You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NBC: Must try TV

Peacock sez it'll take calculated risks to woo auds

NBC will try to regain some lost ratings momentum with a fall 2001 development slate that combines traditional elements of the Peacock on-air brand and a healthy dose of risk-taking.

Speaking to advertisers from the Burbank set of “The West Wing” Monday, NBC Entertainment toppers Scott Sassa and Jeff Zucker said the net, which has suffered serious aud erosion this season, will try to get back on track by taking more chances in all genres, including unscripted fare.

“We’re not going to take anything for granted. We can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect to be successful,” Sassa said.

Sassa also said the net was prepared for WGA or SAG strikes, with a trio of “Law & Order” series prepping episodes, “Dateline NBC” and assorted unscripted series. That said, he added, “We really don’t want a strike to happen.”

Comedy, reality

As for development, Peacock plans to be most adventurous in two genres where it hasn’t had much luck in recent years: comedy and reality programming.

Zucker repeated previous proclamations that “comedy is our No. 1 priority,” and said that in addition to developing more “traditional” laffers along the lines of “Friends” and “Frasier,” NBC is trying some more left-field approaches to the form.

“It’s important to take some calculated risks,” he said.

Pilots in that category, according to Zucker, include the midseason real-time comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus; a Bruce Helford/Drew Carey/Sam Simon-led live skein that mixes element of improv and sitcom; a half-hour starring superchef Emeril Lagasse; and the Sisqo/Bob Newhart laffer.

Zucker also singled out the Jenny Bicks-penned comedy “Leap of Faith” as the laffer he’s “most excited about”; he said a half-hour from Judd Pillot and John Peaslee, dubbed “True Love,” is the best script he’s read.

Getting dramatic

On the drama front, Zucker said he’s hyped up about “U.C.,” a crime drama from Shane Salerno (“Armageddon”), Don Winslow and Thomas Carter.

As expected, Zucker confirmed NBC is largely getting out of the Sunday movie business (Daily Variety, Feb. 21) in favor of a two-hour block of dramas from 9-11 p.m.

Net will still do a handful of event projects every season, including a five-hour “Law & Order” miniseries called “Terror.” Project, which will focus on a terrorist attack on Gotham, will start with a two-hour movie on Sunday and then air hourlong installments over three nights in May 2002.

“It will cover an awful lot of very, very scary bases,” said “L&O” exec producer Dick Wolf.

Sat., Mon., Tue.

Zucker also repeated the oft-heard NBC desire to open up Saturday nights to new forms of programming, whatever the fate of the XFL next season. For the fall, at least, NBC will stick to theatricals.

Monday nights and Tuesday 8-9 p.m. are also priorities for NBC, exec said.

As for unscripted fare, Zucker is hopeful that Brit import “The Weakest Link,” bowing April 16, will become NBC’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” albeit with younger demos. Sassa said he and Zucker will resist the temptation to air the quizzer four nights a week if it becomes a hit.

“We agreed to shoot one another if we run it more than two times a week,” Sassa said.


Zucker said new alternative/longform topper Jeff Gaspin will try to breathe new life into the nonfiction form. Still, “We’re not going to do reality just to do reality,” he said.

One possibility may be a behind-the-movie hour that could precede or follow NBC theatricals.

Specs in the works at NBC include a two-hour primetime spec marking 50 years of NBC latenight skeins and a three-hour spec feting the net’s 75th anniversary as a broadcaster, dating back to the radio era.

Peacock will also expand its Golden Globes kudocast to four hours, adding a pre-show arrivals spec.

More TV

  • Shari Redstone Joe Ianniello

    Shari Redstone, Joe Ianniello in Spotlight as CBS and Viacom Pursue Merger Talks Again

    As CBS Corp. nears a formal acquisition offer for Viacom, the actions of two key players — controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and acting CBS CEO Joe Ianniello — will be closely watched in the coming weeks. Redstone’s moves are under scrutiny because of the potential for litigation surrounding a deal that some have criticized as [...]

  • The Frontier

    Conecta Fiction: Project Pitches Prizes Passed Out in Pamplona

    On Wednesday evening the Spanish city of Pamplona was overrun, not by bulls, but by hopeful TV creators who had spent the early week pitching their projects at Conecta Fiction, and who anxiously waited to find out the titles which would take home silverware. Meanwhile, “Monzón,” a Disney-Pampa-Incaa production portraying the tragic violence of Argentine [...]

  • The Rain Season 2

    'The Rain' Renewed for Third and Final Season at Netflix

    The Danish Netflix original drama “The Rain” has been renewed for a third season, which will also be the show’s last. Netflix made the announcement in a tweet sent out Wednesday. The series is Netflix’s first Danish original series and takes place six years after a brutal virus carried by the rain wipes out almost all [...]

  • John Magaro Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Lola Kirke

    'Game of Thrones' Star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Among Six Cast in FX Pilot 'Gone Hollywood'

    Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is going Hollywood. The “Game of Thrones” star is among six who have been cast to lead the FX pilot “Gone Hollywood,” which hails from Scott Rudin. Set in 1980, “Gone Hollywood” centers on a group of talent agents who defect from an old-guard percentery to found their own, which skyrockets to industry dominance, [...]

  • Tim Robinson Sketch Series I Think

    'I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

    Netflix has ordered a second season of the sketch comedy series “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.” The first season saw Robinson and a few of his famous friends navigate awkward workplace drama, host an intervention in a Garfield themed house, talk their way out of a babysitter’s fake hit and run, and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content