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A Special Kind of Party for ‘Heroes’

Sep 14, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Last week’s third-season premiere party for “Heroes” wasn’t just another Hollywood soiree—it was a made-for-TV event.
Heroes Premiere Party
Sure, guests downed drinks and noshed on appetizers. But there were NBC camera crews all over capturing the entire scene, filming every air kiss and following the show’s stars as they worked the red carpet. And fans of the show were invited to sit in the bleachers next to the red carpet, creating an Oscar-like atmosphere outside Edison, the downtown hot spot where the bash took place.
“Was it a contrivance? Partially. Maybe,” said John Miller, chief marketing officer for the NBC Universal TV Group. “But it was a real party. Real eating and drinking was going on.”
And on Sept. 22, all the footage filmed that night will end up as the core of a one-hour prime-time special that will lead into the two-hour “Heroes” return. NBC Entertainment marketing chief Adam Stotsky said the party was “a means to an end”: specifically, making the premiere of “Heroes” as big an event as possible.
“‘Heroes’ is a movement, and we wanted to reactivate that movement,” Mr. Stotsky said. “Part one of that was what we did at Comic-Con [where NBC screened the season premiere]. What we’re trying to do now is bring the level of excitement from the convention to the television screen.”
In some respects, the “Heroes” special will resemble the catch-up clip shows that have become common tools for network marketing departments. ABC, in particular, has aggressively used recap shows to get viewers caught up on the complicated storylines of its serialized dramas.
But Mr. Stotsky and Mr. Miller wanted their hour to go beyond recapping plots.
“It’s the necessary Cliff’s Notes, but it’s also trying to generate excitement,” Mr. Stotsky said. To do that, the special will feature the stars of “Heroes” serving as hosts from the party, introducing various pre-taped packages tied to the show.
The hour also will look at how “Heroes” has quietly paid tribute to “Star Trek,” its worldwide popularity and the show’s complicated special effects. There will be a recap of suspects in the “who shot Nathan?” storyline introduced at the end of last season.
Making the “Heroes” party into an event provided other benefits for NBC. Nearly a dozen camera crews covered the red carpet, while bloggers were fed photos from the night. And because the party also was a prime-time special, Sprint ponied up to be an official sponsor of the night, paying part of the event’s costs.
“Everybody’s budgets are challenged right now,” Mr. Stotsky said. “This takes something that’s a little disposable—a party—and turns it into a hard-working strategy.”
No surprise, then, that NBC is planning more premiere parties this year. Returning hit “Chuck” and newcomers “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Kath and Kim” also are getting bashes, although their soirees will not be televised.
Other networks are finding ways to make their premiere parties multiplatform events as well. Case in point: The CW interspersed scenes from its “90210” kickoff event into the two-hour premiere broadcast, making the whole thing into a plug for a cosmetics company.

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