Media Buyers' Diaries: Adult Swim Fills the CBS Void

By Michael O'Connell & Courtney Thompson May 15, 2008, 4:07 PM EDT

A cell phone pic of Kanye West performing at the Adult Swim party

As Upfront Week soldiers on, our weary media-buyer correspondents keep working hard, playing hard, and sleuthing even harder at the presentations and parties. On Wednesday they went to the Turner Entertainment Networks presentation at Hammerstein Ballroom, the CBS Carnegie Hall presentation, and Adult Swim's Kanye West-fueled party at Spotlight Live. With most everyone already annoyed with CBS for canceling their beloved annual shindig at Tavern on the Green, presenter Rachael Ray’s stab at analogizing CBS syndication to a chicken barbecue sandwich (with Dr. Phil as the onions) did not win the network any fans. Here are our media buyers' takes on the busy day.

“Kelly Kapowski,” 30, is a senior media buyer in the broadcast department at MediaEdge CIA.

“The CBS upfront is notorious for their party at the Tavern on the Green. It’s the party of the year. It’s what we look forward to. We're all too aware of the hit CBS took over the past year, so we couldn't expect the lavish party, but that doesn't mean we can't be bummed it was canceled. Since I'm in local buyingand we're the stepchild for the industrywe didn't get invited to the celebrity-filled after-party. We went to Providence with local station personnel and CBS spot reps. On any other night it would've been a great party, but since this was the alternative, it was a downer. The sliders were too big to eat without a plate, and the crab cakes were too small to fill you up. The pizza with olives was good, but it paled in comparison to the extravagant display from Tavern on the Green. And the lack of celebs to gawk at just made it a drinking session with the CBS boys.

“There was great emphasis [at the presentation] about online, outdoor, and radio ads, which I felt was inappropriate. Upfronts should be about the new fall lineup, not a sales pitch for alternative advertising. All in all, my expectations this year were low and they were definitely not met.”

“Rudy Huxtable,” a 28-year-old broadcast department supervisor at Optimedia International US Inc., caught Turner's first showing at Upfront Week.

“I headed to the Turner presentation at 8:30 yesterday morning at Hammerstein. I was disappointed with the breakfast. I was really hoping for a full-on spread. Not so much. They were handing out coffee, and there were these little dishes with banana coffee cake and an apple strudel thing. Not my kind of breakfast. It was the first time Turner has ever done a presentation during Upfront Week, as they’re a cable network. I guess they’re trying to fit in with the broadcast networks. At the end they had the comedian from Frank TV do stand-up—he does all these impersonations, and he was pretty funny. All in all, it was super standard.

“For CBS, doors opened up at 3:30 and the presentation started exactly at 4 on the dot, which was nice. They had Craig Ferguson kind of it and he was really funny. They went into their radio, online, and syndicated properties, which no one really appreciated. It kind of sucked—I mean, this is a TV upfront, and they showcased all of their properties. They don’t usually do that. Adam Carolla came out for a radio show, and Rachael Ray for syndication, and she seemed really uncomfortable on stage. Usually they go through their schedule night by night, hour by hour, but this year they just introduced each show with clips, which was short and straight to the point. All the talent was in the audience too, and they would pan to the cast when they were showing the clip. It was over by 5:15, and it was weird because usually there are buses taking everyone to Tavern on the Green, but there was no party this year.

“Then we walked over to Quality Meats for a dinner with ABC reps. We were early and hung in the bar. There were lots of media people there. They brought over seafood towers, and I had yet another steak, and more wine.

“Two people from our group went to Adult Swim, but I went with my client to the CBS after-party at Social on Eighth Avenue. It was pretty small, basically just CBS hosting drinks. They had a nice deck in the back. More schmoozing and hanging out with clients, planners, and CBS people. I left at 1 a.m. I seem to be staying out an hour later every night. And now I’m not feeling chubby, I’m feeling fat.”

“Alex P. Keaton,” a 28-year-old supervisor in the broadcast department at Wieden + Kennedy, passed on CBS in favor of the Adult Swim party at Spotlight Live.

“This year CBS ditched their post-presentation party at Tavern on the Green, and what a shame, because the weather was great. So who steps up and fills the void? Adult Swim. The after-hours version of Cartoon Network has been a ratings juggernaut for young males for a few years now and may have just found their party-throwing niche during the Upfront Week. Before the party, we had a very nice Italian dinner with our clients and the great folks at Adult Swim a few blocks from the venue. It was pretty painless getting in, and [there was] surprisingly enough room inside to move around.
“Spotlight Live was a nice venue to see a show, with up to three levels over-looking the stage. Rumors surfaced that Kanye wouldn’t take the stage until midnight, which was disappointing to some who were hoping to make their curfew. Thirty minutes after midnight, he grabbed the mic, stormed onto the stage, and tore the place up. Highlights included his venture into the crowd during 'The Good Life' and Chris Brown and Rihanna standing up on a couch to get a better view during the final song, ‘Stronger.’”

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