Even media buyers who have seen it all found their spider-senses tingling as Syfy’s upfront was about to begin Tuesday evening.
The network’s presentation was held at the Foxwoods Theatre on Broadway and would be followed by a performance of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark. Syfy is the media sponsor of the star-crossed show, whose production problems, including actors injured as they swung across the stage, might have made the show attractive to the curious as well as to theater lovers.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” said Gary Carr, senior VP, executive media director at TargetCast tcm.
Steve Burke, the CEO of NBC Universal installed by new owner Comcast Corp., said that focusing the attention of media buyers on Syfy made the unusual effort worthwhile. “This will help take Syfy to the next level,” added Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, in whose corporate dominion Syfy resides.
Before the show started, Spider-Man was joined on stage by Syfy CEO Dave Howe. “Don’t worry. We know you came to see him,” Howe said, promising “we’ll be quick.”
But Howe insisted that Syfy would do some high-flying of its own, whipping through what he called the network’s biggest upfront ever, presenting 100 hours of original programming to be produced for next season.
Syfy will be “bigger, smarter and bolder” for both its audience and its advertisers, he said.
Among the new shows were Culture Shock starring Tommy Lee, who will “penetrate” the world of secret societies, and Jersey Shore Shark Attack, a title from Syfy’s cheesy but high-rated Saturday night movie franchise that drew cheers and laughs from the audience.
Chris Czarkowski, VP of ad sales at Syfy, added that with 15 new series, the network promised to be ambitious, innovative and have an impact when it came to delivering the results its sponsors want.
Spider-Man started up soon after the upfront presentation ended and the audience was treated to a few of the show’s infamous errors near the end of the first act as Spider-Man failed to stick a landing in the balcony and the production had to stop while the web/riggings were reset. A little later, Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson got hooked together like two young lovers with braces as their harnesses wouldn’t release.
During intermission, Lyle Schwartz, managing director of GroupM, said that he hadn’t seen a spectacle like this during an upfront since Fox’s inaugural presentation about 30 years ago. As for Spider-Man, “we’ll see what happens in the second act,” he said.
Eventually the show came to an end. Mary Jane got her kiss from Spider-Man hanging upside down from the ceiling. And no media buyers were injured during the production.