On Monday night, the scene outside Gotham Hall felt more like a Hollywood premiere than a TV upfront. As the television personalities—Jonas brothers and Kardashian sisters among them—hit the red carpet set up on Broadway for the event hosted by E!, a crowd of teenage girls screamed from behind barricades. Inside, the setting was calmer, with a relaxed configuration of lounge seating and a businesslike color scheme.
Formerly owned by Comcast, the property now under the umbrella of NBC Universal took the opportunity to debut its new brand campaign and logo, a look dominated by black and white with pops of bright hues, at its first large-scale upfront in New York. To emulate the network's new design, the internal planning team, helmed by vice president of special events Wendy Schellinger, tapped Los Angeles-based Swisher Productions to produce an evening that was, as the invite claimed, “less upfront, more fun.” As a twist on the typical presentation setup, designer R. Jack Balthazar created lounge-like areas with black and white furnishings arranged in clusters, with bright-colored pillows and florals for added color, reflecting the new campaign's look.
“The challenge was to create a chic, lounge environment that would provide seating and viewing for the presentation, and then transition into an after-party within the same space,” said Maggie Swisher of Swisher Productions.
With that in mind, the grand ballroom was converted into a more modern environment. White drapes covered the granite walls, capped at the top with black crown molding for a clean finish; a large chevron rug hid the marble floor. For additional seating—and to create a more impressive passage into the main space—the production team built second lounge on an elevated platform.
To host the event, the channel called on Ryan Seacrest, who explained the network's “brand revolution,” slated to launch officially in the U.S. and Canada May 9. Also in the works are nine new scripted series and a second night of reality TV. The stage also saw appearances by Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian, with mom Kris Jenner, Ice T, Chelsea Handler, and Fashion Police host Joan Rivers, who got the biggest laughs of the night.
To close out the presentation and kick off the ensuing reception, popular rap rock band Gym Class Heroes and British singer Neon Hitch hit the stage. After the show, dubstep dancers came out and the stage became a dance floor, with music spun by DJ Vice.