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NBC Revives Variety Show Talks With Maya Rudolph in Live Programming Push

NBC hopes to bank on the sizzle of live programming next season, as sources say discussions have been revived with Maya Rudolph for a program that is seen as a possible companion for Neil Patrick Harris’ upcoming variety show.

Sources said talks with Rudolph and exec producer Lorne Michaels have been stepped up in recent weeks, though it’s not clear if the project will be ready for unveiling at NBC’s upfront presentation on Monday. Rudolph, the “Saturday Night Live” alum, hosted an hourlong special for NBC last May that was seen as a test drive for a series or an ongoing series of specials.

NBC declined comment.

Harris is already lined up to host a still-untitled variety series, based on the ITV hit “Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway,” that is expected to get a big push at the upfront presentation. Sources said the show is expected to be on NBC’s fall schedule, though as always scheduling plans are subject to change on a dime in the days leading up to the upfront.

Harris’ series is set to be shot live before a studio audience. NBC sees live, or nearly live, programming as one means of counteracting the fragmentation of viewing and drawing premium sponsorship dollars to shows with more urgency.

On Tuesday night, the Peacock’s sitcom “Undateable” mounted live two hourlong productions of an episode, one for the Eastern and Western time zones. The ratings didn’t take a big leap, but the show undoubtedly drew more attention on social media than it otherwise would have received with a standard episode.

NBC will unveil its 2015-16 season plans on Sunday, followed Monday by a formal upfront presentation to advertisers at Radio City Music Hall.

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