| Apr 04, 2012
By Justin W. Sanders
The LA edition of the 2012 Nickelodeon Upfront went down last Tuesday at the Hollywood Avalon as president Cyma Zarghami led the packed room through a series of announcements and special live appearances from the likes of Keke Palmer, "X Factor" star Rachel Crow, Scott Baio and many more.
The network has been the No. 1 cable network for 17 years, according to Zarghani, and is making some interesting moves to hold on to that position. There was the expected avalanche of new kids programming, including more than 300 original animation episodes coming for "SpongeBob SquarePants," a pretty bad-ass-looking update of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and other shows. But for this jaded old reporter, the most interesting new developments were what Nick is doing to bring more adults into the viewership fold.
Beefing up the Nick at Night lineup, Scott Baio discussed his new sitcom, currently titled "Daddy's Home," in which he'll play a star actor who leaves his job playing a popular dad character on TV to be a real-life stay-at-home dad. Nickelodeon has already ordered 20 episodes of the multi-camera sitcom, betting that Baio's former success on shows like "Charles In Charge" and "Happy Days" (and maybe, just a little, the "Scott Baio is Single/Pregnant..." franchise) will bolster ratings for the new series.
Further enhancing the Nick At Night lineup, the network is bringing actor, writer, artist and all-around cool guy James Franco in for a multi-episode arc on its daily scripted series "Hollywood Heights." Franco will play a "passionate, intense, eccentric movie mogul who lives life to the fullest, often outrageously" on the new show, which follows a mousy girl who gets turned into a pop sensation after winning a songwriting contest. Outrageous or no, we're betting he won't saw his own arm off this time around.
In yet another move directed at grown-ups, the network is strengthening its NickMom programming block with a heavy emphasis on comedy. Among many upcoming original shows, new addition "NickMom Night Out" proves that stand-up comedy's popularity has spread virtually everywhere, as a cast of female comedians including Judy Gold and Cory Kahaney bring mothers into the world of comedy clubs.
"Funny is money," said Zarghami, "no matter where you get it." Only time will tell if her statement is true...