Monday, May 16
Ah, the broadcast-network upfronts week is upon us, the time of year in New York when twentysomething media buyers wonder which TV celebrities they'll be posing with for network-arranged photo keepsakes, and when fortysomething journalists wonder how freely the Stoli and jumbo shrimp will be flowing this time around. If some of the journos at the Peabody Awards luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel today look a tad distracted, that's because they're wondering what the heck NBC big shots Jeff Zucker and Kevin Reilly are saying in their annual prime time preview conference call (the upfront's at Radio City Music Hall at 4 p.m.). Care to join the call as Z&R discuss their comeback strategy? Just dial #&#*X%@* and punch in the passcode &X?$@%!#—oops, sorry, we don't want to cause some sort of telephonic logjam where people's calls don't get through. That's what American Idol is for.
Tuesday, May 17
Last week the Rolling Stones announced their world tour and played a few songs at Lincoln Center, an event that stirred cherished memories of past performances even as it also provoked some apprehension about whether the guys can still put on great shows. Kind of like the sub-current at ABC's upfront at Lincoln Center today, where network execs and ad buyers alike will fondly recall the past year's performances of Desperate Housewives and Lost and wonder if ABC will put on more great ratings-grabbers (though the seemingly iffy prospects of Housewives 'n' Lost at the 2004 upfront will make skeptics think twice). Tonight: Those product-placement fiends at Alliance place their own product at the Marquee club in New York, where the upfrontal schmoozing is less likely to involve sober discussions of the emerging sense of the fall programming landscape than the hoarsely-shouted comparing of notes about last night's William Morris Agency boozefest at the Four Seasons restaurant. Now where did that waiter go?
Wednesday, May 18
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Today, just follow Les Moonves' dial car, unless he hoofs it over to make the case for CBS. The Viacommando should be armed to the teeth with good news about the resurrected network and its fall prospects. News junkie alert: This may be the day when Mr. Moonves finally puts a bullet into the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes. How to tell if it's going to happen: execs on the entertainment side have an extra spring in their step, giddy at finally getting a shot at the time slot.
Thursday, May 19
Fox Television rolls into City Center in New York with the perennial dream of announcing the show that will become another monster like American Idol, or another long-running cash cow like The Simpsons, or maybe just a middling success like That '70s Show. Here's hoping—just for the peace of mind this week of everyone, Fox execs, media buyers and reporters alike—that this year's slate doesn't prompt anyone to say, “Hey, that reminds me of Method & Red.” D'oh!
Friday, May 20
Now that all the upfront frivolousness is over, the industry can get back to the serious business of handing out trophies. The Daytime Emmy Awards air in the nighttime (9 ET) on CBS. The nominees for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show are Jeopardy!, The Price Is Right and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire—which, come to think of it, are all phrases that we could have sworn we heard earlier this week.
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