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Upfronts / Newfronts

The Best and Worst Moments From 2014 Upfronts and NewFronts

Made-Up Words, 'Happy,' and Performance by Pitbull

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This year's crop of upfront and NewFront presentations -- when TV networks and digital publishers pitch advertisers on their fall lineups and new content -- brought a new word, an unexpected tattoo and, as usual, a song you just can't shake.

Here's how the latest round of upfront pitches played out.

Most over-used made-up word: "Eventizing." The phrase, meant to suggest that the networks were turning mere programming into events that would compel live viewing, was used during both Fox and NBC's upfronts to describe live musicals, limited series and big sports contests.

Pharrell at YouTube.
Pharrell at YouTube.

Awkward silences. There was a series of odd quiet moments at the Turner upfront as stars of various TNT and TBS shows previews emerged following their respective sizzle reels, stood there for about 30 seconds without saying anything and then walked off stage. The appearances first drew a smattering of laughter, then more.

New theme song: Apparently, TV networks and digital publishers are all "Happy" as they scrabble for ad dollars. Pharrell Williams' catchy song played at more than a handful of upfront presentations, from The Weather Channel and NatGeo to Bravo and Oxygen's press breakfast. Mr. Williams even performed at YouTube's NewFront. Last year the theme song was "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons.

Time Warner Cable's event.
Time Warner Cable's event.

Complicated hashtag: Who puts an underscore in a hashtag? Time Warner Cable, that's who. At its NewFront presentation it urged attendees to Tweet using #thats_how

Funniest joke: "Paul [Lee, president, ABC Entertainment] said we're number one. We're number one? … The ABC I work at is not number one. In fact, we may need to crash on your couch for a while. Even Anne Sweeney was like, the hell with this, I'm out of here." -- Jimmy Kimmel at ABC's upfront.

Inconvenient venue: Media buyers and advertisers had to trek to the Jacob Javits Center not once but twice during upfronts for both NBC's prime-time presentation on Monday and NBC Universal's cable event on Thursday. At NBC's upfront Seth Meyers poked fun at the location: "What a great joy it is to be at the beautiful Javits Center, smack-dab in the middle of New York's stabbing district .... If there's a better place to do an upfront than the Javits Center -- sorry, I wasn't supposed to say 'if.' There's a better place to do an upfront than the Javits Center. That's better."

Pitbull at Fox.
Pitbull at Fox.

Oddest celebrity performance: Pitbull at Fox, surrounded by half-naked dancers, seemed out of place. He has a New Year's Eve special coming to the network, which is quite possibly just as odd.

Best video spoof: Raymond Reddington, James Spader's master criminal on "The Blacklist," identified some of the top "assassins" among media buyers.

Zenith's John Nitti: "'The Roman Candle,' a quiet assassin and digital extortion expert ...."

Initative's Kris Mage: "'The Analyst,' who painstakingly combs through every bit of data as if each encounter were a move in a high-stakes chess match ... He just goes on and on... The guy can literally bore his victims to death ...."

OMD's John Swifter: "'The Swiffer,' alias 'Swifty.' Greed is too nice a term to describe his intense level of self-interest ...."

Carat's Andy Donchin: "'Carrot Top,' a destructive, high-maintenance, psychotic killer known for his far too lengthy negotiations and possible multiple personality disorder."

Alan Cumming at CBS.
Alan Cumming at CBS.

Oddest Moment: Video showing the face of CBS's head of ad sales, Jo Ann Ross, superimposed on a woman doing an aerial dance to Pink's "Try." The words were replaced with "Got to get up and buy, buy buy." Coming in a close second was another CBS spoof. Alan Cumming stripped from the power suit he wears as Eli Gold on "The Good Wife" to the much more revealing outfit he wears in another role, Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub in "Cabaret," and eventually showed the audience a CBS eye on his ass. When CBS head honcho Les Moonves returned to the stage he said he had the same tattoo in the same place, but would spare the audience the sight.

Kim Kardashian and Linda Yaccarino.
Kim Kardashian and Linda Yaccarino.

Biggest botch: Kim Kardashian took time out of planning her wedding to Kanye West to hang out with Linda Yaccarino, ad sales chief at NBC Universal, whose E! network run the Kardashian shows. Then Ms. Kardashian both messed up reading from the teleprompter and drew more attention to it by claiming she usually never messes up at the teleprompter. Never change, Kim. (As screw-ups go, however, it was far better than the 2011 Turner upfront, where the power went out mid-presentation.)

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