Stars turn out for Disney's Upfront Presentation of fall season

BySandy Kenyon via OTRC logo
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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Dozens of Disney's biggest stars joined the company's top executives Tuesday to promote their TV shows to the nation's advertisers. Sandy Kenyon has more.

Dozens of Disney's biggest stars joined the company's top executives Tuesday to promote their TV shows to the nation's advertisers.

The goal is to convince them to buy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of commercials in advance.

During the pandemic, this had to be done virtually, but now, it's back to business as usual.

It is called an Upfront Presentation because those advertisers are asked to commit to buying commercials up front, as in right now, or at least, very soon.

The famous people are brought in to help make the sale, and the first stars to come out have a hit on their hands and a season 2 of "Only Murders in the Building" on the way.

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For Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Selena Gomez, this was a good opportunity to get advertisers excited about their show.

"I didn't know what it was going to be," Gomez said. "I hoped that it was going to be good, but I had no idea. I just thought the character was interesting. I love hanging out with these guys."

This, of course, as the two longtime stars smiled broadly next to her.

The welcome from Disney CEO Bob Chapek and the galaxy of stars assembled indicated the importance of this gathering.

"The huge thing about it is that you know that they believe in you, because they're putting their money behind it," ESPN commentator and former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson said. "And that's all that really matters, because if they're putting their money behind it, that means you get your money."

One star made a direct appeal to those with the money, and "Abbott Elementary" star Sheryl Lee Ralph had no shortage of enthusiasm for delivering it.

"I say bet on a sure thing, baby," she said. "We have the numbers and the age groups you want."

In years past, this presentation was limited to the ABC Television Network, but not anymore.

"This is the best opportunity to showcase the breadth of the Walt Disney Company," Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution Chariman Kareem Daniel said. "The unparalleled set of franchises and brands."

Brands like the new one Kerry Washington came to talk about.

"I'm really proud to be here as part of the Onyx Collective," she said. "Onyx is this brand new platform within Hulu where we're telling stories that are driven by artists of color."

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The presentation is a lot more elaborate now than the one Topher Grace attended as an ABC intern before fame came.

"I should have known from that to have never gotten into television, but I did anyway," he joked.

He's looking ahead to his third season in the ABC sitcom, "Home Economics."

Oscar winner Hilary Swank has a new drama, "Alaska," airing Thursday nights at 10 p.m. in the fall.

She plays a journalist forced to leave her job in disgrace and travel to a smaller daily paper in Alaska to try and redeem herself.

It was created by Tom McCarthy, who made the Oscar nominated film "Spotlight."

"We're seeing content be told from different points of view, which is so exciting," Swank said. "I think we're getting a lot more talent out there that we're seeing, and it's so exciting now to turn on the TV and see new directors and writers and actors."