Upfronts 2009: Advertisers Praise NBC Slate


Upfronts 2009: Complete Coverage from B&C

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Advertisers voiced support for NBC's line-up of new and returning shows, saying the handful of promising dramas and comedies unveiled Monday have the makings of a stronger fall season.

Shari Anne Brill, senior VP and director of programming for Carat, praised the network's "infront" presentation Monday to a select group of advertisers-including agencies OMD, PHD and Zenith Media, and clients like McDonald's-saying it was much improved over last year's.

"NBC's new shows are pretty good overall," Brill said. "I liked both Trauma and also thought Mercy had potential. Community will be a perfect fit with 30 Rock and The Office." She also praised the Q&A format winding up each session.

However, Brill was less enthusiastic about Day One; she found the sizzle reel for the post-apocalyptic drama a little too reminiscent of footage from the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and hopes NBC will edit the scenes out.

Trauma, which follows paramedics who respond to catastrophic emergencies, is filmed on the streets of San Francisco rather than the typical hospital back-drop. NBC President of Primetime Entertainment Angela Bromstad said the network had committed to spending on big action shots throughout the series rather than front-loading them in the pilot.

Mercy follows a group of good looking nurses as they outwit the doctors, and is reminiscent of Grey's Anatomy. Community features Chevy Chase and Joel McHale as they endure life in a community college.

Larry Novenstern, executive VP and managing director of local and national investments at Optimedia, said he was surprised David E. Kelley's Legally Mad wasn't picked up. But he was enthusiastic about the comedies 100 Questions and Community.

"I had a few laugh out loud moments," Novenstern said, adding that he saw good integration opportunities with Community.

As for NBC's decision to strip The Jay Leno Show at 10 p.m., Novenstern saw no downside. Brill said she wants a better sense of how Leno would be formatted for both content and commercial time.

NBC Universal President of Sales and Marketing Mike Pilot said he felt buoyed by the morning presentation to advertisers. "I thought we had four great looking dramas and comedies that made me laugh and the audience, and even made the press laugh, which was great," he said. "In my time here, we haven't had a more cohesive relationship between the West Coast [and New York]. It hasn't felt as good as it feels right now...everybody feeling good about what they're doing."

Not surprisingly, Pilot is most excited about the arrival of the Leno show, but also said he was partial to 100 Questions, Trauma and Mercy.Christine Merrifield, senior VP director of video investment at MediaVest, said she was a little surprised at the decision not to tailor selected dramas for their earlier time slots as a result of Leno's placement at 10 p.m.

She was one of a number of buyers that felt they didn't have a strong enough handle on the upcoming show and whether Leno would be doing the live commercials himself or whether they'd simply be part of the run of show. "I still don't know the format of Leno. I don't have a feel for the show." She added that it would be a disappointment if NBC set ratings expectations for Leno at a two rating.

Merrifield singled out two shows with potential, Community and Parenthood. "They're talking about real life situations with more co-workers and friends without going too far over the top."

NBC's infront presentation continues its tour through Wednesday.