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NEW YORK We thought last year’s first upfront presentation party for Cartoon Network’s animation-for-grownups programming block, “Adult Swim,” was a crazy spectacle, with its costumed characters and eclectic entertainment in various stages of undress. But it hardly prepared us for this year’s even more over-the-top event at the Altman Building, which was imagined by Jacob Escobedo of “Adult Swim,” with assistance from Brandon Lively, and overseen by Cartoon Network senior marketing manager Eric Goldstein. Zoom Media’s Lauren Austin produced the party.
After the network execs’ pitch to advertisers (which was peppered with cartoon clips, and hardly dry), the pink and black curtains that surrounded the cocktail space raised to reveal a wacky carnival setup on all sides—complete with games, funhouse mirrors, a freak show, and bellowing carnies.
For a new twist on a typical gift bag, guests won their Adult Swim swag by playing games—like roulette, a ring toss, and a ball toss. At one booth, guests were encouraged to step right up and kiss a drag queen while friends snapped photographs (a peck on the cheek earned a tote bag, and a kiss on the lips earned guests’ choice of animated series on DVD).
Downstairs, the mood was even more surreal: Zoom decorated the space to resemble a bizarre outdoor bog—with live moss underfoot, branches overhead, and dry ice bubbling from a faux swamp. (“We dyed the water with food coloring to make it look murky and revolting,” Austin said.) On the bog, a girl wearing a unicorn costume and carrying a plush chainsaw danced beside Cuban crooner Margarita Pracatan, who covered hits by Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears—and a little Barry Manilow for good measure—while playing a Casio synthesizer. If the party didn’t get potential advertisers to buy, it certainly proved Cartoon Network’s willingness to experiment with unique programming.
Cartoon Net Gives Grown-ups Kid-Style Fun