TV Upfront

The Upfront's Best Moments, Most Awkward Moments and Worst Hashtag

Auto-Tune Is Kind of 2012, Isn't It?

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Jo Ann Ross, president of ad sales at CBS, avoids the hard sell at the upfront.
Jo Ann Ross, president of ad sales at CBS, avoids the hard sell at the upfront.
Every year the big TV networks go all-out presenting their upcoming schedules to ad buyers, and every year some efforts work better than others. Here's how the latest round of upfront pitches played out.

Best Ambiance: AMC. In an approach resembling an amusement park fun house, the network recreated the "Breaking Bad" meth lab, complete with rock candy to resemble that show's distinctive "blue meth," and had lurking zombies give buyers chills over missing out on "The Walking Dead" -- or having to pay up for it.

Worst hashtag: #NBCFall, which was easy to mistake for the very critical hashtag going around last summer during NBC's Olympic coverage -- #NBCFail.

Most heart-warming moment: The standing ovation for Barbara Walters at ABC's presentation, which came on the heels of the announcement that she will retire next year.

Most awkward moment: The CW letting its teen stars speak on stage.

Funniest jokes: Jimmy Kimmel at ABC's upfront, where he reminded ad buyers how hard it remains to pick a winner.

It's time to stop calling this an upfront and start calling it what it really is. Throwing a bunch of sh*t at a wall to see what sticks. And guess what, you guys are the wall.

NBC is on a roll -- oh wait, not a roll. What do you call it? A spiral. It's important to remember when you cancel one Matthew Perry show, three more rise up to take its place…They're planning a 12-day long game show called The Million Second Quiz. The top prize is $10 million, which is pretty amazing. Not the prize, but the fact that NBC has $10 million.

The thing that's important to remember is that last year NBC made a show starring a monkey and a lot of you bought advertising on it. So clearly none of us have any idea what we're doing.

Best/worst venue: Pier 36, which has beautiful views of the East River but left attendees dispersing afterward struggling to hail cabs under the FDR Drive and nowhere near the subway.

Throwback trend: Auto-tuning a montage of TV show clips into something resembling a melody. Both Fox and ESPN did it.

Oddest celebrity performance: Kanye West, of course. It was hard to tell if it was really Kanye performing at Adult Swim's infamous party under the haze from smoke machines apparently on overdrive -- until he let loose a rant against the paparazzi and proclaimed that he would not do any kind of skit about his recent blow-up at photographers when he appeared on "Saturday Night Live" that weekend.

Here's a taste (profanity included):

Welcome "subtlety": "We are not going to give you a hard sell, because at CBS we don't need to," said Jo Ann Ross, president of ad sales at CBS, as her skirt lit up with statistics and messages showing the Eye network's successes.

Repeats: Two networks riffed on the "Les Mis" song "One Day More." The cast of "How I Met Your Mother" performed the show tune in a video, thanking CBS for "One Year More" as the series enters its final season. And NBC's now-and-future "Tonight Show" hosts Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon sang it in a video clip with the chorus "Eight Months More" -- the amount of time until Mr. Fallon takes over.

Omnipresent Music: The band Fun provided the de facto soundtrack of upfronts, while Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" served as the backdrop for several trailers and montages.

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