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The theme of Disney‘s 2024 upfront presentation to advertisers Tuesday was “connections” — and not just because of the running bit started by “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Rob McElhenney, which involved their constant replaying of a five-second ad spot that said “Connections!” with a Disneyified logo and voiceover.

No, the symbol of unity across Disney’s brands was made up of a slew of announcements from Marvel, and about such other high-wattage projects as “Star Wars,” “The Bear,” “Only Murders in the Building,” the “Wizards of Waverly Place” sequel series, “9-1-1,” Ryan Murphy’s new slate of FX titles and more franchises with intersecting talent.

Disney kicked off the event when Oscar-winning “Poor Things” star Emma Stone introduced the Mouse House’s big boss, Bob Iger — a job like that would traditionally go to a top ABC star. The use of film talent like Stone and Reynolds signals the upfronts are no longer just about television for Disney.

UPFRONTS 2024View Variety‘s full coverage.

When CEO Iger took the stage, he said this appearance at the Javits Center in New York City marks his first address at an ABC upfront presentation in 30 years.

“Today we’re going to share with you the incredible projects that we’re working on,” Iger said. “And later Jimmy Kimmel will be out to tear them all apart. He’ll probably tear me apart too. I wanted to be part of this presentation, really for two reasons. One is to express gratitude to the talented creative people who make our businesses so inspiring, so exciting, and so rewarding. And to share my tremendous optimism. The last time I appeared on stage at upfront was 30 years ago when I was head of ABC Entertainment.

“As you might imagine being here today has led me to ponder all that has transpired since then, and the radical changes that have transformed our business over the last three decades,” he said. “For instance, television used to be something watch on a television while the whole business model the way to media are drastically different. What hasn’t changed is the fact that success in this industry is really predicated on one thing, and that is telling great stories and great storytelling is something Disney has always exceled at. We have an array of outstanding creative ventures using world class talent.”

Next up, Disney ad sales chief Rita Ferro came out to woo Madison Avenue, first appearing as a cartoon in an animated sketch with Brian and Peter from the 20th Television-produced “Family Guy,” and then as her real-life self on stage.

“Deadpool” star Reynolds came out not only to plug Marvel’s “Deadpool & Wolverine” and the Season 4 renewal of his FX docuseries “Welcome to Wrexham” (for which he was joined by fellow executive producer and co-star Rob McElhenney), but also remind everyone that he got his big break on ABC’s TGIF comedy “Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place” more than two decades ago. And also really drive home that “connections” angle.

“OK, the theme of this presentation is connections and I have a ton of connections,” Reynolds said. “But I don’t think we’re hitting this quite hard enough. So we made a Disney-fied logo,” he added before throwing to the video clip that literally screams, “Connections!” “Many of you have come to primarily know me for my work in marketing. Did you know that 26 years ago, I got my big break on a ABC midseason replacement called ‘Two Guys, a Girl and A Pizza Place’ with the great Nathan Fillion.”

Fillion would later arrive on stage with “Star Wars” character Chewbacca to make a number of groan-worthy wookie/”The Rookie” jokes and introduce the team behind new Disney+ “Star Wars” series “The Acolyte.” Creator Leslye Headland and star Amandla Stenberg and her co-stars then teed up a special teaser for the audience.

Marvel dominated a chunk of time during which the casts of Disney+ TV series “Daredevil: Born Again,” “Agatha All Along” and “Ironheart” revealed teasers for the MCU shows.

Selena Gomez came out to hype the crowd up about the “Wizards of Waverly Place” sequel series “Wizards Beyond Waverly Place” and show a first look — before being required to reassure “Only Murders in the Building” co-stars Steve Martin and Martin Short this will not interfere with their Hulu show. She made up with the guys by debuting the teaser trailer for the fourth season of “OMITB.”

“The Bear” cast, including Jeremy Allen White and Ayo Edebiri, and series creator Christopher Storer couldn’t be at the upfront in person, so they sent along the Season 3 teaser for those lucky enough to be in the room.

Longtime ABC staple Ryan Seacrest arrived to make the big announcement of ABC’s first-ever “Golden Bachelorette,” introducing Joan Vassos as the show’s inaugural lead.

Other appearances included Ellen Pompeo to tease her forthcoming Hulu drama, “Natalia,” Serena Williams to reveal she’ll be hosting the 2024 ESPY Awards on July 11, Jim Gaffigan to announce his new Hulu standup comedy special, Sterling K. Brown and James Marsden to reveal a first look at their Hulu show “Paradise,” Kerry Washington talking second seasons of her Onyx series “UnPrisoned” and “Reasonable Doubt,” Kaitlin Olson, who popped out to promote her new ABC drama series, “High Potential,” and the quartet of Kim Kardashian, Michelle Williams, Emma Roberts and Angela Bassett all gathering together to promote their respective FX, Hulu and ABC projects.

Additionally, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and “Abbott Elementary” creator and star Quinta Brunson brought out ESPN’s new “Monday Night Countdown” commentator Jason Kelce to celebrate his new gig and promote Disney’s turn with the Super Bowl in 2027. ABC News’ David Muir and Robin Roberts also appeared to promote “Good Morning America” and “ABC World News Tonight.”

Closing it all out was Jimmy Kimmel, who poked a ton of fun at a giant AI head of Bob Iger on the big screen and warned the crowd about the potential growth of “A-Iger.”



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