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For Serious Journalists the TV Upfronts Are Merely Tourist Traps

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by Jon Friedman
May 17, 2013 11:13 AM
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Ah, what a big week for the TV biz. The upfronts -- when the networks show their upcoming shows to Madison Avenue in the hope of attracting ad dollars -- have dominated the industry this week.

Big deal.

For serious journalists, the upfronts are nothing more than glorified tourist traps -- things you do because you think it's cool and exciting and you want to tell your friends back home all about it because You Were There. But nothing really happens.

As usual, the media dutifully gave the presentations a lot of attention, lavishing coverage on programs nobody has seen and basically treating them all like surefire winners.

Because the networks said so.

I have never understood why otherwise serious journalists cover this series of rollouts so faithfully. I used to go,  mind you, a decade or so ago and I always found ABC's Jimmy Kimmel to be hilarious. It was kinda cool to see The Who perform on stage at a CBS upfront.

But that's all I really can remember.I don't recall any of the shows. I can't even remember leaving one of the upfront introductions thinking, That program can't miss!

But the TV media cover the proceedings, just the same. They give it a hard-news sheen, telling us how about comedies and dramas and so forth will be on and what retread movie stars will dip their toes into the small screen.

But the truth is that the vast majority of the new shows will fall flat and get yanked off the air in short order because they a) aren't very good b) have failed to find a substantial audience c) are too expensive to produce d) all of the above. The answer is usually "d."

And that is the real story of the upfronts: wasted money, wasted home, wasted time.



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