MediaFile

CBS upfront: Simon Baker, Jennifer Love Hewitt and L.L. Cool J

CBS made very few changes to its fall prime-time schedule, adding just one new comedy and three new dramas. Executives at the network contend that the lineup doesn’t need a makeover, given that it’s the only one to show an increase in audience ratings this season. Fair enough.

Still, even with just a handful of new shows to preview, CBS managed to keep the upfront presentation from being too dull. Some laughs, some cringing.

    Chief Executive Les Moonves played up the network’s ratings for 2008-09 and took mock offense at an L.A. Times story that pointed out that CBS isn’t the sexiest of networks. “Who says we’re not sexy. My wife thinks I’m sexy — or at least that’s what she tells me.” Crowd liked it. Crowd also liked Simon Baker, star of “The Mentalist.” Two female advertising executives sitting in front of me couldn’t get enough of him, snapping pictures with their phones etc. “I know what you’re thinking,” Baker offered. “Yes, I’m a little shorter in real life.” Laurence Fishburne reminded everyone that he’d been on CBS a couple of times before his current stint on “CSI.” One of those occassions? Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Sweet. Neil Patrick Harris took a page from his show, “How I Met Your Mother,” and offered a few of his character’s tips from “The Bro Code” for advertisers heading to upfront parties. Among some of the gruesome lines: “Article 176 C, if you wake up tomorrow morning in bed with Jennifer Love Hewitt, what happens at the upfronts stays at the upfronts.” “Article 176 D, if you wake up with Morley Safer, see Article 176 C.” “Article 150, a bro never dances with his hands above his head. Ever.” “Article 157, a good way for a bro to get a get in the mood at the CBS party is to suddenly mention the dirtiest sounding CBS shows. These include, but are not limited to ‘The Bing Bang Theory’ and ’69 Minutes.’” L.L. Cool J, who is set to star in NCIS: Los Angeles, actually came out on stage and performed “Mama Said Knock You Out.” You really had to be there. At one point, he urged a thousand or so buttoned-up advertising executives at Carnegie Hall to “Put your hands in the air, stand on your chair!”. Some did. Seriously. I only wish I had a camcorder.

CBS goes for stability in prime-time schedule

Here’s a look at the new CBS schedule, which will be presented to advertisers later today.

(New shows are in bold)

MONDAY

8:00-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

8:30-9:00 PM ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE

9:00-9:30 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN

9:30-10:00 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY

10:00-11:00 PM CSI: MIAMI

TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM NCIS

9:00-10:00 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES

10:00-11:00 PM THE GOOD WIFE

WEDNESDAY

8:00-8:30 PM THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE

8:30-9:00 PM GARY UNMARRIED

9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS

10:00-11:00 PM CSI: NY

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR

9:00-10:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

10:00-11:00 PM THE MENTALIST

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM GHOST WHISPERER

9:00-10:00 PM MEDIUM

10:00-11:00 PM NUMB3RS

SATURDAY

8:00-9:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY

9:00-10:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY

10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY

SUNDAY

7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES

8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE

9:00-10:00 PM THREE RIVERS

10:00-11:00 PM COLD CASE

Jimmy Kimmel at the upfront: Hey, we’re lying to you

Remember the days when the upfront presentations featured chart-topping singers, Broadway acts and drag racing, and lasted five or six hours? Most of that has disappeared over the past couple of years.

Today, these are largely low-key affairs. Executives talk about the importance of network TV, show a few clips from the new programs, promise to work closely with advertisers and call it a day.

Still, some stars do appear. ABC still trots out Jimmy Kimmel for a few laughs each year during its upfront presentation at Lincoln Center.

Fox upfront: Watch “Glee” and look for Kiefer at the bar

For those of you unable to make it to the Fox upfront today at the New York City Center (or skipped it and went straight to the party), here are some of the takeaways:

    Fox introduced its four new comedies and two dramas to its prime-time lineup, plus the Wanda Sykes show on Saturday nights. The best looking of the bunch was “Glee” — a cutting comedy, musical feel-good hour that has received some big hype. The show may be deserving, if the clip played for media, advertisers and affiliates today is any indication. It got a rousing cheer from the crowd. But not as rousing as the cheer for Kiefer Sutherland, who showed up (as he often does) to thank everyone for their support of “24.” He wrapped up by saying, “I don’t want to take up much more of your time, because I know you can’t wait to get to the party. It promises to be a good one. I will be looking for you… at the bar.” Nice one, Kiefer. Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly and Sales President Jon Nesvig took pains to remind the audience that broadcast network TV is not yet dead, and in fact still blows away cable TV and online video. They sounded a bit like newspaper executives. “All the noise and data I’ve seen over the last six months tells a great story about network television,” Reilly said. “Network TV is still the biggest branding opportunity out there.” Peter Rice, the new chairman of Fox Entertainment, made an appearance. The executive behind movies like “Slumdog Millionaire” as well as “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Juno,” and “Little Miss Sunshine” sounded happy as a clam to be over on the TV side of the business.  “In movies it just takes forever to finish a film. You can spend years, literally years, working on screenplays. Then another year shooting and editing. And perhaps as much as a year marketing. And when it hits the theaters, you all cross your fingers and hope it can do $100 million. If it does $100 million, you breathe a sigh of relief and throw a big party and it’s front page news,” Rice pointed out. “In the last eight weeks, I’ve come to realize that a $100 million movie actually translates to about 10 million people. That’s 10 million viewers. And that’s an average number of people who watch Fox every single night. With a show like ‘American Idol’ we deliver 26 million people from stage to screen at light-speed. Think about that: On Tuesday, ‘Idol’ reaches that total number of people who saw ‘Ironman.’  And then it follows it up the next night with the number of people who saw ‘Harry Potter.’ Those movies take weeks to amass that audience.

