Is there anything more fun than watching big stars grovel for dollars and network executives deflate their own egos? Thought not. That's why, despite the boring ratings charts, we love the Upfronts. Every time the six broadcast channels converge on Gotham for this weeklong, annual ritual, in which the networks unveil their new fall shows for advertisers, we get dizzy watching spin doctors try to convince the deep-pocketed advertising community that, no matter what the pesky numbers say, last season was their best ever, and next year is guaranteed to produce more Judging Amys than Watching Ellies. Go ahead and laugh, folks, 'cause it is funny. Read on, as TV Guide Online picks the best and worst moments from Hype-a-Palooza '03, and see for yourself:Best Opening CBS's riff on "All That Jazz." The Eye saw clear to hire the cast of Broadway's Chicago for a, um, refocused version of the showstopper. The clever lyrics of "All Those Ads" ridiculed the net's rivals and no doubt left the ABC bigwigs who recruited the Hairspray gang for a performance feeling "tressed out." Runner-up: Fox snagging American Idol superstars Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini to perform "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," with back-up from current Idol finalists Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, who were beamed in via satellite from L.A. Worst Celebrity Escort The NBC page assigned to Dick Clark. The forever-young Carson Daly of yore (and current American Dreams producer) tried to gain access to the Peacock upfront via the mile-long check-in line reserved for peon journalists instead of the A-list red carpet. After he waited in line for a few seconds behind the scribes with last names beginning with A-G, an embarrassed NBC staffer caught sight of Clark and quickly ushered him through the V.I.P. entrance. Best Short FilmDamon Wayans. Spliced into an old Leave It to Beaver clip, the My Wife and Kids star explained to Theodore why he can't trust Whitey. Runner-up: In another ABC bit, the net cast a slow Columbo on Alias in order to help the average viewer keep up with the fast-paced drama. Best Musical GuestDestiny's Child. Getting the group (sans Beyonce) to sing "Survivor" was a no-brainer for the net that gave us Richard Hatch, Jerri Manthey and a whole bunch of other dirty-looking money grubbers running around in the wilderness. Runner-up: Not even Adam could have resisted singer-turned-sitcom star Eve at UPN's shindig. Worst Role Models UPN. The net bragged that its target demo male teens is made up of "spenders, not savers." Yeah, and in other news, male teens are also channel-surfing netheads, not appointment-television couch potatoes. Wise up already! Best Suck-UpAmber Tamblyn. The starlet of CBS's upcoming drama Joan of Arcadia told the audience that the unofficial geezer network is her favorite and that it's "always the one me and my friends turn to first." Even boss Les Moonves didn't buy it. "That's the first time," he laughed, "I've ever heard a teen say that." Biggest Omission NBC. The Peacock made no mention of fallen Baghdad newsman David Bloom during its entire presentation an oversight that was made all the more glaring when CBS paid tribute to its frontline reporters. Best Back-Handed ComplimentJeff Zucker. NBC's head honcho remarked that lots of people have told him that Good Morning, Miami "really got better" toward the end of the season. Dude, we were just glad it was almost over. We didn't think you'd go and renew it. Worst Stand-Up ComicRobert Klein. When the leading man from CBS's new sitcom The Stones took hold of the mike and rambled on about franchising the word "please," a collective "Huh?" echoed throughout Carnegie Hall. When at last Klein sensed that the audience had turned on him, the showbiz vet pulled out a harmonica and played sweet music. Whatever works. Most Poignant Clip Package The WB. A moving reflection on its past glories, among them Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek and Felicity, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that when it comes to creating a brand identity, nobody does it better. Worst Marilyn Monroe impersonationRose McGowan. What did we really expect from the Charmed bombshell? First one joke bombed, then another. Finally, she just gave up and tried to distract the audience by shaking her hips and acting ditsy. (It worked, but maybe not the way she might have hoped it would.) Most Overused Butt of a Joke Iraq's infamous Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, who was mentioned in nearly every presentation. The networks are nothing if not unoriginal.
(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.)