If there's one thing we love about upfront season, other than the goodie bags and day drinking, it’s talent poking fun at the network that invited them. We’ll have to wait a few weeks for Jimmy Kimmel’s zinger-slinging performance at ABC’s wingding, but some smaller nets have offered up a few LOL quips at their springtime shindigs.
Crackle rented out New York City Center, where Bryan Cranston took the stage to talk about the new season of his animated comedy, SuperMansion. He may not have been entirely familiar with Crackle before doing a deal with the streaming service. “Snapple is a refreshing beverage, but is it a platform?” Cranston deadpanned.
A day later, IFC hosted an upfront press lunch in the private room of trendy restaurant Upland. Cranston’s mug was on the screen for the announcement about Todd Barth Can Help You, a comedy he is producing about an unlikely self-help guru. Then Seth Meyers stepped to the podium to talk about the new season of Documentary Now! Meyers took in the, uh, cozy basement surroundings, did that Seth Meyers smile, and quipped, “IFC said, ‘Join up with us and you’ll play the big rooms.’”
The new batch of mockumentaries isn’t exactly marketing gold, Meyers admitted. One, about door-to-door globe salespersons, is in black-and-white; another, an homage to chicken and buttered rice, is entirely in Spanish. “This is what happens when you give creative license to show creators,” Meyers cracked.
IFC introduced another way-offbeat comedy in Stan Against Evil, starring John C. McGinley as an everyman who sets out to kill the demons that haunt his town. IFC described it as a little bit Simpsons (former Simpsons scribe Dana Gould is the creator) and a little bit The Walking Dead.
Speaking of Walking Dead, the show has a big fan in David Hoselton, exec producer on new Fox series Houdini & Doyle, which he describes as an“Edwardian X-Files.” Alas, he can’t watch the AMC show with his missus. “She hates the gore,” Hoselton says. “I tell her, it’s real characters; it’s real drama. But every time she walks in, someone is being eviscerated.”
And back to those upfronts. As long as there’s smirking talent onstage around this time of year, this you can count on—someone is being eviscerated.
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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.