Highlights From Disney Upfront; Serena Williams & Damar Hamlin Promote ESPN; Samurai Warriors Battle On Stage For ‘Shogun’
Disney on Tuesday followed NBCUniversal and Fox in presenting its content slate to advertisers. Like them, it bet heavily on sports, news and reality personalities amid the WGA strike, which prompted street picketing outside New York’s Javits Center.
However, testing the patience of the attendees, Disney went double the length of the Monday presentations, with little attention to ABC’s strike-contingent, reality-heavy fall schedule unveiled earlier in the day.
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Disney kicked off its upfront presentation in an expected fashion, with a flashy highlight reel that drove home the “magic” of the Mouse House. A brief voice over from Ellen Pompeo reminded the audience that “when the imagination is limitless, life’s possibilities are endless,” as they settled in for the lengthy two-hour presentation. Here were the highlights:
The first hour of the presentation included lots of talk about sports and people having babies, beginning with none other than Serena Williams, who announced a new docuseries and said that she’d planned to also reveal that she’s expecting another child at Disney’s upfront, if only the Met Gala hadn’t happened first.
Williams was followed by SportsCenter’s Elle Duncan, who told an awkward joke about how she tried to pretend “to be too feeble” to do anything while pregnant until Williams won the Australian Open during her own pregnancy. Then the jig was up.
Speaking of babies, Dan Orlovsky and Desmond Howard joined their pregnant co-host Laura Rutledge on stage to talk about college football. But first, they placed bets on potential baby names. Dan or Desmond? Heisman, perhaps? Anyway, college football kicks off Labor Day weekend.
Over the course of nearly an hour, the presentation cycled through ESPN anchors and various sports stars — most notably Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who received a standing ovation from the audience. Peyton Manning was there too.
It eventually became clear why Disney spent so much time on ESPN, as the presentation breezed through all of the company’s other properties in roughly the same amount of time it had spent on sports.
The ABC News portion of the presentation was a bit of a downer, as David Muir took the stage to talk about the (mostly tragic) “news breaking in every corner of the world.” Michael Strahan, fresh off his appearance at the Fox upfront presentation on Monday, breathed a bit of life back into the room when he appeared to talk about Good Morning America. Oh, and George Stephanopoulos reminded everyone he’s banned from Russia.
From one former football star turned television host to another. Jesse Palmer was up next to talk about all things The Bachelor, but he quickly turned the stage over to some much more exciting guests — Kim and Khloe Kardashian! After receiving roses from Palmer, Kim laid her love for Disney on thick, joking that her family made the switch from E! to Hulu for the Disney parks hook up. She also teased a “crazy epic” new season of The Kardashians.
Kevin Feige was on hand to chat about Marvel but revealed little news besides premiere dates for Echo and Loki Season 2. Footage for both was shown in the room, but Disney cut the stream for virtual viewers. Boo. There’s always Comic-Con.
Kathleen Kennedy spoke briefly about upcoming projects for Lucasfilm. No Acolyte or Skeleton Crew footage for virtual viewers, but we did get a trailer for Ahsoka. There was a bit of a jarring tech mixup that first showed a bit of footage from Pixar’s new series Win or Lose. The tech wizards quickly realized their error and cut the stream to the correct footage. And for anyone who actually wanted to see the sneak peek at Pixar’s first original series, they played that too.
Ryan Seacrest then took the stage for the ABC, Hulu and FX portion of the presentation to remind the audience that — from American Idol to The Bear — Disney has a lot of content. In case they forgot.
A group of samurai warriors battled in the aisles and on stage to close things out and promote FX’s upcoming epic series Shogun. And probably to get the audience’s blood flowing again just in time for the after party.
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