Upfront 07

Buyers Like Fox's Brevity, and Some Shows Too

'Back to You,' 'Canterbury's Law,' 'Sarah Connor Chronicles' Get Some Love

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After five broadcast upfront presentations and one torrential downpour that fell on guests at CBS' after-party at Tavern on the Green, the clouds lifted on the 2007 upfront season at Fox's bash in Central Park's Wollman Rink.
Photo: Fox

Fox's entertainment president, Peter Liguori, gives a hug to one of his stars, Julianna Margulies.

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It was a shorter end than anticipated, too. After last year's presentation clocked in at a notoriously derided three hours, Fox whittled things down to one hour on the dot, thanks to the nefarious "24" ticking clock. The feat did not go unnoticed by buyers, either.

Asked for and delivered
"[We] were somewhat vocal for more streamlined presentations last year, and they clearly listened to that," said Andy Donchin, director-national broadcast for Carat. "I was really pleased with them all this year."

Though he appreciated the efficiency, Brad Adgate, director-research at Horizon, could have done with a little bit more explanation from the network's entertainment president, Peter Liguori. "One thing about the brevity is I was left wondering how they handle the whole season."

While big shows such as the Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton sitcom "Back to You" and New Orleans cop drama "K-ville" are slated for the fall, the most surefire hits won't come until mid-season, when Fox launches "Terminator" spinoff "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and the Julianna Margulies legal drama "Canterbury's Law," the latter of which was of particular interest to Mr. Adgate.

Big questions
Going into the night, the big debate was whether Mr. Liguori's goal to post stronger fourth-quarter ratings by adding a few strong new shows to the fall schedule was realistic. Jason Maltby, executive director of broadcast at MindShare, said with "House" firing on all cylinders and less sports pre-emptions, they have a shot at extending their ratings bench strength year-round.

"Monday night's strong with 'Prison Break,' 'Back to You' could have some legs on Wednesday. It looks good," he said. "The baseball absence certainly helps."

Mid-season comedy "The Return of Jezebel James" also generated decent buzz, though its main storyline of Parker Posey hiring her sister to be her surrogate as a mother had Mr. Maltby drawing comparisons to ABC's "Notes From the Underbelly." "Where's the story going to go after the baby's born?" he said.
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