NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt jumped right into the late-night controversy during the network’s upfront presentation this morning in NY, announcing a change in the network’s late-night plans as he took the stage at Radio City Music Hall. “I will be stepping down in 2014 to take over The Tonight Show, and Jay Leno will be taking my job”, he said. The presentation opened with a video featuring Parks And Recreation stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. “Hi, I’m Shakira,” Poehler said, shelling out advice on what show Middle America likes. “There is no bigger show on TV than The Voice“, she said. Deadpanned Offerman, “I prefer a show called The Silence where you have a black screen and no sound”. Poehler also touted the success of Revolution, a show about people living in the wilderness with no electricity or power. “I’d watch it, provided it’s not a show and is called Camping“.
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Greenblatt acknowledged NBC’s ratings woes this past season. “It’s been a roller-coaster season”, Greenblatt said. “We made progress”, he added, noting the network’s finish as No. 1 in the fall for the first time in nine years. But then, “we had challenges in the first quarter and our share of midseason disappointments” before “bouncing back in April”.
The NBC boss also said that once again there will be two cycles of The Voice, with the fall one launching on September 23, the opening night of the season. Cycle 2 will start immediately following the Winter Olympics.
The first applause of the day came for Greenblatt’s announcement that Community is coming back for 13 episodes. The second one? For Michael J Fox, whose new series will air on Thursdays. It was the first new NBC show introduced by Greenblatt before he handed things off to NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke.
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NBC is making a big push in family comedy, with several shows presented harkening to the days of The Cosby Show on NBC. The Michael J. Fox Show was well-received, with Welcome To The Family, Sean Saves The World and About A Boy also drawing laughs. On the drama side, the network’s emphasis this season was “on police officers and procedurals, which is a good thing” as long as the characters are fully developed, Salke said. After years of Celebrity Apprentice, “we think it’s time to put dramas back on Sunday night”, she said, introducing new dramas Believe and Crisis, which will launch on Sunday night after football.
There are a lot of fans of Blair Underwood in the house, with the actor getting a nice round of applause before the screening of the clip for his new series Ironside. “For those of you who remember the old series about a detective in a wheelchair, forget about it because this is an edgy cop drama,” Salke said. The clip got some good response too, though overall, the trailers NBC’s new comedies seemed to connect stronger with ad buyers.
How high is NBC on new drama The Blacklist? The network began and ended the presentation with the drama starting James Spader. In his opening remarks, Greenblatt touted Blacklist‘s blockbuster testing results, which were “better that all other 125 NBC drama pilots in the past decade.” It was the last trailer presented by Salke that drew the biggest applause.
A fun remark from the presentation of NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus that may lead to influx of British soccer fans to the U.S. Touting the acquisition of U.S. rights to the British Premiere League, he boasted that NBC and NBC Sports Network will offer “more coverage than they can watch in their native country of England.”
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