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Hamilton wars at TV upfronts

Inside the rooms where it happened all week long

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Edward Erne/CBS

While the focus of the broadcast upfronts is new fall and midseason TV shows from the big five networks, the hottest ticket in town was still Hamilton. Nearly every network made some sort of joke or reference to the Tony-nominated musical this week.

— On Monday, Jimmy Fallon helped NBC kick off the week in full Hamilton regalia, singing about the network’s shortcomings, like rebooting Heroes and joking about the many Chicago shows on NBC (a variety of new Chicago titles that appeared on screen behind Fallon included Chicago Garbage and Chicago Fro Yo).

— On Tuesday, Quantico star Priyanka Chopra performed a song and dance number to start ABC’s presentation. ABC chief Ben Sherman then joked that the network will next be coming out with Quantico: The Musical, with a Hamilton-themed playbill flashing on screen. (Also on Tuesday, ESPN had Hamilton cast members Leslie Odom Jr. and Daveed Diggs perform an original song during its upfront presentation.)

— On Wednesday, CBS topped them all by having Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda appear in a video apologizing for not being in attendance due to a Hamilton matinee show. Then James Corden led a Hamilton-themed performance, to rap about the success of the network and why advertisers should invest with CBS.

The only major broadcaster that didn’t ride the Hamilton coattails? Fox, which perhaps not coincidentally is the only network that actually has a show which celebrates rap and hip-hop music — Empire.

The verdict? CBS didn’t have the actual cast of Hamilton perform, but the sheer wow factor of the network’s dedication to the hit — 16 singers and dancers participated with Corden — pushed the presentation over the top.