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Upfront, Downscale: Can You Run a Network Without Those Little Chicken Kebabs?

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TV’s annual May “upfront” presentations—in which the big broadcast networks announce their fall programming for advertisers—are coming up in two weeks, but word is they’ll be different this year. For starters, there will be less schedule to announce: NBC made its fall presentation early this month, while the writers’ strike aftermath has affected fall development at all the networks.

More important for the TV reporters and advertising-firm staff of the world, however, the presentations will be much more no-frills, and most will not be followed by the immense cocktail-and-passed-hors-d’oeuvres parties that lubricated the beginning of ad-sales dealmaking in years past. Also, where past upfronts were gala presentations, with big gatherings of stars and stunts like ABC president Steve McPherson tango-dancing at Lincoln Center, these will be shorter and focused on business.

Not necessarily a bad thing, actually: the bloated, two-hour-plus presentations of recent years had made advertisers grumpy, and personally I’ve tended to skip the post-show libations lately anyway. I’m more concerned whether there will be any actual news coming out of them, with fewer new fall shows slated (so far) to premiere—it’s not exactly exciting news to announce the second premiere of Private Practice.

But I’ll provisionally still plan to cover whichever upfronts I can get into, on the chance there will be some news about projects of interest (like Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse and J. J. Abrams’ Fringe at Fox). Anything you’re curious about for fall?