A long week of presentations and schmoozing culminated with last night's Fox upfront party at Central Park’s Wollman Rink. The current ratings winner brought in talent like David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, Eliza Dushku, Paula Abdul, and about a half dozen So You Think You Can Dance contestants to meet and greet the extremely excitable 2,000-person crowd.
The 2008 Upfront Week ended up being a lot less different than most expected, but Fox staffers maintained from the start of their planning that they would not deviate from tradition. Vice president of special events Tomiko Iwata brought back the team at Angel City Designs, headed by president Mark Yumkas, to stage what many refer to as the wildest of the upfront parties.
“This year looks very different from last,” Yumkas said. “We had a giant pool of water in the main tent that looked very nice, but it restricted flow. It’s been replaced with a giant bar, and the crowd is moving much easier.” That giant bar, one of many, was fully loaded with flat-screen televisions playing clips and promotions of Fox shows, properties, and its slogan, “So Fox.”
Also a new decision this year was to make the transition from daylight to nighttime more visually engaging for the guests. The clear-topped tent allowed the first hours of the party to be naturally lit, so Angel City created colorful glass flowers and brightly hued plexiglass mobiles to hang from the ceiling. After dark, massive, tasseled chandeliers lit in different colors and neon rods illuminated the stage and the multilevel DJ booth.
The lively atmosphere wasn't so much a testament to the decor and production as it was to the throngs of guests who arrived ready to forget most of the previous four days. Boogie Nights, a ‘70s and ‘80s cover band, provided entertainment for the crowd that flocked to the dance floor just before 9 p.m. By the time the sun was fully out of sight, women, perched on coworkers’ shoulders, waved their arms in the air as fellow media buyers stormed the stage to sing “Just Like Heaven” into bottles of Bud Light.
And beer, or any other kind of alcohol, was not in short supply (as one media buyer found at last year’s party). More than 60 kinds of beverages were on display and up for consumption at the bars. Each of 10 food stands (including a sushi bar, a burger and fries station, ice cream sandwich trays, and even an authentic Brazilian grill that started roasting meats early that morning) remained fully stocked until the crowd started to thin after 10 p.m.
Stragglers got the boot at 11:30 p.m., and the tearing down began immediately. A hefty fine is issued if the production crew doesn't vacate by Saturday, as the rink’s summer tenant, the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park, moves in on Sunday. All traces of the party will be gone within 36 hours, even though construction of the tent took more than six days.
The tent itself sat on a flooring product new to the United States. Rola-Trac, designed by a British company for military use in assembling mobile bases, contains tubing for cables, clips into place like an erector set, and is strong enough to drive trucks over. “It’s a brilliantly designed product,” Yumkas said. “It’s green, it’s reusable, and I’ve never done a tent before where carpet installed so quickly and easily.”