After skipping its traditional upfront after-party in 2008, CBS returned this year with a three-story event at Terminal 5 that made use of the network's shows in both the decor and the music. Each of the venue's three floors was crammed with crowd-pleasing bars, but food and talent proved to be a bit more elusive. Actors LL Cool J, Simon Baker, and Neil Patrick Harris were among the stars in attendance, but each seemed to get lost in the mob.
Guests who bussed over from CBS's Carnegie Hall presentation were greeted at Terminal 5 by a packed crowd. The second and third floors were both open for the party, but it took everyone a bit to circulate throughout the venue. With the help of Los Angeles' Along Came Mary Productions, CBS filled the space with projected clips of future, current, and historic programs on three transparent screens above the main floor and against the network's massive logo hovering over the stage. The television series also found their way into the music, with the DJ spinning mash-ups of current songs and vintage theme music. (It's quite likely no one had ever heard the Andy Griffith Show whistling over Beyonce's “Single Ladies” before last night.)
So was CBS's upfront party a welcome return? We spoke with 10 guests—three upfront first-timers and one 14-year veteran among them—who weighed in on what they loved and what they could have done without. Here are the grades they think the network earned:
Snooze Factor: 2 out of 4 Zs (“It's starting to feel like CBS has the same presentation every year. LL Cool J was definitely the best part.”)
Food/Bar: B (Most graders didn't make it through the crowds to the food stations. “They had some buffets [on the second level], but I feel like nobody was there. The first level was packed with waiters walking around with grilled cheese bites and mini quesadillas, but I didn't see any buffets. I didn't even make it upstairs.” “There aren't any lines for bars, and they've got beer on draft, which is always nice.")
Environment: B+ (“It's definitely a cool atmosphere in here—feels like a club. Is this a club?”)
Entertainment/Talent: B- (“People are saying the stars are here, but we only saw them outside on the red carpet.”)
Overall: B- (“I'm glad they brought their party back this year, it's just not the kind of party where I want to spend my whole night.")