Unlike his counterparts, Reilly doesn’t arrive at TCA just to read off the latest ratings stats or tout the company line — "We love this show!"; This is a game-changer"; We couldn’t be happier!"; — but actually seems to be thinking and processing the questions from info-starved scribes.
One of his most well thought out answers came while addressing the current state of network comedy. He could’ve given the standard response — "It’s cyclical. It’ll come back" — but instead sees the genre as having a difficult time making a complete recovery. He even took a shot at Fox.
"We’ve talked about it every year. A lot of confidence has left the creative space. I see talented people coming in skittish and not knowing what to pitch, and what will sell," Reilly explained. "NBC has a cohesive thing, something I worked on while I was there. We’re going to mix it up this year. We’re not taking our pitches in our office, but go out on their own turf. To a restaurant, house, anywhere to get it out of a sterile environment. We’re going to pay writers to shoot something before they come in."
"Our comedy brand has a bit anemic, and we’re looking for the next ‘Malcolm in the Middle."
One comedy project Reilly seemed particularly enthusiastic about is midseason single-camera laffer "Boldly Going Nowhere," from the team behind FX’s "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
"It’s ‘The Office’ in space," is how Reilly described it, and he should know something about what makes "The Office" a hit as he was head of NBC Entertainment when the show arrived in Burbank via London. "It’s about petty jealousy and incompetence on a long-term mission."