NBC's Robert Greenblatt on the State of the Network - Press tour live-blog
Even though "Bad Judge" and "A to Z" flopped, "State of Affairs" and "Marry Me" are basically doomed, "The Voice" is down, "Peter Pan Live!" fizzled, "Constantine" will be done after 13 episodes and "Mysteries of Laura" is attracting mostly older viewers, it still wasn't a bad fall for NBC.
Certainly NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt is likely to look on the bright side at Friday (January 16) morning's Television Critics Association press tour panel with NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke and Late-Night and Alternative President Paul Telegdy.
Click through and follow along...
8:15 a.m. PT. Paul Telegdy appears to be a late scratch, so it'll be Greenblatt & Salke alone...
8:53 a.m. Panel time! Robert Greenblatt takes the stage first to give us our talking points. He notes that the network "held back" many of its top dramas for midseason, so he's excited to share some of them with us. He boasts that they're bringing us Donald Trump as "a special treat." Snort. Greenblatt apologizes for some late screeners. We only got "The Slap" yesterday, for example.
8:55 a.m. Announcements! Announcements! Announcements! He begins by joking that they're developing a Hillary Clinton miniseries produced by Bill Cosby. Tee-hee. See what he did there? Actual announcements: Eva Longoria will star in the single-camera comedy "Telenovela," also producing. Zachary Levi will star in "Heroes: Reborn," with Jack Coleman returning. NBC is also moving forward on "Freedom Run," an eight-episode miniseries set against the backdrop of the Underground Railroad. Producers on "Freedom Run" include Stevie Wonder. NBC is also developing a Broadway musical for that miniseries as well, with Stevie Wonder possibly writing the score. And speaking of music, NBC is developing a series of TV movies with Dolly Parton, based on her songs and also her life.
8:59 a.m. For summer and beyond, NBC has "Heroes: Reborn" as well as the J-Lo drama "Shades of Blue," which will start production in June. "Aquarius," starring David Duchovny, also is a thing that exists. Oooh. A first trailer! It's set to a little Jimi Hendrix and it features Duchovny, but also a random assortment of CW actors and Melanie from "Bunheads." Honestly, it feels like "Gotham" with Charlie Manson. It's unclear when it will premiere. "The Gilded Age," from Julian Fellowes also exists and will "hopefully" be coming next season.
9:04 a.m. Paul Telegdy has the flu, if you were curious.
9:04 a.m. "We are going to do a live musical next year," Greenblatt says. They've optioned "The Music Man" and they're looking at casting options, but they've also optioned "The Wiz," which may be what they do instead. So we'll see. Sounds like they won't do "The Music Man" if they can't get the right Harold Hill, which seems like a good plan. Greenblatt says that he feels like there are lots of miniseries in development all around town and that networks are still trying to find ways to eventize things. He thinks their Underground Railroad and Dolly Parton things could break through the clutter. "I think there aren't enough of those family-oriented projects," Greenblatt says. He points to "The Slap" as the kind of cast they can get by doing close-ended projects.
9:07 a.m. "Thursday has been a problem for us for the last few years. It used to be the big night of television for NBC, but that has sorta winnowed away," Greenblatt says. "We think that while the movie of 'Blacklist' is certainly risky, the only way to really reinvigorate that night is by jump-starting it," he says. "We're trying to create a new night of really high-quality drama," Greenblatt says. He points to ABC's success with "Grey's Anatomy" and CBS' success with "CSI" back in the day. "I don't expect necessarily for there to be a larger audience for 'Blacklist' Thursday at 9 as opposed to Monday at 10," he says, though he claims "it's possible." [Aside: It's not possible.] "If you don't start that move at some point you'll never get there," he says. Salke claims that she's seen people on social media being torn between "Blacklist" and the Shondaland dramas. Salke emphasizes the importance of Live+3 numbers and agrees that putting more comedies on Thursday to fail felt like "the definition of insanity." "It's a risky but necessary move for us to make," Greenblatt says.
