Final Thoughts About This Week's Upfronts

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Upfront ended with Shaquille O’Neal and Conan O’Brien riffing hilariously on Shaq’s ubiquity in TV commercials ranging from Icy Hot and Papa John’s to the car insurance brand, The General.

The Fox Upfront ended with Tom Brady and Michael Strahan joyfully shouting as loudly as they could: “Let’s f-----g go!” 

Oh, well, different strokes for different folks, right?

The f-word emerged as a recurring theme or motif of the Fox Upfront held Monday afternoon.

The reason can be laid at the feet of Gordon Ramsay, who has made the censored use of the word somewhat of a trademark on his overheated kitchen shows.



Speaking of laid, a short segment at the NBCU Upfront promoted a new scripted series (possibly a comedy) called “Laid.” 

It’s about the sex lives of young women. One of the women in a promo trailer was concerned that every man she had had sex with had died. And so, she lamented, “My vagina is killing people!” 

I looked up the show on Wikipedia and learned that NBC has had this concept, based on an original Australian version, on a shelf since 2011.

And now, an exclusive peek inside the TV Blog’s Upfront Week notes:

After scribbling a few lines about the vulgarity of “Laid” at the NBCU Upfront, I began my usual litany of criticism and praise. Or to put it another way, nitpicking. 

To wit: In a scene in a promo for the new NBC series “Brilliant Minds,” the eccentric protagonist was seen diving into the East River for a swim.

But a voiceover said it was the Hudson. Sorry, NBCU, the Queensboro Bridge does not span the Hudson River.

In a segment convened to promote next season’s 50th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live,” “SNL” cast members Kenan Thompson, Bowen Yang and Heidi Gardner came on to do some Upfront banter. 

“Crickets,” wrote the TV Blog about the audience’s reaction in Radio City Music Hall to the quips of three members of one of the most storied comedy series in TV history.

Later, Thompson returned to the stage with Kevin Hart so the two could promote their Summer Olympics comedy commentary show “Olympic Highlights.”

Referring to the Olympics to be held in Paris, Kenan said he is proud to wear a beret. And I thought: Then why didn’t someone give him one to wear right now?

I learned something I did not know during this Olympics segment: Break dancing has become an Olympic event for the first time.

I liked the entertainment provided by Michael Bublé about halfway through the Upfront. Accompanied by a big band, he sang “You’re Nobody ’til Somebody Loves You.”

He was good, but Dean Martin was better, I wrote for no apparent reason.

Later, Seth Meyers came on to do a monologue. The joke that resonated the most with the audience of ad people: “NBC is launching a new adventure competition series called ‘Destination X’ or, as it was originally titled, ‘The Linda Yaccarino Story’!”

A performance by Kelly Clarkson ended the show. She sang her two best-known songs, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” and “Since You Been Gone.” Great job, Kelly.

Disney staged its usual sprawling Upfront at the cavernous event space on the northern end of the Jacob Javits Center.

The show began with an appearance by none other than Disney’s boss of bosses, Bob Iger, who informed everyone that he had not appeared on an Upfront stage since 1994.

What struck me was: He wore no tie, his jacket was too tight and in a very brief long shot, it looked like his pants were too long and in need of alteration. Maybe the corporate jet lost his luggage.

Shortly afterward, Jim Gaffigan took the stage to promote new comedy content on Hulu. “Hey, can I do my bit now? I have to go and buy Bob Iger a tie!” Gaffigan said, a line that may have been pre-scripted or simply ad-libbed by him.

The best part of the Shaq-Conan act that closed the WBD Upfront was a presentation of fanciful Shaq endorsements, complete with logos and packaging seen on a large screen.

“In the time that Shaq’s been out here, he has signed deals with the following products,” Conan said.

They included: Shaq and Decker, ShaqBook laptop, Shake Shack Shaq, Shaq Plaque Attack Dental Floss, Shaq Kerouac “On The Road” travel books and more. 

It was comedy written with the event’s ad-industry audience in mind, and it killed.

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