2013 FoxFanFront

Bleachers of fans on the blue carpet, ready to welcome Fox Stars!

Bleachers of fans on the blue carpet, ready to welcome Fox Stars!

On Monday May 13th, Fox decided to do something different during the annual Upfronts, where networks trot out the stars of new and returning programs for Fall. Fox introduced “FoxFanFront” – a free RSVP event for fans to enjoy the excitement of this media-centric event.

Tucked away in a tent in New York City’s Central Park, 250 fans – many of whom lined up the night before – were seated on rows of bleachers, given bags of show-themed treats (and a free t-shirt!), wooed with popcorn and shaved ice, then treated to a parade of Fox celebrities down the blue carpet.

There were presentations of several new shows, two of which will definitely be of interest to genre fans: Sleepy Hollow, an updated version of the Washington Irving classic from co-creators/executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and Almost Human, a sci-fi cop show executive-produced by Emmy Award winner J.J. Abrams and creator J.H. Wyman, which brings movie star Karl Urban to the small screen. We’ll be covering those shows in a different article, coming soon!

An announcer kept the crowd engaged (most of the time), and big screen monitors played episodes of New Girl and The Mindy Project, plus a behind-the-scenes video of Glee featuring the evil machinations of the cat actor who plays Lord Tubbington. There were also some sneak peeks of the incoming Fox shows, including the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine starring Andy Samburg and Andrew Braugher; Greg Kinnear’s drama Rake, Dads with Giovanni Ribisi and Seth Green – a sitcom from creator Seth McFarlane; and romantic comedy Us and Them, starring Alexis Bledel and Jason Ritter. The actors from all these shows attended the event, giving the crowd a first hand look at the attractive sights that away them in the Fall!

Fifth Harmony greets fans after singing a sweet song.

Fifth Harmony greets fans after singing a sweet song.

The first live action on stage introduced Fifth Harmony, runners up on X-Factor, – serenading the crowd with “Anything Can Happen.” After that the flood of Fox celebrities began to arrive. The stars walked along the front of the bleachers, many of them stopping for a few pictures and autographs. Mindy Kaling, Ed Weeks, Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Beth Grant, Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, and many more paraded through.  Security kept everything moving at a quick pace, as things got a little hairy when fans pushed forward.

Side Note: Fox, it was your first event so we’ll grant you some slack, but it’s good to remember people’s excitement and why they are there. Configure your seating to be safer and more logical! It’ll help you in the long run and prevent people from getting hurt.

Demi Lovato of the X Factor meets fans and stops for pictures.

Demi Lovato of the X Factor meets fans and stops for pictures.

A few stars jumped on stage with The Mindy Project star Chris Messina, who took over the MC post for a while. He asked fan questions of Glee’s Jane Lynch, and had fellow cast members do impersonations. Things moved fast – names were yelled out, the fans went crazy, names were muffled, and fans didn’t notice who was coming through. It was congested and confusing at some points, with backlogs of fans blocking the way for those trying to get to new folks on the carpet. Not the best way to manage this sort of thing!

The Glee, The Mindy Project, and New Girl casts got the most screams and applause. Later on, an appearance by Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz from Bones got the crowd whipped into a frenzy again.

The Fox competition and music shows had stars of their own walking down the carpet: Gordon Ramsay (don’t eat mac ‘n’ cheese made with breast milk!), Cat Deeley, Simon Cowell, and Demi Lovato all showed up to represent The X Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, and  Junior Masterchef. Demi’s album was dropping at midnight, and she was happy to share her excitement with the fans.

Darren Criss poses with a fan. He made an impression by staying to accomodate as many fans as possible.

Darren Criss poses with a fan. He made an impression by staying to accommodate as many fans as possible.

Although reported to be sick, Glee star Darren Criss went a bit farther than a quick meet and greet – he stuck around for almost half an hour to get to as many fans as he could. Judging by the level of screams when he entered, that was a fair amount of folks! Despite security’s attempt to keep him moving, he made sure he worked his way down the entire length of the carpet.

After the stars came through, the crowd was in for another treat: a performance by The Bacon Brothers! Kevin Bacon – star of The Following – and his older brother Mike are singer-songwriters who have toured and recorded albums for a number of years. They did a set of their original music, playing the event to a happy, upbeat close.

The Bacon Brothers sang the crowd home with their original tunes.

The Bacon Brothers sang the crowd home with their original tunes.

Fox should be commended for arranging a fan event around the Upfronts. It’s a fun and interesting idea to include the public in the drum-beating excitement for the Fall Season. Why not get people pumped for new shows and returning favorites as the seasons are coming to a close, instead of waiting for the dog days of summer?

The arrangements weren’t ideal, but hopefully Fox will live and learn. The line of fans who RSVP’d and received notification they could attend far outweighed the actual number that got in. Either the venue needs to be larger or the number invited made smaller. There was also a clumsy check-in process (one person with a clipboard working their way down the line). Wrist bands should be distributed by mail or earlier in the day to cut down on the hundreds crowding along Central Park South!

Regardless, let’s hope the event improves and other networks decide to do the same. Fans will love the chance to meet stars and networks will love the viewer good will.