Upfront 07

Superheroes and Cylons Meet at the Meatpacking District

Road to the Upfront: Sci-Fi Channel

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The Date: March 22, 2007
The Venue: STK, New York
Key Execs: Jeff Zucker, president-CEO, NBC Universal; Bonnie Hammer, president, Sci-Fi Channel and USA; Mark Miller, exec VP-sales, Sci-Fi and USA; Mark Howe, exec VP-general manager, Sci-Fi
The Food: Given that the event was held in the Meatpacking District, it seems fitting that the menu offered up every carnivorous option imaginable -- a fully stocked bar of shrimp and oysters on a half shell; lamb chops; chicken satay skewers with a Thai peanut sauce; and mini-cheeseburgers for the plain Janes. For dessert, a trio of liquefied options, including Creamsicle sorbet and a Coke float.

Having done the hard sell at a series of luncheons, Sci-Fi broke out its stars for some strictly schmoozy fun.
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The Drinks: The night's drink of choice -- a cosmo on-the-rocks with a kick -- was spotted in the hands of many revelers, while champagne and wine also flowed just as freely.
The Ratings Game: Sci-Fi dropped 11% to an average 523,000 adults 18-49 in prime time, following a hugely successful 2005.

We're a little more than halfway through the cable pre-upfront season, so what better way to celebrate such a milestone than with a party for Sci-Fi Channel that didn't mention a thing about ad sales? No, seriously.

Having gotten its upfront event for advertisers out of the way -- which consisted of two wine-and-dine sessions at Gordon Ramsay's At the London -- Sci-Fi was ready to have a little sales-pressure-free fun and serve up a host of talent for its 2007 shows. That included everyone from costumed characters from upcoming reality show "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" to select stars from "Battlestar Galactica" to Alan Cumming and Zooey Deschanel, two of the marquee names who start shooting the upcoming "Tin Man" miniseries this week. Ms. Deschanel, in fact, had to leave the party early so she could make it to a 5 a.m. shoot in L.A. on time.

Sci-Fi also has a new name for its viewers, following a study it conducted with criteria based on Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" that found the Sci-Fi audience to be composed of "media mavens" and "innovators" -- which we think are just other words for bloggers and techies.

Either way, Sci-Fi certainly has a passionate fan base for the likes of its hits "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Dresden Files," which will return this year along with "Ghost Hunters" and an upcoming reality series based on British "mentalist" Derren Brown.

With an original programming slate as varied as its party's menu, Sci-Fi could make 2007 a ratings turnaround. Just don't tell the "Battlestar" fans that the fourth season probably won't start until early 2008.
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