(Photo: Reuters)

Chrysler: Coming soon to a TV near you

As the New York Times puts it this morning: “Even after receiving $15.4 billion in federal loans, General Motors is once again on the brink of financial collapse.” The reason is that the automaker burned through $10.2 billion in the firs quarter, while revenue dropped by almost half to $22.4 billion.

Does that mean GM is heading for bankruptcy? Possibly. Does that mean more bad news for the advertising industry, which has been hard hit by the pullback in spending from automakers? Not necessarily.

Take, for instance, the case of Chrysler. Adweek reports that the company, after filing for bankruptcy protection, is launching a new ad campaign that will debut on May 11 during prime-time television.

NBC says upfront market too tough to call

Las Vegas should have a line on the upfront market, particularly this year. What’s the over/under on total dollars? What are the odds the networks will hold back big chunks of inventory? How quickly will everything be decided?

Every year the networks’ sales executives and the media buyers talk their books. Fair enough. But this year, many seem to be shrugging their shoulders when asked about the upfront market.

On the one hand, maybe advertisers are ready to open up their checkbooks; after all, they don’t want their brands left out if the economy rallies and consumers start to spend again. On the other hand, do they really believe the economy is about to rally and consumers are about to start spending again?

NBC Universal’s Zucker: Olympics still a winner

News broke this week that Anheuser-Busch has told NBC that the brewer will spend only about half as much on advertising packages during the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Summer Games in London, compared to previous years.

Over at 30 Rock, they aren’t too worried about it. NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker, who won wide praise for the company’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics, feels that there are plenty of advertisers ready to step in and replace any company that wants or needs to cut their spending on the sporting event.

When we asked Zucker about the Anheuser-Busch situation, he said, “The interest in the Olympics — because it’s such a unique event — has been extraordinary. Where certain companies decide it doesn’t work for them anymore, it provides an opportunity for their competitors to come in. That works out just fine for us.”

Dear advertiser, please come home

Nobody likes to be wrong, including the people who run media companies. That’s why you haven’t heard them say things like, “We think the advertising market is recovering!” At a time when every day might bring a fresh descent into financial hell as financial companies and automakers totter, media companies reeling from ad revenue declines are hesitant to say that they’ve hit a bottom.

But consider some of the comments that Viacom executives made during their conference call with Wall Street bean counters this morning to discuss quarterly financial results. Here they are as they appeared in the alerts we sent out on the wire:

    08:12 30Apr2009 RTRS-VIACOM INC’S <VIAb.N> CEO SAYS NOT SEEING ANY FURTHER DETERIORATION IN THE ADVERTISING MARKET 08:33 30Apr2009 RTRS-VIACOM INC’S <VIAb.N> CEO SAYS CUSTOMERS ARE STARTING TO FEEL MORE CONFIDENT ABOUT A RECOVERY EMERGING LATER IN THE YEAR AND GOING INTO NEXT YEAR 08:34 30Apr2009 RTRS-VIACOM INC’S <VIAb.N> CEO SAYS “WE’RE FEELING CONSIDERABLY BETTER” THAN TWO OR THREE MONTHS AGO

That sounds suspiciously like optimism. It also fits in with some of the comments that we’ve heard from newspaper publishers such as USA Today owner Gannett Co Inc. Magazine publisher and local TV station owner Meredith Corp had similar thoughts about the ad outlook.

Marc the software slayer’s new mission

Web-based software maker Salesforce.com has a new slogan.

The company’s brash founder, Marc Benioff, built a software business that generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue based on a slogan that makes you wonder if he is in the right business: “The end of software.” (He argued that he sells a service that customers access over the Web, not the traditional kind of software that companies install on their own computers.)

On Tuesday, Benioff rolled out a new slogan.

“It’s time to open up a new front in “The End of Software”– one that is long overdue,” Benioff said in an email to managers at the 10-year old company. “It’s time for The End of Maintenance.”

Salesforce is now going after the maintenance fees that the software industry has long charged for updates and bug fixes. With such costs ranging from 20 percent to 25 percent of the original price of the software, Benioff points out that means customers are paying for their software all over again every four or five years. For Salesforce and “software as a service” peers like NetSuite, Workday, SuccessFactors and RightNow, they don’t charge charge maintenance fees as all costs are included in subscription fees.

Advertising slump shows no signs of relenting

The news media may be preoccupied with Swine Flu and the Banking Crisis and the Auto Industry meltdown, but look beyond those hot topics and you will see a familiar story — you know, the advertising-business-is-getting-slammed story.

Advertising group WPP today said it would not meet its 2009 forecasts after quarterly sales fell 5.8 percent, as companies slashed marketing budgets. This comes after rival Omnicom on Monday reported that its first-quarter revenue fell 14 percent.

Interpublic needed a heap of cost-cutting moves — including job cuts — to help it post a loss that was smaller that Wall Street expected. Revenue fell nearly 11 percent — maybe that’s a case of it-could-have-been-worse for a company that counts General Motors as one of its single largest clients.