My Upfront

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The seller: So what is presentation week like for a 30-something network TV sales executive? It's not as glamorous as one may think, but it sure is the most important week of his year. Even if he has very little influence over how things go.

Let's start with invites and credentials. The most important thing the sales executive needs to do is to make sure the clients actually come to the presentation. This starts a month or two before the big week as names are submitted by the ad agency's media group. And the revisions and calls about missing invitations don't stop until presentation day.

When not sending out last-minute invitations, there's still the normal day-to-day, filling that night's avails and dealing with the everyday fire drills of missing traffic instructions/tapes and pull-outs due to content. And of course it's tough to reach anyone since they are all at the other networks' presentations. It also just happens to be the same week as most of our season finales, so the problems are in the most high-profile and expensive programs.

Don't forget to make time for client lunches. During the hours when there are no presentations or parties, it's the perfect opportunity to have lunch with clients who are in from out of town.

Then it's presentation day (yay!). It really is an exciting yet nerve-racking experience to see what shows you will be selling next season ... and usually seeing them for the first time.

You start off greeting clients as they arrive and making small talk, not business talk ... except for chatting about what they liked at previous presentations. Then you take a seat at the back of the theatre so the clients have the best seats. But that's better, since you can get a real idea of what shows and what speeches are clicking and what's bombing (the people in the front are too polite to snicker or make jokes).


Then it's party time (yay!). And although we claim it's no big deal, it is fun to see the stars in person and take pictures with them-after the clients do, of course. Don't forget to make sure your clients are having fun, and to ask them what they think of the new shows, even if most people say good things while they're eating free food and sipping free drinks.

Also, make sure your support staff isn't getting too drunk or rowdy ... and that goes for yourself as well. After all that, it's time to decide whether to go to the post-party ... hmmmmm.

Then it's the day after (boo!). Actually, that's not bad either, beside the lack of sleep and possible-um, probable-hangover. This day is mostly about discussing with friends and/or bosses what we thought of the presentation, and, more importantly, what we thought our clients thought. There's also gossip over who made a fool of themselves or even better (or worse) who hooked up.

Then the guessing begins-or, rather, continues-as to whether next year's budgets will be up or down and when will they be submitted.

Then comes the calm before the real storm of upfront negotiations.


Presentation: Radio City Music Hall


May 16, 3 p.m.

Party: Summer Garden at Rockefeller Plaza

Likely celebs: Conan O'Brien, perhaps maybe even Jay Leno?


Presentation: Madison Square Garden

When: May 17, 10:30 a.m.

Party: Nope, get your drinks elsewhere.

Likely celebs: Chad Michael Murray, Amanda Bynes


Presentation: Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center


May 17, 4 p.m.


Tent just outside

Likely celebs: All the "Desperate Housewives"


Presentation: Carnegie Hall


May 18, 3 p.m.

Party: Tavern on the Green

Likely celebs: Sure to be plenty of detectives from "CSI" and "Without aTrace."


Presentation: New York City Center Theatre


May 19, 4 p.m.

After party: Central Park Boathouse

Likely celebs: Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan, Omar Epps

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