The network upfronts were, as always, stuffed with heavyweight industry executives-even Disney CEO Michael Eisner put in an appearance. But, it turns out, the execs and the talent were upstaged by the late-night comedians who were brought in for a little relief. Jimmy Kimmel, at ABC and NBC's Conan O'Brien provided what many regard as the more truthful presentations. Mr. Kimmel suggested ABC would get great ratings if they just installed a camera at the company's Burbank headquarters with all the head rolling that's been going on. "We're going to get the 11 former heads of programming and put on some kind of show called, `Who wants to run ABC?'... Really we didn't want `The Apprentice,' it was a little too close to home ... you're fired, you're fired. ..."
Most buyers were impressed with the ABC presentation made by Stephen McPherson, ABC's latest president of ABC Primetime Entertainment. Mr. McPherson elicited a few whoops from the crowd, when he said: "I am as competitive and driven an executive as you'll ever meet. Winning is what it's all about."
Over at NBC, Conan made fun of the company's new war horse "Joey," the "Friends" spinoff, and presented a host of look-alike photos of the top executives, comparing none-too-pleased Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, to a loaf of Wonderbread. "At least I'm not toast," he quipped.