After a busy broadcast TV upfronts so far, we can all use a drink. And that’s exactly what CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler suggested reporters and media buyers do directly after she wrapped the afternoon’s ad sales presentation.
CBS packed plenty of star power into its Wednesday event at Carnegie Hall with Mayim Bialik and James Corden“>James Corden taking center stage, sharing the spotlight and some punchlines with executives Tassler and CBS honcho Les Moonves. But everyone was there to see Stephen Colbert debut as the “real” Stephen Colbert and the former Comedy Central host did not disappoint, despite providing very little insight into what to expect from his September debut as “Late Show” host.
On the programming side, the lengthy scenes from CBS’s new series seemed well-received by the audience, especially the highly anticipated “Supergirl” and high-stakes medical drama “Code Black.” But America’s most-watched network was certain to look back as much as it looked forward, as one’s future ad sales are only as good as a network’s past performance. You know, unless you have Super Bowl 50 in February, which CBS pointed out probably no less than a dozen times.
But beyond all the financials and marketing mumbo-jumbo, here are 6 things TheWrap saw and heard at CBS Upfronts:
Open With a “Big Bang”
CBS President of Network Sales Joann Ross joined “Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik on-stage to open the show, both dressed identically as Bialik’s new TV character, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. The sight gag drew instant laughs as Ross was quite game — to her credit — but the payoff was limited. Oh well, Bialik and Ross and co. still have the biggest comedy on TV.
Introducing their newest commodity, CBS rolled an OK-at-best pre-tape video that featured Colbert, Les Moones, fake beards and an aging golden retriever. It was serviceable, but Colbert is better than the segment that resulted — especially considering how much time he and the Tiffany network had to put a piece together. Proving exactly that point, Colbert entertained the Carnegie crowd more live than in the rolled sketch.
Les Moonves Takes a Shot at a Foxx
Moonves, whose Showtime just enjoyed a massive payday thanks to their involvement in the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, dropped a few jokes at his Wednesday afternoon upfront — a requisite of a network boss in 2015. Among those jabs was one at multi-hyphenate Jamie Foxx, who belted out the national anthem at the aforementioned Las Vegas spectacle. Moonves assured the audience that Foxx would not be singing the hallowed tune at CBS’s upcoming Super Bowl 50.
Emmitt Smith Fumbles
And speaking of 2016’s huge gridiron game, Moonves and co. paraded out 8 Super Bowl MVPs to help promote the once-in-a-lifetime TV event, each carrying a golden football. Among those honored were local New York City sports heroes Phil Simms and Broadway Joe Namath. Former Dallas Cowboys great running back Emmitt Smith couldn’t quite hold on to his ceremonial pigskin, fumbling it across the stage, much to the delight of this New York Giants fan.
James Corden Goofs on “Supergirl”
James Corden has a pretty sweet CBS gig as new host of “The Late Late Show,” but it wasn’t the one he really wanted. The pudgy song-and-dance man was hoping to slip into the tights of “Supergirl,” a gig that ultimately went to Melissa Benoist.
“I don’t know where you are, but I know what you did to get that role and it’s disgusting,” he said. Corden added though that Nina Tassler sure enjoyed the faux audition.
CBS Execs Encourage Reckless Behavior
OK, not really. But Tassler had probably the best closing line of upfronts season so far. After thanking the media and media buyers in attendance, she simply summed up: “Let’s go day-drink.”
The line was a callback to Jane Lynch‘s character description in “Angel From Hell,” and also a real-life reference to the post-party at Lincoln Center.