After missing upfront season last year, I was excited to get the opportunity to jump back into it, especially armed with actual knowledge of the industry now that I’m employed at a media agency. It turned out to be a much lighter time commitment than expected, as most broadcasters decided to opt out of the traditional upfront show this year in favor of smaller meetings and presentations. This left only Bell Media to keep keeping on with the CTV Upfront, taking over the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts for the fifth year in a row to give advertisers the show they’d come to expect and had been missing all week.
After a rocky start during which the sound system refused to co-operate the presentation got under way, a relatively short one compared to past years. With another strong returning lineup and “one of its most successful seasons ever,” Bell had very few show reels to get through this year. They filled time instead with a Jimmy Fallon-esque lip-sync battle between three media agency bigwigs (including, to my delight, my company’s CEO) and the usual trotting out of celebrities. The latter got a bit out of hand this time, with by my count about 40 Hollywood and Canadian stars brought out one at a time to stand around and clap for each other in two waves. It seemed to me they could have just brought out Hayley Atwell alone for the same effect, but I may be a tad biased.
The new shows were a somewhat mixed bag, with Bell Media clearly taking advantage of their luxury of choice by picking and choosing what they felt were sure-fire hits. The highly anticipated DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will be debuting midseason on CTV, along with a new Shonda Rhimes show, The Catch. What caught my eye, however, was the completely bonkers looking Lucifer, following the fallen angel himself as he gets up to whatever the Devil does in Los Angeles and based on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. It looks entirely ridiculous and I personally cannot wait to watch it. The Fall lineup, on the other hand, will be joined by Blood & Oil and Blindspot, as well as FBI thriller Quantico and Code Black, which takes place in a hospital that experiences over 300 code blacks a year (which we are told refers to when the number of patients in a hospital outnumber the number of doctors, though I am given to understand this is not entirely accurate); most hospitals, apparently, only face this issue a few times a year. “Why don’t they hire more doctors?” wanted to know the man sitting beside me; I’d like to know too.
With the presentation over, the audience made its way to the usual after-party bash, where the alcohol was flowing and the stars posed for pictures. I got my highly coveted Hayley Atwell picture, along with one with Tom Ellis, who will be playing the title character in Lucifer, but mostly hustled around the venue trying to make sure I got to try the four different food stations. As I understand it, there was also a morphing station where you could get yourself digitally turned into a superhero which I missed out on. On the bright side, I had a fantastic video of our CEO performing “Bust a Move” to bring in to work the next day!