If NBCUniversal’s Monday morning presentation was any indication, the week ahead will be a relatively low-key affair, with a lot of pitching, with very few details.
However, there will be one constant: standout writers.
Outside Radio City Music Hall on Monday, a crowd of more than 200 writers marched in front of the venue’s various entrances to call for a fair deal.
The strike was also present during the presentation itself, where the usual parade of actors and stars was replaced by a cavalcade of NBC News anchors, such as Willie Geist and Savannah Sellers, who introduced clip packs to the lineup of TV shows and movies. from the company.
“If you squint a bit, I could be Colin Jost,” Geist said, before taking a Saturday Night Live clip reel.
But the strike was also addressed openly, with executives resigning to navigate ahead of time with the uncertainty it will create.
“We also want to acknowledge the writers’ strike,” said NBCUniversal TV and Streaming Chairman Mark Lazarus. “We are grateful for the contribution writers make to our company and respect their right to demonstrate. It may take a while, but I know we will eventually get through this and the result will be a stronger foundation on which we can all move forward together.”
And during a clip pack of interviews with the creators of popular NBC shows (including Amy Poehler and Dick Wolf), the text at the bottom made it clear that the interviews were recorded in April, well before the strike.
There was even a gag in the opening track (a musical number starring “Ted,” the CGI teddy bear voiced by Seth MacFarlane) that, while clearly penned well before the strike, seemed to have been written with the work stoppage in mind.
“Peacock, huh? There certainly weren’t any comic writers in the room when that name was chosen,” MacFarlane’s Ted said, to the laughter of the crowd.
NBCU didn’t even shy away from last week’s news, with Lazarus also praising Linda Yaccarino, who left the company on Friday to become CEO of Twitter (Yaccarino was rehearsing for prep the day before her departure).
So what was more surprising today, being welcomed by a big-mouthed teddy bear? Or see me here on stage? said Lazarus. “In all seriousness, Linda and I have worked together for many, many years here at NBC and in our time in sales at Turner, and for her many contributions and for building an outstanding team here, we would like to thank her and wish her well Best .”
“I have heard from so many of you in the last 72 hours. And I can’t tell you how much that means,” added Mark Marshall, who succeeded Yaccarino as interim president of ad sales.
In fact, the biggest laugh on the morning was from a joke Ted made about Twitter “letting all the crazies back in”. (A buyer is nearby The Hollywood Reporter laughed and then said to their colleague “oh Linda.”)
The presentation itself was not only light on stars, but also on details. There were some clips from upcoming drama shows, comedies and reality shows, but not very many. And there was a segment featuring the lineup of anchors from NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC. And of course there was a rousing reel for the 2024 Paris Olympics with singer-songwriter Grace Potter as shots of American athletes in Paris played on screen behind her.
But while recent years have touted the breath and depth of programming, this year’s upfront has been more of a corporate clip show, highlighting all the bits and pieces and betting buyers will still bite.
There were musical performances, with Potter also joined by Reba McEntire (a new judge on The voice) and Kevin Jonas (a former mentor on The voice), and lots of clips, but little buzz (despite Ted’s unexpectedly topical Twitter joke). It was, in the words of a buyer who walked out beforehand, “low energy”. And that could set the tone for a week of uncertainty.
As attendees left Radio City, guild members handed out fliers accusing NBCUniversal of “breaking the law, breaking unions, and negotiating in bad faith.”
Not the kind of swag companies have handed out to participants in the past.