With only a few new programs to showcase for the new season, CBS had a lot of time to kill during its nearly two-hour upfront presentation on Wednesday afternoon at Carnegie Hall in New York. It did so with a lot of chest-thumping, humorous bits and some well-aimed digs at the competition.
The “main event,” as CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler called the new show presentation, didn't begin until nearly an hour into the event.
CBS Sales President Jo Ann Ross kicked things off by promising that there would be “no hard sell,” and no bragging with a barrage of statistics to illustrate how great the network’s performance has been. Meanwhile, projectionists were flashing the word “BUY” and a barrage of statistics on the giant screen above her as she spoke, the stats punctuated with giant arrows pointing upwards to indicate the network's performance.
The network, said Ross, has “the greatest programming on earth.”
After Ross, the cast of "How I Met Your Mother" -- which will end after next season -- did a hybrid taped/live song-and-dance parody based on the "Les Miserables" song "One Day More," called "One More Year."
“I'd like to see the cast of ‘The Walking Dead’ do that,” quipped CBS Corporation President Leslie Moonves when he took center stage after the routine.
Moonves proclaimed that it had been “another championship season” for the network. It was a season full of “shining moments,” he added -- “except for a few moments at the Super Bowl,” a reference to the lighting malfunction that caused a delay in the game.
After tossing out some statistical highlights, Moonves said CBS believed that drama programming belonged in prime time -- "not at 7 a.m. or 11:30 at night.” While he spoke, images of a teary Ann Curry around the time of her "Today" departure flashed on the screen, along with pictures of Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon, the host and anointed successor, respectively, of "The Tonight Show."
Then David Letterman came out on stage and gave Moonves a hug that lasted what seemed like five minutes, getting laughs for the audience. “I’m honored to be here for your pledge drive,” he quipped. “Backstage they think I’m Bob Schieffer,” he added.
“You wrinkled my suit,” said Moonves -- after Letterman departed, but not before he had given the CBS CEO another big hug.
And so it went, with CBS officials repeatedly stating what seem like network mantras -- “America’s Most Watched Network,” and “number one today and number one tomorrow.”
The network presented brief clips of the new programs, which were announced earlier in the day at a press conference.