Yesterday, I had a chance to attend the first ever Fox Upfronts for fans, called the “Fox Fan Front.”
The event was to start at 2:00pm. They told people who RSVPed that wristbands would be handed out at 1:30pm but suggested to get there a little early because seats were not guaranteed. I got in line around 8:30am and was about 60th person there. Other people showed up at midnight.
Were these crazy fans there because of their love of Fox? No – they were there for their love of Glee, or more specifically, their love for Darren Criss.
It was not surprising in the slightest that an entire network’s event that was supposed to be about all of Fox’s returning programming and new programs for the fall ended up being a love fest by the fan’s for Darren Criss – one of Glee’s highly featured actors for the past two seasons (who started off as a guest star in the show’s second season). Though Darren wasn’t even part of the show’s original cast, he has quickly become its biggest draw because of who he is. He’s Darren Freakin’ Criss – and he’s probably the nicest famous person you could ever hope to meet.
The Fox Fan Front was a great idea that was sort of poorly executed. They had all 250 of us seated on these cramped bleachers in front of a small stage and a blue carpet. After we were seated, they showed footage from The Mindy Project, The New Girl and the worst BTS video from this season of Glee and told us to “feel free to get up and get a t-shirt and some popcorn or shaved ice.” So, we tried to get from our seats in the cramped bleachers to go acquire a shirt and some sustenance. Once most people were finally settled back down, they brought out Fifth Harmony from last year’s X-Factor and they sang a song.
Then, the emcee (who did not seem to know very much about actors or characters on Fox shows) read information about the shows off of the press release all of us had in our bag of swag they handed us when we walked in. (Don’t get too excited – the “exclusive swag” featured hand sanitizer, a stain remover stick, some mints, cheap sunglasses, a sticker, and other knick knacks with Fox show titles on it. The best swag was the t-shirt, which we were allowed to “customize” in that there were two colors to pick from and five different designs to choose from… I got a Glee shirt. For reasons.)
After being read all the same information we already had on hand, we were shown excerpts from the upcoming Fox shows that will be new this fall. Some of the shows actually looked really great. I’m most interested in Andy Samberg’s cop comedy (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) and Karl Urban’s futuristic cop drama (“Almost Human”). Oh, and the update of “Sleepy Hollow.”
Then, it was finally time for the actors and stars of the Fox shows to come out. As soon as the people from The Mindy Project walked out, our seats in the bleachers were useless and people just started rushing the front to try and get signatures and pictures with people. So, since I was in the third of four rows in the bleachers, I was SOL because I am not a pushy person, nor was I going to try and shove people out of the way to have access to these famous people. So, I stood on the second row of bleachers for the next couple hours and took pictures of other people getting pictures with all these television stars.
It was RIDICULOUS the amount of famous people I saw. Like… think of any show on Fox. I saw anywhere between 1 and 7 people per show.
Since most people (myself included) were there for Glee, the biggest cheers erupted when the Glee cast was announced. Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Jenna Ushkowitz, Kevin McHale, Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison paraded in front of the crowd, most of them extremely quickly. A couple people got pictures or autographs with the younger cast members. Jane answered some fan questions on stage. Matthew posed for a fair amount of photos. But, Chris, Lea, Jenna and Kevin pretty much flew by.
Then, the host announced that Darren Criss was there and the crowd cheered. Darren entered the tent and started at the very end and worked his way s-l-o-w-l-y down to the other end. He took pictures with as many people as he could, stopped and signed things, had small conversations with people, and basically was the most gracious person at that event. He must have known a majority of the fans were there for him and he was kind enough to try and oblige as many of them as possible. He was on the floor for far longer than any other person at that event. Numerous actors came and went by in the time it took Darren to move a few feet.
Though it would have been nice to get a picture with Darren, I was not about to elbow my way through the crowd. I have had the privilege of meeting him twice before (and have a few pictures with him/talking to him) and will be seeing him again at his concert. (I have a VIP ticket, so I’ll get a chance to say Hi face-to-face.) Even though I know a lot of the people who were there yesterday also have met him on previous occasions and have prior pictures with him too, I wasn’t going to squeeze my way through (especially since the partition almost fell over at one point anyway). I got some decent pictures and it was nice, as a fan, to watch him interact with others. He’s truly one of the nicest celebrities I’ve had the opportunity to meet/interact with before and I whole heartedly believe that he is 100% sincere in how kind he acts toward his fans (even though some of them can get a bit crazy).
There were a lot of actors I admire there yesterday, especially Chris Messina, Mindy Kahling, Kevin Bacon, Martha Plimpton and Greg Kinnear. I was hoping for a picture with Greg Kinnear (as the crowd of people had dissipated slightly at that point since Darren was gone), but some rep pulled him back once he got over toward where I was standing. I did get pictures with Karl Urban (!) and M. Night Shyamalan, so that was pretty cool.
But, one of the coolest things was that the Bacon Brothers performed after the pomp and circumstance past was over. They don’t play my kind of music, but it was AMAZING to see Kevin Bacon perform with his brother from roughly 10 feet away. They were really good and it was fun to see them play. I felt bad, though, because a lot of people had left by then – or were trying to leave during their set. The people at Fox obviously were not aware that the demographic of attendees were not those who listen to the Bacon Brothers. Demi Lovato or Darren Criss (both of whom were in attendance) would have been more appropriate performers for our crowd. But, I really appreciated seeing the Bacon Brothers and got a real kick out of the whole experience.
I’m grateful that Fox decided to do this kind of event for the fans and that I was able to attend. I watch an awful lot of television and admire/respect the work of a lot of people who I got to see yesterday. It was unfortunate that a majority of the people in attendance were unable to interact properly with the actors. We were told we would be “mingling” with the actors, so I thought that meant we’d get a chance to ask them questions and actually talk with them. Instead, it was more of a “grab the famous person closest to you and take a picture with them and hopefully ‘please and thank you’ was a part of the interaction.” I had a bunch of legitimate show/acting-based questions I wanted to speak with these people about, when the event actually turned into a “see how many famous people I can get my picture with because it’ll probably get me more followers on Tumblr or Instagram.”
I’m hoping Fox will do this again next year (though with slightly different/better organization) and that other networks will follow in its footsteps. I would LOVE to go to the NBC upfronts.
Television doesn’t exist without fans. I mean, it does… but if no one is watching your show, or talking about it, or recommending it to friends, then what is the point?
Major props to Fox for attempting to cater an event toward the fans. The network was able to dangle interacting with celebrities under our noses enough for us to bite. I would have loved the opportunity to formally talk to these people, if only for a minute or two, but I am content with at least being invited to participate in the hype.
Some of these new shows look great and I’ll definitely be giving them a whirl. And I’ll probably be wearing my Glee shirt this weekend… you know. For reasons.