“The problem,” a network president said to me when he was explaining why he was about to cancel my show, “is this: I can’t go to New York with your show on the schedule.”

In the television business, “going to New York” is shorthand for appearing at sales presentations in New York in early May. At the “upfronts,” as they’re called, television networks have traditionally unveiled their autumn schedules for hundreds of advertising executives—people tasked with buying commercial time for their clients—amid a lot of optimistic hoopla and fanfare and tent-revival-style enthusiasm. The goal is to entice advertisers to pay cash for commercial spots up front, before the shows have actually premiered, at which point the (few) hits and the (mostly) bombs are apparent.

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