upfronts 2010

Fox Parties in NBC’s Face

Glee stars Lea Michele and Jane Lynch.

If success at upfronts week can be measured in happy, drunken ad buyers, then Fox probably came out a winner last night with one of the most purely joyous parties New York has seen in a long, long time. The night’s theme of extravagance was evident from the second the crowd stepped out of the 2010–2011 season presentation at the Beacon Theater and onto charter buses, those staples of movie premieres of old, waiting to squire them away to Wollman Rink in Central Park. There were found buffet lines for pasta, barbecue, and sushi, and two open bars manned by male models in tight T-shirts. A machine pumped out green cotton candy which was then dissolved with great ceremony in martini glasses filled with rum and soda water. Stars were almost an afterthought, confined to one corner of the giant tent. Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford, of this summer’s cop comedy The Good Guys, took snapshots with fans and fled the scene. Big Mike from American Idol predictably got a few plates from the buffet and settled down on the couches with his wife and baby. Kara Dioguardi was just kind of there.

Three hours into a party that started at 6, a cover band (shipped in from L.A.!) took the stage in ridiculous bell-bottoms, colored sunglasses, and Afro wigs and started playing seventies-funk classics. An hour later, they changed outfits and played eighties songs — the Cure! Bon Jovi! A-Ha! There were lasers and smoke machines. Dudes in suits and women in heels collided in a raucous dance party that engulfed the tent, stretching outside, where even the cops and security guards furtively busted a few moves.

In the few pockets of the Fox party not overwhelmed by music and good times, we overheard advertisers talking about the great contrast with NBC’s party at the more corporate New York Hilton, complete with hotel catering. NBC had more stars, like Alec Baldwin, but 1 p.m. isn’t exactly an ideal time for beverage and merriment.

Five-plus hours in, the only people who seemed to have left the FOX party were the stars, and the bars and food stations were still pumping out free stuff. The band finished their set by leading a massive sing-along to “Don’t Stop Believing,” and then the D.J. picked up and kept going for another hour more. The message was clear, and effective: Fox is No. 1.

Fox Parties in NBC’s Face