Upfront 07

Bill Clinton, Boomer President, Likes His 'I Love Lucy'

Road to the Upfront: Viacom's TV Land

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The Player: TV Land
The Date: March 23, 2007
The Venue: The Rose Theater at Lincoln Center, New York
Key Execs: Jeff Lucas, exec VP-national ad sales, MTV Networks Entertainment Group; Larry Jones, president, TV Land
The Special Guest: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton
The Food: No, no Big Macs. Just a boomer-friendly variety of hors d'oeuvres ranging from prosciutto-wrapped asparagus to flatbread with crab.
TV Land President Larry Jones wants to get Bill Clinton a Nielsen box.
TV Land President Larry Jones wants to get Bill Clinton a Nielsen box.
The Drinks: A fully stocked open bar for all the ad buyers to toast an early end to the week on a Friday afternoon.
The Ratings Game:The classic-TV network averaged 984,000 viewers in prime time in February.
The Programming Slate: "Scrubs" and "Just Shoot Me" are the newest syndicated acquisitions to the Viacom net's still-thriving schedule of "I Love Lucy," "Bonanza" and "Brady Bunch" reruns. The channel will also venture into reality programming with a new series for George Foreman, a Laverne and Shirley reunion called "Penny and Cindy" and "The Big 4-0," which chronicles life after the trip over the hill.
The Buyer's Verdict: Michael Parent, associate media director for OMD, believes a boomer-focus stretches the upper halves of the 18-49 and 25-54 demos only so far, but TV Land could still benefit in ratings. "The demographic is growing, so ratings should improve. [Boomers] have more time to kill, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to watch TV Land."

We've grown accustomed to seeing network presidents making the rounds of the cable upfronts this year, but American presidents are another story. TV Land snared former President Bill Clinton for its event for advertisers, billing him as the first "boomer president" to tie in conveniently with their new focus on the 40-plus demo.

"I came here because you should have some baby-boomer viewer to appear in front of advertisers to say they're beautiful, aging, graceful people," President Clinton said at the start of his 45-minute speech. He then revealed himself to be a dedicated TV Land watcher himself. "I'm catching up on all my Lucy and Archie Bunker reruns. 'Bonanza' I especially missed. Because the wife's otherwise occupied, I'm home a lot."

During a post-speech Q-and-A, TV Land President Larry Jones cracked, "We just need to get you a Nielsen box."

Though politics and social responsibility were key talking points in President Clinton's speech, he also answered previously filed questions from the audience on other topics. One media buyer wanted to know his most endearing memory from his presidential tenure (Chelsea's high school graduation), while another inquired about the most significant person he ever met (JFK was a standout from his teenage years, but the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabim left the most lasting impression).

The 42nd president shed more light on his media-consumption habits in his chat with Mr. Jones. An avid basketball fan, he used the score from the previous night's NCAA match between Tennessee and Wisconsin to make a flawless comparison to the nation's current political divide. He also considers "Grey's Anatomy" the best show on TV, is a devotee of the "uber right-wing" "24" and a frequent follower of "Boston Legal." "The dynamic between James Spader and William Shatner on that show is something to behold," he said.
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