Fox's upfront began with a familiar line from 24 — "The following events take place between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m." — and a taped pledge from "Jack Bauer" that the network's pitch to advertisers would take only that long. What the network trimmed to (almost) make that goal, though, were largely the interesting parts. Last year's Idol performance and R-rated monologue by Brad Garrett were out, in favor of a speech reminding the audience that Fox would be broadcasting the Daytona 500 this year. Wrong crowd.
The network did ballyhoo a few new shows, including the hotly-contested-in-Hollywood Back to You from the creators of Frasier. It stars Kelsey Grammer as an anchorman bounced from his cushy job in L.A. after a popular YouTube video catches him cursing out a co-worker. Demoted to Pittsburgh, he has to work alongside Patricia Heaton as his very estranged ex-wife. James Burrows, normally a lucky charm, directs the pilot and Fred Willard ups the odds as the kooky sidekick.
The vibrant-looking K-ville, kind of "The Shield goes to New Orleans," stars a gritty cop in the wake of Katrina and is filmed on-site. And indie movie star Parker Posey plays a book editor who has to hire her sister, Six Feet Under's Lauren Ambrose, to be a surrogate mom.
In case viewers forgot about Fox's top property, Idol, the stage and staffers were dressed in the show's white-and-electric-blue colors. A spinoff, The Search for the Next Great American Band, is on the fall schedule.
In other news, there was only one Sanjaya joke, and shows you did not realize were still on the air — "Till Death" — were renewed. Fox, unlike it competitors, flew most of its stars out to hobnob with advertisers so … on to the closing party. —Alexandra Peers