This is the week the TV networks hold their “upfronts,” presentations for the ad-buying community to let them see the new fall shows and try to get them to buy commercial time on them. For the last 11 years, the ABC upfront has included an appearance by Jimmy Kimmel, who does nothing but blast his network and the others, as if it’s a roast — and he’s not only funny, he’s right on the money. A sample:
Every year we tell you we have a dozen great new shows that people are going to love, and you give us millions of dollars and we put them on and most of them suck, but here’s what’s crazy: Next year you’ll come back and do it again. Every year I wonder, what is wrong with these people? Someone needs to talk to them about their spending! Then it occurred to me, maybe this is a good place for me to sell some of my shit. This is an HP printer, inkjet color copier – $20, no power cord. I’m also selling a Palm Trio cellphone, Verizon, $40. Works pretty good. I’ve got three parrot cages available – make me an offer. And finally, this Bud Light Golden Wheat neon sign – classes up any place, yours for only $175.
But that’s not why we’re here. The reason we’re here is because you are about to invest billions of dollars in a network that rolled a 400-lb. comedian off a diving board last week.
This is an interesting time in television history. It’s a time of great change. We’re seeing more diversity than ever before. ABC has a big hit with the first show in almost 40 years on which the lead actor is an African-American woman, and at the same time more and more traditional white male characters are being portrayed as morally ambiguous, dangerous, and self-destructive villains – Walter White on “Breaking Bad,” Don Draper on “Mad Men,” Matt Lauer on “The Today Show.” The list goes on.
And yes, it’s true, every year our audience does get smaller. To which I say every year Apple products get smaller and nobody has a problem with that. One of the shows previewed today was written by a 3rd grade class – your challenge tonight is to figure out which one it was.