This is the time of year when it's way more fun writing about television than watching it. The U.S. network upfront week in New York isn't the gold-plated media circus it once was (what is?), but it's still beats the hell out of Jon & Kate Plus 8.
Take Jimmy Kimmel, for instance. The late night talk show host led off Tuesday's ABC upfront at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York with a sizzling set of jokes aimed right smack in the face of the advertisers out front and the network executives in the wings.
As reported at the New York Times, Kimmel savaged the whole proceedings. "He went too far!" said Wanda Sykes, who really didn't say that at all.
Among his barbs:
To the advertisers he said, “Every year we lie to you and every year you come back for more. You don’t need an upfront. You need therapy. We completely lie to you, and then you pass those lies onto your clients.”
Goofing on the new ABC reality show Shark Tank (a version of the hit CBC series Dragon's Den, featuring two Canadian Den judges), Kimmel pointed out that the show can't last. After all, "it has the word 'tank' right in the title."
He ridiculed NBC's plan to schedule late night rival Jay Leno every night at 10, "even if we have to destroy our own network to keep him.”
Then he goofed on Leno (and his older-skewing demos), saying his new 10 o'clock timeslot gives "Jay’s viewers exactly what they want. An early-bird special.”
He also cracked that 24 was "a head butt away from cancelation" and that Jack Bauer's new sidekick next season "would be played by Kiefer Sutherland's probation officer."
As for his own network's No. 1 show, Kimmel told advertisers that “Next year on Grey’s Anatomy, your product could kill Dr. Izzie. It just depends on how much you want to pay.”
Kimmel's upfront assault, as Nikke Finke points out, is exactly what the young ad crowd expects. Check out her list of edgy upfront fare from past comedian hosts such as Drew Carey, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman and even Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog.
Also check out the full report on ABC's 2009-10 season announcement at the New York Times (where all thos upfront stuff is piled high and ready to read).