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley came out with the clock ticking.
Pelley spoke about how the company has deftly adapted to reach viewers, and users, wherever they may be. He then introduced late-night host Stephen Colbert. When Colbert was asked to present, he said, “I leapt at the chance…to read my contract and find out I had to.”
He spoke about the company name changes during his time on The Late Show, from CBS to ViacomCBS to Paramount, and “next week, whatever Elon Musk renames us.”
Wayne Brady came out to host the game show Climb That Mountain!, with Tony Dokoupil, Nate Burleson and Nicole Byer as the contestants. Trivia questions about various Paramount components, be it Pluto TV and EyeQ, were asked.
60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl followed the game show, and spoke about reality TV, including The Real World, Survivor and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Paramount has “a portfolio of reality programs like no other on television,” said Stahl.
Anchor Norah O’Donnell offered an interview on video with Tyler Perry, who has eight shows in the works at Paramount. “The relationship with Paramount has been incredible,” he said, noting the “immediate give-and-take in the relationship.”
Thirteen years after Perry was interviewed on 60 Minutes, “the reach of Tyler Perry’s work is larger than ever,” said O’Donnell.
The cast of CBS comedy Ghosts came out for a little song and dance, with Ross turning up, in costume, a little too late for the number.
James Brown spoke on video about live sports, with Tony Romo and Burleson weighing in as well, and Burleson teasing the next NFL game on Nickelodeon, Broncos versus Rams on Christmas.
Jim Nantz popped up in Tulsa, where he’s covering the PGA Championship. “CBS Sports is synonymous with golf coverage,” he said.
Gayle King of CBS Mornings introduced Kevin Costner and Kelly Reilly from Yellowstone. George and Tammy, about George Jones and Tammy Wynette, got a tease from Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon, and Sylvester Stallone spoke about Tulsa King, his project with Taylor Sheridan. “I love every day on the set,” he said.
60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker spoke with BET CEO Scott Mills about the Content for Change initiative that began at BET, and expanded companywide. Content for Change pushes for more and better Black representation in television. Mills mentioned “the impact of media on our aspirations, our beliefs, our values,” and how the initiative can improve quality of life for many in America and beyond.
Sir Patrick Stewart was next, speaking of his mission “to create innovative, diverse and engaging entertainment,” as a bevy of new programs rolled across the screen, including CBS newbies Fire Country and So Help Me Todd.
ParamountUpfront.com offers a better peek at shows, Stewart shared.
Vanessa Lachey of NCIS: Hawai’i shared the 2022-2023 schedule on CBS, and James Corden, who is departing The Late Late Show in 2023, came out to say goodbye. “It’s ten past 5,” he said, “so the 60 minutes thing didn’t work out, did it?”
Like his late-night colleague, he took a shot at the various corporate names during his time on CBS. “Whatever name they give us next week, I will absolutely love it,” Corden promised.
Drew Barrymore then saluted Corden. “You burst onto your show like a comet and you lit up the world,” she said.
LeAnn Rimes and Mickey Guyton performed a musical number, and Ross returned, apologizing for the presentation going long, and saying that any complaints can be emailed to James Corden.
“Thank you for your partnership,” she said to the marketers in the room. ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.