People clapped for the return of Friday Night Lights and seemed to respond reasonably well to NBC’s new shows at Monday’s upfront. The loudest applause, though, came for a man who hasn’t regularly been on the Peacock’s airwaves in nearly a decade.
But then again, it’s not every day that Jerry Seinfeld announces his return to network TV.
No, he’s not doing another series. After all, Seinfeld went out on top, and as he explained, that’s how he wants it to stay — citing Michael Jordan’s post-"retirement" stint with the Washington Wizards as an example of what he doesn’t want to do.
Instead, Seinfeld will offer up a series of shorts chronicling the making of his animated film Bee Movie. Sort of in the same way that the American Express ads a few years back were about his friendship with Superman.
Yes, the shorts will essentially be an infomercial for Bee Movie, which is due in November. But if you were NBC, would you say no if Jerry Seinfeld brought you something you could adapt to just about every platform you program?
Other bits of business from NBC’s upfront:
The Olympics start on 8.8.08. We know this because the network told us three times, thanks to a video glitch that caused the promo reel to start and stop three times before it made it all the way through. Also, NBC will offer up 2,400 hours of programming for the two-plus weeks of the Beijing Games — which is about six days of coverage, on all its various networks and online, for every actual day of competition.
"Let’s go eat some shrimp." The presentation was light on the parade of talent across the stage, with only Seinfeld, the NFL crew and the cast of Heroes appearing live. With less pomp — "they cut my dance number," NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly joked — the presentation clocked in at a very trim hour and 20 minutes, allowing Reilly to send the crowd off to the buffet and bar much earlier than usual.
Bet on the Bus. Jerome Bettis defended his title in the Sunday Night Football balcony-toss challenge, heaving a football the 40 or so yards from the Radio City Music Hall stage to the balcony in one try. Cris Collinsworth — wearing sneakers after slipping last year — took two shots, and new guy Tiki Barber didn’t get one there until his third throw, possibly imperiling his future on Football Night in America: "You can stay on the Today show no matter what," Collinsworth told him, "but if you don’t get the ball to the balcony on the first try, you’re out." We’re guessing that’s not a binding thing, though.
Full hearts. Reilly is an unabashed fan of Friday Night Lights, and he’s really hoping its move to Fridays in the fall will set it up for future success. Twice during the day, once in a press conference and again during the upfront presentation, he mentioned that he hopes it stays around "for years to come."