Lavish Network Upfronts Enter Historic New 'Nickel-and-Dime' Era

With the promise of Jeff Zucker's Old-Time Radio City Upfront Dog-and-Pony Show vanquished months ago by NBC's decision to unveil its 2007-08 schedule a full month ahead of the usual schedule, the news that other networks are downsizing their own upfronts isn't shocking anyone. The WGA strike that thwarted the networks' normal development schedule left most without any pilots to pitch to advertisers in the annual industry orgies, and even Les Moonves doesn't know what he's programming at CBS this fall. Sorry, L.A. staffers! Unpack your bags — you're staying put this year.

As such, we start this morning with a moment of silence mourning both the garish, glorious decadence of upfronts past and the new cashews-and-punch tradition effective immediately:

"It's a shame, because the end of year thing is important for people as a release, to mark the end of development season," [an] insider said. "But this year, there really wasn't a normal development season, so it wouldn't really be the end of anything." ...

Nets may announce fall lineups but forgo midseason announcements. With fewer cutdowns to show than usual, the network presentations are expected to be short and sweet this year. What's more, most nets have canceled their post-presentation parties (with the exception of Fox).

[ABC] plans on offering advertisers a "no B.S." presentation, laying out its strategy sans stunts and gimmicks. Net has just a handful of scripted pilots that will be done prior to its upfront, which means there won't be as many lengthy clip presentations as in years past.

The no-frills showcase is reportedly an ideal branding opportunity for ABC brass, whose extension of the "No B.S" tagline extends to a 45-minute overhead-projector presentation in the lunch room of its Columbus Avenue headquarters in New York, followed by a meet-and-greet with Sam Champion and tickets to The View. Not to be out- (or under-) done, Moonves will convene his own pitch under an oak tree in Union Square, with Letterman T-shirts and free Mister Softee ice cream for the first 50 advertisers in attendance. Truly, this is the new golden age.