9:10 a.m. Does NBC have a comedy that represents the comedy brand at NBC these days? Greenblatt jokes that the day after the "Parks" premiere he emailed the creatives to see if they wanted to do another season. He thinks that putting the two episodes back-to-back helped make it more of an event. He feels, though, that the time was right to end "Parks," especially because of how difficult it was going to be to keep that cast together. "We are really challenged by the comedy brand that we're trying to build on this network. It has been a couple years of trial-and-error on a number of fronts," he admits. Greenblatt references solid reviews for "A to Z," but low ratings. Greenblatt reminds us that NBC has a strong historical track record with multi-cam comedies. They're excited about "Undateable" and "One Big Family." He says the key will be bringing creative people in with big ideas. Salke says that they're looking at comedy in various ways. They're talking about maybe doing a limited comedy series or a live comedy series. "We're really trying to attack it from all levels," Salke says.
9:14 a.m. Will NBC never work with Bill Cosby again? "Yes, I think that's safe to say," Greenblatt says.
9:14 a.m. What's happening with the return of "Hannibal"? It will be back in the summer. "It's a show we love," he says. "We love it. We also love summer," Greenblatt says. So "Hannibal" will be summer, as possibly will "Heroes" and "Aquarius."
9:15 a.m. "Constantine" has weak live numbers. Salke insists they're still talking about it for a second season. Greenblatt suggests that they like the show and the star. "I think we did right by the fans that didn't like the film that was made of it," he says.
9:16 a.m. Back to Cosby. What happened on their end to lead to the dropping? "Yeah. 15 women came out and accused him of having done what they accused him of," Greenblatt says. "It didn't seem to be the sort of thing that was critical mass," he says. I asked Greenblatt what qualified as "critical mass" if the network had heard about previous settlements and decided that wasn't enough reason to not be in the Cosby Business. "15 yes, 2 no," an irritated Greenblatt told me regarding critical mass.
9:20 a.m. "I really didn't expect that they would be," Greenblatt says of "Peter Pan" not equaling the "Sound of Music" numbers.
9:21 a.m. "The odds are great that the Chicago shows are going to be back. We're thrilled with both of them," he says. Greenblatt and Salke say that a "Chicago Med"-style spinoff is possible.
9:24 a.m. NBC is still moving forward on TV Everywhere. "You have to go market-by-market," he says. He thinks this sort of thing is in the future for all of them.
9:27 a.m. Greenblatt and Salke are committed to diversity, specifically to the growing Latino audience. "We're out ahead in diversity," Salke says. Seven of their nine department heads are "diverse." "I think you're gonna start to see a really big change," she says, adding that they have have a deal with Eva's company in addition to "Telenovela."
9:28 a.m. What do they think of the future of "State of Affairs"? "I'm disappointed in what it's been doing the last couple weeks," Greenblatt says. "You expect the worst, but you hope for the best and you're constantly surprise," he says. He calls it "a really fine show" and he's scratching his head about why they can't get more people to be there for it. Salke suggests that maybe the show became too serialized and audiences weren't investing in it. But "Odyssey," "Slap" and "Allegiance" are all very highly serialized. On that, Greenblatt says you have to follow the vision of the creator. He calls "Odyssey" a "13-episode roller coaster ride." Salke references "Allegiance" as a show that has a close-ended component, but is also serialized.
9:32 a.m. Can you do a show like "Parenthood" on network TV anymore? "It's never gotten an audience, I think, that it deserved," he says. Greenblatt suggests that you can do a show like that with the best auspices and the best cast, but that's what they have now. Salke agrees that "Parenthood" hasn't gotten the audience it deserves.
9:33 a.m. What's the future of "About a Boy"? It's dropping off the schedule in the spring for multi-cam. He says that "About a Boy" isn't over yet and that they're developing several things with Jason Katims. "He's the gold standard for character and emotion and even funny and heart-warming," Salke says. "We're committed to him and love him and respect him immensely," she adds.
That's all, folks...