With mid-May comes that time of the year where the entertainment industry and advertisers converge upon New York City for the Upfronts, also known as “TV Christmas.” It is at these events that the networks unwrap their programming for the upcoming season and reward the shows that have delivered good ratings and/or promise with renewals.
Up first for Tasty Clips was the Beacon Theatre where Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier announced a primetime 2019-20 season reliant upon top sports programming (“Super Bowl LIV,” “WWE’s Smackdown Live”); returning hits including the season’s No. 1 new series, “The Masked Singer;” the popular Gordon Ramsay shows; animated juggernauts “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” which will be joined by the Maya Rudolph-voiced newbie “Bless The Harts;” and “9-1-1,” which is birthing a spinoff “9-1-1: Lone Star” topped by Rob Lowe.
At the network’s popular Central Park soiree, as Malcolm Jamal Warner of “The Resident” and Jamie Foxx of “Beat Shazam” presided over the dance floor, Taraji P. Henson was the sole representative of “Empire,” which will reach its 100th episode during this final season. Lee Daniels’ other show “Star” was canceled, though he may find a way to resolve some of its storyline.
Daniels’ producing partner Danny Strong and Tate Taylor (director of “The Help”) have a promising new series “Filthy Rich” ready to air starring Kim Cattrell (“Sex & The City”).
Other strong looking pilots include family drama “Not Just Me” with Oscar winner Timothy Hutton and Megalyn Echikunwoke; crime thriller “Prodigal Son,” featuring Tom Payne, Michael Sheen, Bellamy Young and Lou Diamond Phillips; and mid-season sci-fi concept “neXt” led by John Slattery (“Mad Men”).
“Since the beginning of the year, ABC has been the No. 1 network with a schedule that is working, and we are going to nurture it,” announced Entertainment President Karey Burke from the stage of the Disney Upfront at Lincoln Center the following afternoon.
With six of the Top 20 broadcast entertainment shows, including two of the top four dramas — “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Good Doctor” — it is a claim hard to deny.
Among the new projects getting the most attention is a “black-ish” prequel about Tracee Ellis Ross’ Rainbow growing up called “mixed-ish.” Tika Sumpter and Gary Cole are some of the adults in the room.
Also looking like hits are the sci-fi suspense drama “Emergence” with Allison Tolman and Donald Faison; and FX’s ambitious women’s movement limited series “Mrs. America,” casting Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan and Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm. It arrives next year.
After the presentation, which ended with a scathing Jimmy Kimmel monologue and a performance by John Mayer, the many stars mingled at Alice Tully Hall.
Freeform’s “grown-ish” castmates Chloe x Halle revealed they are putting the finishing touches on their new album in L.A.; while the show’s Trevor Jackson assured that there would be no sequel to his “Superfly” reboot while showing off his closely cropped hair.
Spotted on the scene were a boldly dressed Sunny Hosten and Meghan McCain of “The View;” “Good Morning America” regulars Ginger Zee and Rob Marciano; National Geographic’s “Amazing Dr. Pol;” “Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary; Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.;” “Snowfall” lead Damson Idris; Edward James Olmos of “The Mayans;” David Giuntoli and Romany Malco of “A Million Little Things;” the lovely Kimrie Lewis of “Single Parents;” and Lake Bell of “Bless This Mess,” who broke this writer’s heart with the news that her co-star Pam Grier while not there, would be at the uber-private after party. Maybe next year …
It was a bit surprising to see Tracy Morgan and Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame enjoying each other’s company after the morning WarnerMedia Upfront at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Then again, they had reason to celebrate as their respective TBS series “The Last O.G.,” with co-star Allen Maldonado in the house; and “Miracle Workers,” with co-star Steve Buscemi not; were renewed.
At the beginning of their presentation, new CEO John Stankey stressed that they have “combined the creative vision, iconic brands and full content portfolio of WarnerMedia with the global reach, capabilities and direct consumer relationships of parent company AT&T.”
On TBS comes a new comedy “Chad” from “Saturday Night Live” alum Nasim Pedrad; and the network’s move to drama with the much-anticipated adaptation “Snowpiercer,” starring Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly. They’re so high on this sci-fi ecological tale that a second season is already on order before its premiere!
TNT has renewed “Animal Kingdom” and the Niecy Nash/Karrueche Tran fan favorite “Claws,” which returns June 9. Nash will direct an episode this season.
Upcoming are “Ann Curry’s Chasing the Cure,” and an up-close and personal look at basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal in a new docu-series, “Shaq Life.”
All in all, get ready to set the DVR. There’s a lot of premium content headed our way.
CLIPPETTES: Grammy award-winner Patti Austin will perform at Cal State Northridge in a benefit concert for the university’s Teenage Drama Workshop May 24; while keyboardist Cameron Graves previews music from his fall release at Venice’s Townhouse …
It appears there is a Whitney Houston hologram tour (with brother Gary Houston leading a live band) and a new album of never released songs on the horizon, according to estate executor Pat Houston …
Common signs copies of his new book “Let Love Have the Last Word” at Westfield Topanga & The Village in Canoga Park May 25. Later that evening, War and KC & The Sunshine Band are in concert at The Greek …
William Shakespeare’s time-honored tale of star-crossed lovers “Romeo and Juliet,” is getting yet another modern update for Netflix from producers Will Smith and Queen Latifah …
Salt-N-Pepa and Naughty By Nature open for New Kids On The Block’s The Mixtape Tour at the Hollywood Bowl on May 26; as Jay Electronica goes live at Troubadour …
Legendary vocalist Dionne Warwick has released her new album, “She’s Back,” which features duets with Kenny Lattimore, Musiq Soulchild, Kevon Edmonds, Brian McKnight, as well as Bone, Thugs & Harmony’s Krayzie Bone and The Jubilation Choir …
TC ON TV: May 24 – “Joy” (Netflix): Close to paying off her debts, a Nigerian sex worker in Austria coaches a reluctant novice and assesses the risks of taking a faster path to freedom. “She’s Gotta Have It” (Netflix): The complete second season of Spike Lee’s reboot starring DeWanda Wise has Nola Darling continuing her journey of self-discovery. Anthony Ramos, Lyriq Bent, Margot Bingham and Fat Joe return as her crew.
May 26 – “National Memorial Day Concert” (PBS): Patti LaBelle, Amber Riley (“Glee”), Christopher Jackson (“Hamilton”), Dennis Haysbert (“24”), Sam Elliott (“A Star is Born”), Jaina Lee Ortiz (“Station 19”) and Gen. Colin L. Powell are among the participants for the 30th annual broadcast. “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch” (HBO): Are you so mad at the ending that you won’t watch this two-hour behind-the-scenes special? “The Chi” (Showtime): Folks are still reeling from the news that Jason Mitchell was fired from his integral role due to sexual harassment allegations — including one from series love interest Tiffany Boone! Must be serious because he was also dropped by his agent and removed from the cast of an upcoming Netflix film.
May 27 – “Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal” (Lifetime): The sequel to the 2018 hit movie, continues the love story of newlyweds Prince Harry (Charlie Field of “Genius”) and American actress Meghan Markle (Tiffany Smith of “Supernatural”).
TASTY QUIP: “Any young actress, should she want to star in a romantic comedy that should be available to her, if she wants to star in a horror film, that should be available to her. So it’s exciting to play something outside of the three archetypes that people like to see me in.” – OCTAVIA SPENCER to Variety on her role in “Ma” opening May 31.
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to email@example.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.