TV Upfront

Oxygen Kicks Off TV Upfronts Pitches (Yes, It's Only February)

Party to Promote 'The Face' Does Double Duty

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Nigel Barker at Oxygen's party for 'The Face,' which the network used in place of its traditional upfront bash
Nigel Barker at Oxygen's party for 'The Face,' which the network used in place of its traditional upfront bash
Naomi Campbell at Oxygen's party promoting 'The Face'
Naomi Campbell at Oxygen's party promoting 'The Face' Credit: Oxygen

The Oxygen cable channel got the annual TV upfront presentations under way last night with a party at New York's Marquee nightclub that looked like something out of New York Fashion Week.

Fashion Week is actually imminent, however, unlike TV networks' traditional upfront calendar. Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Hallmark didn't begin last year's cable upfront presentations, where networks pitch ad buyers on their upcoming schedules, until mid-March. Oxygen held its party on April 25. And the big broadcast networks and biggest cable channels didn't convene their lavish affairs until mid-May.

But this year Oxygen decided to use a party promoting a modeling competition called "The Face" in place of its traditional upfront presentation and as a starting point for a road show with advertisers, part of its effort to talk with ad buyers more regularly.

Last night the faces of "The Face" -- supermodels Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha, along with photographer Nigel Barker -- introduced the series, joined onstage by a choir.

Ms. Campbell gave a shout out to NBC Universal's Bonnie Hammer: "I hear she is the new boss." Ms. Hammer was promoted earlier in the week, receiving control of cable networks such as Oxygen that had reported to Lauren Zalaznick.

Ahead of the party, Oxygen announced a first-look development deal with talk show host Wendy Williams. Her first project is "Secret Celebrity," where celebrities wear disguises to find out what fans, family and friends really think of them.

Oxygen also said it will boost its original programming 20% in 2013 and expand its schedule of original shows to three nights a week from two. As part of its original programming lineup, Oxygen ordered the pilot of a pop-culture talk show, "This Week the Award Goes To..."

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