Upfronts and How to Use Them

Network Upfronts were last week, in case you missed all of the hubbub in the trades.

So exciting!!

…But a lot of actors don’t know what Upfronts are, what they do, or what they mean. Don’t worry! I’m going to help shed some light on the subject, and help you use the Upfront info to your benefit.

First of all, what are Upfronts? Here’s the definition from our dear friend, Wikipedia:

In the North American television industry, an upfront is a meeting hosted at the start of important advertising sales periods by television network executives, attended by the press and major advertisers. It is so named because of its main purpose, to allow marketers to buy television commercial airtime “up front”, or several months before the television season begins.

Right. For our purposes, all you really need to know is:

Upfronts are when there are big shindigs in New York announcing which shows have been renewed and which pilots were picked up.

I’m simplifying things a bit (a lot), but this is the info actors can understand and use.

To know the results of the Upfronts (and most other entertainment news), I go to Deadline. They are so kind and have made a nifty section dedicated specifically to the info you need. You also need to visit Casting About. You must subscribe to this service, but it is a requirement for any professional actor. They have also listed the returning shows and new pickups as well as the casting directors for each show. This is the actor’s informational jackpot.

Great. So now we know what shows will be airing, and who is casting them. What now? We return to our best friend the spreadsheet. This year, I have formatted mine a little differently so I can keep using it as shows are canceled and added.

There were specific pieces of info I wanted to be able to track:

1. If I have taken a casting workshop with that office

2. If I have auditioned for that office

3. The Network

4. The Show Title

5. The genre

6. The casting office

7. The Showrunner

8. When it airs

9. Where it shoots

The first row looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 3.41.02 PM

In this format you can sort by column and manipulate the data easily. You can always add more columns if you would like to track additional info. I will probably add one to track which shows I have watched, that way I know what my homework is.

With the above spreadsheet you can eliminate shows from your target list that are shooting outside of your market, know roughly when things will be casting based off of the air date, target casting offices, and know what type of genre the show is to accurately prepare for your auditions. If you book a show, I recommend highlighting the whole dang row in a bright color like I have. That way you know and can see your progress!

Of course, you will have to check back in to update information. Per the example, Agent Carter has not disclosed their casting office (or many other details). As things are announced, pull up your file and input the info. This spreadsheet will be your guide until Upfronts next year.

If you know any casting directors, show runners, actors, or directors that are a part of a returning or newly picked up show, it is always a nice idea to send a card to congratulate them. It is no easy feat making it onto the fall schedule, so acknowledge people’s accomplishments.


It’s great if you are a good actor. It’s even better if you’re a smart actor. Do your homework and you’ll be ahead of the pack!

Leave any questions or comments below!



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