Upfront season always involves a fair amount of razzle-dazzle, but IFC's "Up! Up! Upfront" on Thursday night had some extra showbiz resonance. And it wasn't just the roller skates.
As network president and general manager Jennifer Caserta reminded the crowd, the event was the next-to-last ever for New York's iconic Roseland Ballroom. The 92-year-old building, originally built as a skating rink, has thrived for decades as a music venue but will give way to a condominium tower after a week of shows by Lady Gaga ending on April 7.
IFC, reprising elements of its 2013 upfront, provided a roller rink with "rental" skates, DJ duo AndrewAndrew, food from local downtown vendors like Luke's Lobster and Asiadog.
Caserta and senior VP of sales Vanessa Benfield kept their remarks brief—"we want you to get back to skating, eating and drinking," Caserta explained -- highlighting IFC's 23% ratings jump in 2013 as well as some upcoming series. Fred Armisen, co-creator and star of the Lorne Michaels-produced Portlandia, is also behind the net's upcoming series American Documentary, a sendup of TV docs. Footage was shown from new shows Garfunkel & Oates, American Storage and "Weird" Al Yankovic appeared in a clip plugging The Comedy Music Awards, a joint venture with CollegeHumor.
After that brief business interlude, an all-star cover band featuring network talent Fred Armisen, Marc Maron and members of the Birthday Boys took the stage. Armisen, who just started his gig as Seth Meyers' bandleader on NBC's Late Night, began the set with a rousing solo version of The Damned's "Life Goes On." The full band then turned out worthy takes on The Clash and Generation X before roller skating resumed.