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NBC Chief Talks ‘This Is Us’ Scheduling, ‘Will & Grace’ Revival, Jimmy Fallon’s Ratings

When NBC unveiled its fall schedule in May, the centerpiece was a relaunch of the “Must-See TV” brand powered by the move of hit drama “This Is Us” to Thursday nights. Two weeks later, the network reversed course, announcing that the 20th Century Fox Television-produced series would stay on Tuesday nights.

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt defended the scheduling back-and-forth Thursday.

“We went into scheduling with a really great and exciting idea to take our biggest new hit show, rebrand Thursday, and take over Thursday,” Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association press tour, adding that the creative team for the show was on board with the decision. “I’m happy to say that we’re not afraid to say, oh, maybe lets rethink something or maybe let’s change what we thought was a good idea. We started to take a close look at the football schedule.”

NBC execs began to rethink an exceptionally long hiatus that would be forced on the show by “Thursday Night Football” and the holiday season.

“Then we started to think, ‘Is that the best way to run the show for the rabid fans who are going to hopefully come back in droves?'” Greenblatt said. After discussing the creative plan for the show with executive producer Dan Fogelman, “We all collectively agreed maybe that interruption is not the best thing for the show. Let’s just move it back to Tuesday.”

Greenblatt added, “Maybe in hindsight, maybe we should have done more of that extensive thinking before we announced the move.”

The programming chief also discussed the upcoming revival of “Will & Grace” — and the recent revelation that the new series would ignore the plot of the previous series finale, in which the two title characters are shown to have drifted apart.

“There’s jokes about it in the first episode,” Greenblatt said. “I don’t think you want to see them with aging children. We love the essence of the old show, and there’s clever ways about why they’re still living together. We just love the old show.”

Regarding the late-night ratings wars that have heated up since CBS’ “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” began regularly outpacing NBC’s “Tonight Show” in total viewers, Greenblatt expressed confidence in NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, emphasizing his continued dominance in the 18-49 demo.

“I have no concern about it whatsoever,” he said. “Jimmy is the greatest at what he does. Clearly we’re living in a news cycle that tops itself from the day before. I think that will even itself out.”

NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, who joined Greenblatt and alternative and reality group president Paul Telegdy, also addressed the network’s decision to cancel comedian Jerrod Carmichael’s family sitcom “The Carmichael Show.”

“Looking at the show with Jerrod and feeling like, ‘What’s the long-term plan and is there a route for real big success for the show?’ I think the collective decision was maybe it’s best to let the show end,” Salke said. She added, “It’s one of those difficult, difficult decisions that kind of live with you for a while that you don’t feel great about.”

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