LOS ANGELES In a tenuous economy, the upfronts, the sales presentations staged for media buyers by television networks, can be a nervous time. But the overall sentiment at this year's events seems to be optimism for a better year than last, and the Disney Media Distribution International Upfront was one example of showiness and returning confidence. Disney Media Distribution executive director for marketing and publicity Evelyn Geraci tapped Russell Harris Event Group for the production at Walt Disney Studios, which kicked off L.A. screenings, unveiled new fall prime time series, and acquainted international buyers with the talent and producers behind shows. Other studios are hosting events this week and screening their new programming through Friday.
“ABC picked up more new shows this year, with some returning, which is a very good sign,” said event producer Russell Harris. “I think more dollars will be put toward fun and dramatic programming to increase television viewership. A lot of great shows were lost in the 2008 writers' strike, and I think we're all ready for some fresh new drama.”
About 650 people, including talent, turned up for the event. The guests were international distributors from countries like China, Japan, Malaysia, England, Germany, and Sweden. The production-heavy event necessitated coordination with Disney Studio Operations, security, and union teams.
The upfront coincided with the much ballyhooed final episode of ABC series Lost, which screened on the lot with high security for V.I.P. guests. After the screening, the group proceeded to Legends Plaza for the presentation, for which Harris's team installed a 12- by 22-foot LED screen. Talent presented each of their shows for the distributors.
After the hour-long presentation, Legends Plaza opened for the after-party, where the focal point was a custom projection by Bart Kresa Designs on the Team Disney building. Catering came from Aramark's new catering division, LifeWorks Restaurant Group, which recently took over the food management contract at the Disney Studios. Guests stayed until midnight.