Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Upfronts Fever -- Catch It!!! -- ABC and NBC Edition

If you aren't following our Zap2it upfronts coverage, you have my pity. We have it goin' on. And I'm not just saying that because I was up at 4 this morning so that I could be in the office by 5 to listen to Stephen McPherson tell me that "Desperate Housewives" was hitting a creative peak (tee-hee) and to downplay the fact that after having a fantastic development season two years ago -- the year "Lost," "Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" resurrected the network -- he hasn't developed a single scripted program to achieve even minor success. The survivors from last season are the fluky "Dancing with the Stars" and "What About Brian," which goes down as this year's Jake In Progress Award Winner for most bizarrely renewed ABC series. "Jake," if you'll recall, aired exactly once before McPherson and company realized that the reason that nobody watched the show the spring before was because nobody wanted to watch the show regardless of the season.


If you haven't seen the fall schedules...

NBC's is here...

ABC's is here...

A series of thoughts:

What's With All The Numerals? NBC has "30 Rock," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "20 Good Years." ABC has "Six Degrees" and "The Nine." I'm already a bit confused. It doesn't help that "20 Good Years" and "30 Rock" (That's "50 Rockin' Good Years" for crossover purposes) are on consecutively for NBC, nor that "30 Rock" and "Studio 60" are the same show.

Did I Mention NBC Is Airing The Same Show On Consecutive Nights: This was a strategy that worked very well last year when NBC aired "Martha Stewart: Apprentice" and "Donald Trump: Apprentice" and nearly started a war between the show's respective stars and nearly killed that franchise. It was last summer at the TCA Press Tour that I asked Kevin Reilly point-blank why he felt there was sufficient mandate for two nights in a row of "The Apprentice." He told me some trash about how they were different shows and it was just the way things worked out that they were airing the way they were. Mr. Reilly, you can expect the exact same question this year. I, for my part, will expect the exact same answer. All I know is that the audience watching "Saturday Night Live" isn't so massive that people are clamoring for two different versions of the behind-the-scenes story. Under normal circumstances, I'd have guessed that Tina Fey's sitcom would have been in more jeopardy than Aaron Sorkin's star-studded dramedy, except that...

Stephen McPherson Is a Stinker: On Monday, NBC made it clear that "Studio 60" was the centerpiece for the network's resurgence, a new bulkhead at 9 p.m. on Thursday nights and a return to the quality and upscale visibility that audiences used to expect from NBC. The NBC execs were able to exhibit confidence because they, like everybody else, were certain that ABC was moving "Grey's Anatomy" to 9 p.m. on Mondays. I wonder what Kevin Reilly's exact words were when he discovered that apparently Thursday is the new Monday. Suddenly, NBC is left with its crown jewel in position to get utterly throttled by both "CSI" and "Grey's Anatomy." Incidentally, regarding the "Grey's" move, I'd feel much better about it if ABC wasn't providing it with a dead-end lead-in of two anonymous sitcoms -- "Big Day" and "Notes From the Underbelly" -- which will probably get crushed by NBC's more established "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office."

ABC -- The Everybody's Joined Together Network: Apparently star vehicles are out of vogue at ABC, which may have learned a thing or two about recruiting film stars for disappointing TV projects from "Commander In Chief." Every single one of ABC's shows seems to be about a group of people, brought together by either chance, workplace, family or friendship, dealing with the wacky vicissitudes of life. Only "Day Break," centered around Taye Diggs, uses a single star as its selling point.

This Has Nothing To Do With Upfronts Only With Josh Schwartz Being A Little Silly: In an interview in this week's EW, Josh Schwartz, the talkative creator of "The O.C." tells an interviewer "I read that the show was going to be 'O.C.: The Next Generation and that's not true. The idea is not to do a 'Muppet Babies' version." I only bring that up because Alan and I were chatting with Josh back in January at a Press Tour party and he of new co-star Willa Holland, he declared (into a tape recorder), "I just think she plants a flag for next season for a whole new generation of 'O.C.' or as we call it, the 'Muppet Baby'-version of the show." Gee, I, um, wonder were anybody would have gotten any of those wacky ideas about "The O.C." sailing without a rudder, Josh.

And your thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:46 PM

    While I haven't liked the OC this season I'm starting to get the impression that Schwartz just says whatever he feels like to fuck with reporters. Now it's out that they shot 5 endings for the season finale? Last year he told people Oliver was coming back. I think it's safe to say he likes confusing people, making viewers have to guess and reporters look bad. Except with his storylins which aren't confusing but predictable, and make him look bad.