I used to think the biannual television upfronts, in which TV networks hawk their wares for advertisers, were a relic of a bygone era, but then every streaming service started introducing user tiers that include ads, so now I guess the upfronts are more relevant than ever. 


To that end, MGM/Prime Video had their first-ever upfront yesterday in New York. Earlier this year, Amazon introduced ads to Prime Video, and they upcharge you to keep your Prime Video ad-free (they’re being sued over the ads. I agree with the sentiment but I’m sure there’s some boilerplate language in their terms of service that amounts to “we can do whatever we want, whenever we want”). 

The Amazon upfront was star-studded, with Jake Gyllenhaal on hand to announce a Road House sequel, an idea I no longer hate, in fact, one I welcome. Every sh-tty region in America should have a Road House movie! Send Dalton to the back roads of the Pacific Northwest next!


Also on hand was Reacher star Alan Ritchson, who is empirically the size of one and a half Jake Gyllenhaals. Aldis Hodge was also there to hype his upcoming show, Cross, in which he takes on the mantle of detective Alex Cross. Hannah Waddingham and Octavia Spencer were there, too, hyping their own show, an as-yet untitled action comedy. Can’t wait to see that. Keke Palmer and Patton Oswalt handled the unscripted portion of the announcements, and Roger Federer showed up to tout a documentary about his retirement called Twelve Final Days

But then, as Lainey mentioned briefly in What Else? yesterday, came the biggest stunt—Reese Witherspoon, in costume as Elle Woods, to announce a prequel series set in the 1990s. So like…The Carrie Diaries meets Clueless but for Elle Woods. Witherspoon will produce the series, which is simply called Elle. I truly don’t know how this ends up being anything other than a Clueless riff, Elle Woods always felt heavily inspired by Cher Horowitz. (The novel Legally Blonde was published in 2001, six years after Clueless.


Witherspoon also appeared, as herself, alongside Will Ferrell. They’re co-starring in an R-rated wedding comedy that ISN’T the sequel to Wedding Crashers but is about parents of respective brides at a hotel where their kids’ weddings are double-booked. The R rating is the most interesting thing about this teaser.



Apparently the Amazon upfront was such a hot ticket there was a traffic jam to get there, but with both hit shows like Reacher—a legitimately successful streaming show, people actually do watch it—and movie stars like Jake Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrell, and Reese Witherspoon on hand, it’s no wonder advertisers wanted in so badly. Thanks to pairing their streaming subscription with their shipping service, Amazon has a huge subscriber base, and they have a budding track record of middle-brow entertainment like Reacher and Road House that draws in audiences. It’s CBS for streaming, or rather, catnip for advertisers. 

And it’s a sure sign there will never be any getting rid of ads on streaming platforms. Streaming was previously a closed door to advertisers, but now the door has been kicked down and it’s a free for all. Someone is going to make a lot of money from advertising on streamers, and despite the dual strikes of last year, I bet it won’t be the writers, directors, actors, editors, and other key creative contributors who actually make these shows and movies. Somehow, it never is.