Monday Wake-Up Call: It's TV upfronts time. Plus, Xerox just jilted Fujifilm

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NBC's 'Will & Grace' revival, one of a growing number of reboots and resurrections on the TV schedule.
NBC's 'Will & Grace' revival, one of a growing number of reboots and resurrections on the TV schedule. Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. What people are talking about today: It's TV upfronts time. NBC Universal and Fox make their big pitches today to lure ad spending, and Univision's two days of presentations are starting, too. (Check out our calendar here.) Despite the ritual song-and-dance routines, it's an unsettling moment for traditional TV, since viewers are spending more time on digital platforms like YouTube and Netflix, and broadcast TV ratings are falling. As Ad Age's Anthony Crupi writes in a piece analyzing each network's weak spot, "Even 'Roseanne' can't salvage live TV ratings."
A data point: Young people in particular have deserted broadcast TV. The New York Times' upfronts preview (headlined, "Why traditional TV is in trouble") reminds us that the median age of viewers of ABC's top-rated "Roseanne" reboot is 52.9 years old. And the median viewer of the CW's high school drama "Riverdale" is … 37.2 years old. That's as low as it goes, when it comes to network shows.
Saved: NBC quickly grabbed "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" after Fox dropped it. The police sitcom "fits into our brand of comedy in many ways better than it ever fit into Fox," NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt says. NBC is dedicating a night to Dick Wolf in the 2018-19 season and will lean on reality programming next spring. Read more on NBC's upfronts announcements by Jeanine Poggi.

Stay up to date: Ad Age's pop-up upfronts roundup replaces the Media Buzz newsletter this week only. Read Jeanine Poggi's Sunday edition here, and sign up via this link.

FX effect
FX is on to something. Under John Landgraf, FX's "sure hand for cultivating talent to tell distinctive stories seems to have positioned it for a future when TV will more closely resemble Netflix than cable," writes Jeanine Poggi in this Ad Age feature. The ad-supported basic cable channel -- home to "Sons of Anarchy," "Fargo," "The Americans," "American Horror Story" and "Atlanta" – is set to get pulled into Disney, which plans to buy much of 21st Century Fox. (Comcast is working on a counter-offer.) What happens to FX's creative energy under new ownership? Donald Glover, the multitalented star who created dramedy "Atlanta" (and whose musical alter ego is Childish Gambino), tells Poggi: "I'm not worried about it. I believe if you buy a hammer, you don't try to screw a screw with it. People know what I am. People know what I do. If you're going to change the recipe, then I shouldn't be involved and that's OK."

The Chinese brand ZTE might not ring a bell, but it's at the center of trade battle between the U.S. and China. Last week the telecoms equipment and mobile phone brand said it said it was halting major operations after the Trump administration ordered American companies to stop supplying it with crucial components. But then came a rather startling weekend tweet from President Trump:

"President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!"

Um, excuse us, what? The Washington Post explains the turnabout: ZTE has "become a bargaining chip as the White House tries to extract trade-related concessions from China while pushing for cooperation on sanctions against Iran and North Korea."

On second thought
Xerox pulled out of a $6.1 billion deal to be taken over by Fujifilm, Bloomberg News reports. It's a win for activist investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason, who have been against the deal. Unsurprisingly, Fujifilm is upset: "We do not believe that Xerox has a legal right to terminate our agreement," it says, threatening a possible lawsuit.
Xerox nostalgia: Just for fun, because it's Monday, check out the Ad Age Super Bowl Ad Archive to revisit Xerox's classic 1976 spot starring a medieval monk who discovers the joy of not having to copy manuscripts by hand, with an explanation by Nat Ives. Apparently, there were concerns the ad might be seen as sacrilegious, until a Roman Catholic cardinal said he loved it. (Phew.)

Just briefly:
Another little jab at Facebook, maybe? "We reject the excuse that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy," said Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at Duke University's commencement this weekend. "So we choose a different path, collecting as little of your data as possible, being thoughtful and respectful when it's in our care because we know it belongs to you." Watch the speech on CNN.

Unsurprising news, part 1: "Fearless Girl" won Best of Show for McCann New York at the One Show. Read more by Ad Age's I-Hsien Sherwood.

Unsurprising news, part 2: "People have stopped naming their babies Alexa, thanks to Amazon," Business Insider writes.

It's science: Check out Anthony Crupi's depiction of the broadcast upfronts as a periodic table: the "elements of guile."

The royals in AR: Prince Harry weds Meghan Markle on Saturday, and the ABC News app lets us mere commoners "take a photo with your very own 3D royal carriage or pose with a 3D queen's guard."

Must-see TV, Europe-style: Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. And The New York Times writes: "In a glittery corset and kimono, Ms. Barzilai, 25, took the stage singing, 'I'm not your toy, you stupid boy,' interspersing the verses with arm flaps, beatboxing and chicken noises." You will not be disappointed by the video, we promise.

Creativity pick of the day: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of McDonald's Big Mac, "Brazilian ad agency DPZ&T persuaded Coke to create a limited-edition can with a Big Mac-inspired design," writes Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine. Because Coke and Big Macs are a classic pairing (and you're probably not washing your McDonald's down with LaCroix, after all.)

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