NBC’s ordering up some comfort food

Peacock plays it safe with new sked

NBC seems likely to stress stability over sizzle when it outlines its fall sked to advertisers today.

Peacock kept a tight lid on details over the weekend, but based on the shows the net has greenlit to series, NBC brass appear ready to emphasize mainstream offerings from major producers, with a few gambles sprinkled in the mix.

While NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly developed a number of unconventional projects, in the end, net is sticking mostly with comfort food — at least in the fall — as it looks to rebuild and recover from its fourth-place finish this season. Potentially buzzworthy dramas such as “NY-70,” set 35 years in the past, were passed over in favor of easily marketed dramas from Jerry Bruckheimer and Tollin/Robbins Prods.

On the comedy side, Peacock’s development was dominated by single-camera or hybrid projects, but two of the three laffers likely to air in the fall are traditional multicamera skeins from industry vets such as Lorne Michaels and “Will & Grace” creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, and Tollin/Robbins Prods.

Still, there’s some evidence that NBC is trying to take some measured chances in the fall, balancing safer fare with some big swings. It’s possible the net will, like it did last season, save some of its chancier prospects for later in the season.

Fans of unconventional comedies can be encouraged by the Peacock’s decision to greenlight another season of “The Office,” though it’s unclear how many episodes have been ordered. Net has also scheduled the cable-esque single-camera half-hour “My Name Is Earl.”

Overall, NBC has ordered six new skeins, with an even division between comedies and dramas.

Dramas picked up by NBC include “E-Ring,” the Bruckheimer/Warner Bros. TV actioner set in the Pentagon and starring Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper. Sea creature-themed drama “Fathom,” meanwhile, comes from NBC Universal TV Studio and stars Lake Bell, while net also picked up the Tollin-Robbins fertility clinic drama “Inconceivable,” from Touchstone TV.

Winning hand

On the comedy side, “Earl,” from 20th Century Fox TV, stars Jason Lee as a small-time crook who wins the lotto and goes legit. Warner Bros. TV’s “Four Kings” revolves around four best friends in New York. And “Thick and Thin,” from NUTS and Broadway Video, stars Jessica Capshaw as a 300-pound woman who suddenly slims down.

Peacock is departing from recent tradition with its orders: Most of its new series come from outside the NBC U TV empire, with the NBC U Television Studio producing just two of the net’s six skeins (barring any last-minute co-production deals and potential midseason orders).

Meanwhile, getting a fix on NBC’s fall sked remained tough Sunday.

It’s expected NBC will keep most of its 10 p.m. skeins intact, instead focusing its attention where it’s most needed: the 8 p.m. hour. Possible exceptions to that could come on Sunday and Tuesday nights, with 10 p.m. Friday certain to change should “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” officially die.

One scenario has NBC shifting Tuesday’s “L&O: SVU” to 9 p.m. to make room for a new drama at 10 p.m. But that’s risky, given Peacock could have the only incumbent show at 10 p.m. Tuesday next fall.

NBC might also consider moving “The West Wing” to 9 p.m. Sundays for what many believe will be its final season. That would allow an aging series to do battle against “Desperate Housewives” and protect “L&O: Criminal Intent,” which could shift to 10 p.m. Friday.

It seems likely both “The Apprentice” and “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” will air this fall — with the second edition possibly on Sunday — and that either “Joey” or “Will & Grace” will lose their Thursday timeslots. It’s unclear if NBC might consider abandoning decades of tradition and simply forgo Thursday laffers completely.

NBC has already skedded “The Biggest Loser” for 8 p.m. Tuesdays in August, and the show could continue there for a while since the net has two different incarnations of the reality skein in production. Peacock had success with 90-minute editions of “Loser” this season, and might settle for airing just one comedy at 9:30 for a few weeks.

Also on Tuesday, it’s possible “The Office” will share a timeslot with fellow returnee “Scrubs,” with “The Office” perhaps airing four or six episodes at the start of the season. Both could also be held for later in the season.

The only almost-certainty: NBC is expected to keep its Monday night intact — barring a surprise shift of “Fear Factor” — and stick with repeats on Saturdays.

Meanwhile, a severe sinus infection is keeping NUTS prexy Angela Bromstad away from Gotham this week.

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