THE STARS ADDRESS: In a navy blue business suit reflexively clasping his hands, CBS president and chief executive officer Les Moonves played things pretty straight during the network’s upfront Wednesday. But he couldn’t resist the occasional dig. Moonves said, unlike its competitors, CBS believes “great drama belongs between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and not at seven in the morning or 11:30 at night,” before checking himself. “Sorry, I had to have a little fun.”
He was less lighthearted in extolling CBS News before traipsing out CBS Evening News’ Scott Pelley and CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell. Even David Letterman got in on the love fest, hugging Moonves for a good 20 seconds or so. “What’s the matter? Trouble at home?” the comedian asked the red-faced executive. “Everyone backstage is very excited. They think I’m Bob Schieffer.”
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Before exiting the stage, the late-night host said of Moonves, “Doesn’t he look great after the gastric lap band surgery?”
What CBS really did have an abundance of Wednesday was TV personalities. Guests merely had to swivel their heads to see Toni Collette, Anna Faris, Will Arnett, Mark Harmon, Lucy Liu, Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, Sarah Michele Gellar, Dylan McDermott and scores of other actors. Most of the talent gave a quick Queen Elizabeth-like wave, while some, like Robin Williams, got speaking roles. Returning to TV for the first time in 30 years as an adman in the new show “The Crazy Ones,” Williams recalled those much simpler upfronts: “a bunch of executives and a mound of cocaine.” As he made his entrance holding his crotch and dancing, the Academy Award-winning actor noted “the strip-club motif. Welcome to Sugar Daddy’s, where old men dance for young girls.” The funnyman also compared the upfronts to the Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show, but “with more agents and a little less ass-sniffing.”
On his way out, Williams thanked “Mr. Moon Beams” for giving him a day job. “It’s nice to have a job where hopefully the checks will clear,” the stand-up said. Stephen King has also joined the payroll — his show “Under the Dome” is one of five new ones that have been added to the roster.
Meanwhile, NBC Universal’s Style Network also had reason to celebrate Wednesday, having lined up Pharrell Williams as the first of three mentors for its new reality show “Styled to Rock,” which will give 12 up-and-comers the chance to dress A-listers.