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Hope and Heartbreak – The Upfronts

By On May 12 2012, 9:00 am

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My twitter feed has exploded over the past few days, with capslock expressions of either utter joy or despair, sometimes in the same tweet. See, I follow a lot of people interested in – or employed by – the television industry. And right around the corner are network upfronts.

Up until last year, I had no idea what an upfront was, or why I should pay attention to one. New shows appeared on my TV schedule in the fall, stopped sometime in the spring, and either came back or didn’t depending on the whims of TV executives. But then my favorite actor was cast in a pilot, and suddenly I was very interested in the whole process. (Funny how that works, right?)

So here’s the process, as far as I can tell, in a nutshell:

1. Creative people write scripts.
2. Studios pick up a bunch of scripts.
3. Bunch of scripts narrowed down to a select few at each studio.
4. Casting/hiring of behind-the-scenes talent for those scripts.
5. Networks order pilots for some (but not all) of the scripts.
6. Pilot filming. (For more in-depth details on the pilot process, check out my blog post on flying to LA to watch the pilot filming of I Hate My Teenage Daughter last year.)
7. Upfronts. This is where the networks announce their schedules for the upcoming television season.

And that’s where we are right now, with upfronts right around the corner. So for the past couple of days, reports have been leaked at most the major networks, sharing which current shows are getting the axe, as well as which new shows have been placed on the schedule. The show I mentioned above was officially cancelled this week, which wasn’t a surprise – it had been yanked from the schedule so many times I would have been shocked if it ever showed up on the channel again. But for other fans of other shows, it’s been a nailbiting week of joy and sorrow.

In a way, it’s like the submission process for writers, on a far more public scale, and with many more people invested in the results. Though there’s a curious comfort in sharing the experience with others who are just as anxious, it’s also got to be stressful for the actors, writers, directors, and crew to know their impending employment status will be commented on by people across the country. Personally, I think I’ll stick with the individual acceptance or rejection letter, thank you very much.

Do you follow the upfronts? Were any of your favorites saved or jettisoned this week? And are there any new shows you’re anxious to check out?


One Response to “Hope and Heartbreak – The Upfronts”

  1. Traci McCartney says:

    Yes, though I am crushed by the cancellation of IHMTD, I am excited for a new show called “Last Resort” that was picked up, I believe by ABC. Why, you may ask? Because Max Adler will be starring in it, and I LOVE that guy! He’s also filming a movie with the incomparable Kim Zimmer (Reva Shayne Lewis from “Guiding Light”), which is another exciting thing to look forward to.

    In the meantime, where is our ESS? You tweeted yesterday wondering this very thing? I don’t know but SOMETHING needs to come up, and soon. I miss seeing him! :(

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