By Anna Sekula Posted May 17, 2011, 2:32 PM EDT
At its late-morning presentation at the Hilton New York on Monday, NBC answered a number of burning questions—whether Donald Trump will run for president, if reality singing show The Voice will be renewed for a second season, and how the network's brass view the role of new media and its impact on broadcast television. However, perhaps the most pertinent concern for the hundreds of ad execs in attendance was what changes will come from NBC's recent merger with Comcast.
To incorporate its answer to this into the show's performances, NBC opened the gathering with “Weekend Update"-style skit by Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers, who joked about the new parent company before poking fun at Meredith Vieira's departure from the Today show, Paul Reiser's canceled series, and the retirement of Regis Philbin. More comic relief came from late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon, whose reference to the merger was presented in the form of a song titled “Have a Comcastic Day.”
If anything, the event emphasized, as broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert put it, “a little less reinvention of the wheel and a lot more broadcast 101,” focusing largely on NBC's history of strong comedies and dramas and the “must see TV” tagline used during the 1990s. The message was clear in the upfront's visuals, which put the network's iconic logo and signature rainbow color scheme front and center—in the opening video, on the facade and lobby of the hotel, on the three-part stage in the grand ballroom, and throughout the post-presentation luncheon area. Additionally, black-and-white portraits of network talent like 30 Rock's Tina Fey, Rainn Wilson from the Office, and Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay decorated the walls and pillars.