Jimmy Kimmel is in his element as host of the Oscars, but he really shines at the Disney/ABC Annual Upfront. Except this year, of course.
The WGA strike robbed TV Advance Week 2023 of its pizzaz (but not necessarily its pizzas, there was a lot of food passed at parties). All the writers were otherwise busy in midtown Manhattan while WGA members picketed every initial presentation up to that point and basically canceled Netflix’s one altogether.
At the Disney/ABC advance at the Javits Center, we saw about 100 walkouts outside prior to the event. Scheduled to start at 4pm, organizers have asked attendees to arrive by 2.30pm to clear security. Other events had similar security settings, but opened their doors 60 minutes before curtain call. Disney is a particularly popular event to attend, but the company was probably happy to have guests inside before the picket line got too long and loud.
Once inside the huge venue, we had the anticipation minus the joy: no actors, no comedic monologues. This is a particular bummer here, as Kimmel is the clear star of the upfronts every year. Even in 2022, when a positive Covid test kept him in Los Angeles, his live streamed stand-up was better than any in-person performance we’ve gotten. (Seth Meyers, the second best part of the upfronts, also skipped NBCUniversal’s Monday presentation in solidarity with the writers.)
Billed last year as “the late night king” by Rita Ferro, Disney’s president of advertising sales and partnerships, Kimmel joked, “I don’t know in which multiverse I’m the late night king, but I appreciate it. And let’s give another round of applause to Rita, the queen of bullshit.”
Kimmel may not statistically be the late night king, according to Nielsen ratings (Stephen Colbert takes total viewers, and he’s Jimmy Fallon among adults 18-49), but he’s definitely the king of advance. Watch his masterful 2022 opening monologue below.
This year, Ferro introduced all-time tennis great Serena Williams, who has an upcoming docuseries on ESPN. Former NFL punter and current podcast host Pat McAfee followed up with the unsurprising announcement that he’s moving “The Pat McAfee Show” to ESPN this fall. McAfee did his best to connect, but beyond a few brothers in the crowd, it just wasn’t his audience. The photo of the newborn that McAfee pulled out eventually received much-needed applause.
The upfront also included a half-dozen teasers for Marvel and Lucasfilm series, including “Secret Invasion,” (“Hawkeye” spin-off) “Echo,” and “Loki” Season 2. For Lucasfilm’s debut, attendees watched a teaser-trailer of upcoming series ‘The Acolyte’, ‘Skeleton Crew’ and ‘Ahsoka’.
Next, Pixar shared footage from its first-ever series, ‘Win or Lose’. Hulu, which has ordered 20 new episodes of ‘The Kardashians’, has shared the trailer for ‘Only Murders in the Building’ season 3. Shogun”.
On Tuesday, ABC revealed its fall television schedule; it was all unscripted, except for “Abbott Elementary” reruns on Wednesday nights.