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High Jacks For Immersive Syfy; Mixed For IFC's Skate Date - Simon Applebaum

April 18, 2013

Published: April 18, 2013 at 10:47 AM GMT
Last Updated: April 18, 2013 at 10:47 AM GMT

Unique connects the pair of Upfront ceremonies last week showcased in this column--unique venue and programming viewpoint for one channel, unique celebration with the other.


Venue : So appropriate for a television network to use a television studio for showing off what's ahead. You rarely see that approach taken with an Upfront, and that's what Syfy did, using Silver Screen Studios at Chelsea Piers near W. 23rd St.--for years the place Law & Order was produced ( Law & Order Special Victims Unit films nearby). One large portion of the studio was used for the presentation; another for food, drink and celebrity chat, resembling the bar scenes on Defiance, the network's new drama. Kudos to the DJs for keeping the tunes low on volume as everyone Syfychatted away, and the food providers for a nice variety of eats. Syfy's getting a rep for off-the-norm sites--Museum of Natural History last year; Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark in 2011. Grade: 4.5 Jacks

Presentation : Didn't take long for Syfy president Dave Howe to make his main point. From now on, every series launching on the network will find some way to involve viewers, via social media, Skype video chat, interplay with video games (a la Defiance) or smart TV/second-screen applications. "We're at the dawn of creative a more immersive experience with our programming, where consumers can participate in storytelling," he said. Howe repeated a point from last year's event, recalling Syfy's target audience "igniters," people who "find the new, do the next and show the best...your most valuable consumers." From there, programming became the thing in rapid-fire fashion, with show stars or hosts introducing video after video. In an unexpected moment, Battlestar Galatica executive producer Ron Moore, about to start production on new science-based drama Helix, offered acknowledgment. "Networks and network executives take an awful lot of flak for their actions, and this team is willing to put on shows nobody else will. I'm proud to come back to Syfy and mean it." Grade: 5 Jacks

News : Jamie Fox will ignite his Rod Serling self via a five-episode horror anthology series launching this October (title to come). For this summer, look for two reality series: Joe Rogen Questions Everything (investigative journeys based on the Fear Factor host's podcast) and Cosworld (comic book convention costume designer/performers). Moore's Helix is expected to premiere next year. A trio of drama pilots will be filmed soon, including No Place from Oscar-winning producer/director Robert Zemeckis and High Moon from Hannibal/Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller. On the miniseries front, classic novels Ringworld and Childhood's End were placed in development. Grade: 5 Jacks

Host : Plenty to catch, all holding up their ends of the presentation, Howe included. Grade: 4.5 Jacks

Overall Grade: 4.5 Jacks If you're out to offer much more original programming with deeper viewer participation, start spreading the news from where memorable TV was made.

5 Jacks - Excellent
4 Jacks - Very Good
3 Jacks - Good
2 Jacks - Fair
1 Jack - Poor
0 Jacks -Worse than bad


Venue : Roseland Ballroom, around the corner from Late Show With David Letterman on W. 52nd St., hosted one lavish bash for upcoming net Fox Sports 1 earlier this year. The place became a combo sports bar/food court/video game parlor that night. For IFC, the famed dance floor became a roller-skating rink, surrounded by food booths featuring trend-setting Brooklyn eateries. Reminded you of being at the roller rink on Empire Blvd. near Prospect Park. Quite a few attendees gave the rink some runs; more feasted on veggie three-cheese sandwiches from Milk Truck and glazed donuts from Dough, or waited a turn to dunk their favorite Portlandia or Out There actors in water with a ball-throwing game. (A few people frazzled at their aim got their dunk the direct way--walk up and press the target.) Grade: 5 JacksIFC

Presentation : Network management labeled their affair "Unexpectaganza!" In large part, as in don't expect us standing on a stage and display what we've got coming up. This is all about enjoying the view--roller-skating, food and frolics. No formalities; let the comedy on wheels unfold. You know what? The spectacle was so fun, people didn't seem to care that they didn't get info on network accomplishments or future plans on site. Grade : 3 Jacks

News : A year ago, IFC had a few series premieres to show off--Comedy Bang Bang, Out There and Maron (coming this summer) to name three. A year later, nothing. Not one new series with a set premiere date. Instead, the channel announced 11 series up for 2014 consideration, three of them ( Timms Industrial Piping, Garfunkel & Oates and International Plan) set to make pilots. Will & Grace co-star Megan Mullally is represented by Two Idiots, which she co-created, and New York Television Festival winner Damian Lanigan (a Brooklyn native, there's that sub-theme again) is working on Wasps. Grade: 1.5 Jacks

Host : Noooobody. Grade: 0 Jacks

Overall Grade: 2.5 Jacks Hand it to IFC for generating a great event which makes the most of a classic New York landmark (and for spotlighting new food places beyond Manhattan in the bargain). However, you can't overlook the absence of new series premieres. The silver lining: given the 2014 outlook, don't expect a repeat outcome.

5 Jacks - Excellent
4 Jacks - Very Good
3 Jacks - Good
2 Jacks - Fair
1 Jack - Poor
0 Jacks -Worse than bad

Next up: BET and mun2.

Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!

Simon Applebaum is producer/host of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the radio program all about TV. Tomorrow runs live Mondays and Fridays at 3 p.m. Eastern time, noon Pacific Time on www.blogtalkradio.com, with replays available at www.blogtalkradio.com/simonapple04. A weekly TV series edition will soon premiere on the new UBC-TV network.

Have a question or reaction? E-mail it to simonapple04@yahoo.com, or tweet @UBCSimonTWBT.

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