In more flush times, many networks lavished tchotchkes, often of the expensive and electronic kind, on their upfront guests.
As the economy soured, though, the parting gifts became more practical. In many cases, nothing more than the hope — and perhaps a memory stick — that the presentations would trigger a favorable schedule decision when the Madison Avenue bazaar officially opened its tent to accommodate prospective buyers.
Now consider Syfy’s situation. The NBC Universal service is trumpeting its March 22 upfront with a subsequent performance ofthe much-ballyhooed/pooh-poohed Spider-Man: Turn Out The Dark at the Foxwoods Theatre in Manhattan.
Given the show’s track record for delays and accidents, where cast members have taken it on the chin and other body parts during aerial rehearsals, the practical thing for Syfy to do is hand out its gift bags — after executives proffer their pitches and before the lights for the Broadway musical blink — housing hard hats and personal protection policies from The Hartford.
Then again, like the ambitious play itself, can Syfy, which is a media partner of the production from U2’s Bono and The Edge and Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor, guarantee that Spider-Man will be ready to fly just a week after its latest announced opening date? Something about the Ides of March.
Indeed, Syfy, which in 2010 spun its way to a 14th straight year among cable’s top 10 in its core 25-to-54 demo, might have to worry about make-goods of a different kind before the 2011-12 TV season even starts.