Networks are starting to unveil key plans for Upfronts Week '09, that lavish rite of spring apparently unaffected by all this pesky talk of global economic collapse. Unless, of course, you work at NBC.
CBS is returning to Carnegie Hall as usual, where it will court advertisers with a presentation likely to benefit from clips from actual series — a luxurious stride from 2008, when the writers-strike hangover kept LA staffers home in bed and preempted virtually anything new from an audience with potential buyers. It didn't hurt at the time, reports THR, and the revived dog-and-pony shows by that network and others — the CW at Madison Square Garden, ABC at Lincoln Center — hope to surpass last year's $9.2 billion upfront yield. Fox changed its date but is still working out a venue; Turner will land somewhere posh, but sorry, folks: No Sting performances this year!
And NBC? After opting against last year's laughably hubristic "NBC Experience" potato-sack race down memory lane, it's anyone's guess. Maybe a reservation at the Rainbow Room, maybe they'll book a floor at the big Sixth Avenue McDonald's just a few blocks from Rockefeller Center. Or maybe all those Super Bowl tickets they're handing out while taking meetings this week in Tampa — call it the Way-the-Hell-Upfronts — may yet pay off. We think they're on to something: Anyone who watched the NFL season opener last year on NBC knows Jeff Zucker does have a special way with football fans. Take note, frontrunners.