Fox made its annual upfront pitch to advertisers at the Manhattan Center on Monday afternoon, pushing the messages of Fox Entertainment, Tubi, Fox News, and Fox Sports, all while promising the audience that don’t worry, we’ll get you hammered soon.
Coming off of presentations hampered by the pandemic in recent years, Fox was back in nearly full force, with the writers’ strike limiting the number of network stars in attendance. The event also featured some football antics courtesy of Rob Gronkowski and some well-placed cursing by Gordon Ramsay.
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Read on below for Variety’s five biggest takeaways from the Fox upfront.
A Galaxy of (Sports, News, and Unscripted) Stars
Most big-name actors have opted to sit out this upfront season in solidarity with the ongoing writers’ strike, so Fox used the occasion to highlight stars from the other divisions of the company. Gordon Ramsay made multiple appearances onstage over the course of the event, managing to drop as many f-bombs as possible. Others who presented to the assembled crowd included Fox Sports analyst Michael Strahan, Derek Jeter, Rob Gronkowski, Alex Rodriguez, Erin Andrews and Fox News hosts Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino.
Speaking of Fox News…
“The Five” Needs to Take Five
During the presentation from the Fox News division, Hemmer and Perino threw things over to the hosts of the Fox News show “The Five,” who appeared live from the Fox News studio. There was a smattering of applause when the group first came onscreen, but things began to get awkward as the group tried to banter about the upfront. Greg Gutfeld bragged about how his show, “Gutfeld!,” is the only late-night show still on the air thanks to the strike, then followed that up with a joke about how he “believes in no choices.” The crowd in the room was growing restless with the bit by this point, with the noise level quietly rising until they finally moved on to the next segment. (Meanwhile, the use of a Taylor Swift song during a Fox News sizzle reel also raised some eyebrows.)
My Kingdom for a Chair
As opposed to traditional theater seating, Fox opted instead for what they called a “reception style” event at the Manhattan Center. While there was seating in the balcony, most in attendance stood on the main floor around the large central bar. This was the butt of several jokes, including at least two by Ramsay, who at one point said, “There’s barely any f—ing chairs in here, I’m sorry!”
While there were about 75 WGA members picketing the Fox upfront, it rated only one formal mention. Fox Entertainment boss Rob Wade — in his first upfront presentation since being promoted to CEO in October — said that he hopes the strike “ends soon,” but that Fox was positioned well regardless thanks to their slate of unscripted content and beyond. Still, the broadcast network hyped their two new dramas — “Doc” and “Rescue: HI Surf” — with teasers that featured no actors or clips (neither have been filmed yet, and Fox didn’t produce pilots this year) but instead set up the premise of each show.
Free Balls for All!
Gronkowski might catch some heat backstage for this move, but the people in the crowd certainly loved it. To close the show, Gronk and Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews returned to the stage. Andrews teased that Gronkowski was going to toss out some autographed footballs, but first she needed to say a few additional things about ads. Gronk decided to jump the gun, and started tossing footballs to the crowd. Luckily, he avoided a repeat of the tragic accident that caused Marcia Brady so much trouble.
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