NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt touted impressive numbers for the net’s fall turnaround at the Television Critics Assn. sesh Sunday morning and even took a shot at a fellow network topper who declared that none of the nets is doing anything right.
“We don’t have our head up our asses,” Greenblatt said, in direct reply to Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly’s assertion several weeks ago at a Hollywood Radio and Television Society lunch that the broadcasters are not always employing smart business strategies.
As for fresh programming news, NBC has ordered 13 episodes of “Camp,” a scripted drama for summer that examines life for teens away from home at summer camp. Series comes from Liz Heldens and Peter Elkoff, who will exec produce with Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein.
Production will begin in Australia in March.
Compared to years past, Greenblatt had plenty to crow about. For the fall, NBC went from fourth to first in the 18-49 demo and is second to CBS in total viewers. After much was made about the risk in double-pumping “The Voice” in both midseason and fall, Greenblatt said the addition of the musical competition show on Monday night “worked beautifully,” setting up as a strong lead-in for “Revolution,” which was fall’s No. 1 new drama among young adults.
Greenblatt and alternative-latenight topper Paul Telegdy were quick to dismiss any speculation that Jimmy Fallon is the heir apparent to “The Tonight Show” franchise once Jay Leno steps away. Despite rumors to the contrary, Greenblatt said of transition talks: “We haven’t (had any). We just extended Jay. It would be disingenuous to extend Jay and then talk about an extension plan (with Jimmy). All of those conversations are premature.”
The latenight universe will be tilted this week when ABC shifts “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to 11:35 from its longtime midnight perch. Telegdy said he wouldn’t guess how the move would impact ratings for “The Tonight Show” and “Late Show With David Letterman” on CBS.
“Jay has proved himself resilient,” Telegdy said. “We’re braced for it with hard work and our sleeves rolled up.”
Greenblatt and his team are ready for the likely news that NBC will fall from No. 1 in the next few weeks without “The Voice,” “Revolution” and “Sunday Night Football,” which is the top program in viewers and demo across all networks. Both “The Voice” (with new judges Shakira and Usher) and “Revolution” will be back in March after a two-month hiatus.
“I’m more prepared than anyone,” Greenblatt admitted. “I’ve been saying it since October. It’s just the way it is and inevitable because of the way we want to protect ‘Revolution’ and ‘The Voice.’ For the long term, we didn’t want to just jam those shows back.”
In helping to fill out the midseason schedule, NBC is set to add three unscripted series: vets “The Biggest Loser” and “Celebrity Apprentice” and newcomer “Ready for Love.” On the scripted side, net is bringing back “Smash” back for a second season, dramas “Deception” and “Do No Harm” and comedy “1600 Penn.”
Despite much praise for “Parenthood,” which has succeeded in the ratings while its familial storylines have been a hit with many critics, neither Greenblatt nor entertainment president Jennifer Salke would confirm that the drama would return next season. But when pressed, Greenblatt said it looked like a very strong possibility.
On the comedy side, NBC is readying the return of “Community” — this time without longtime showrunner Dan Harmon — and the series finales of both “The Office” and “30 Rock.” Salke was asked about the many changes occurring on “Up All Night,” which has yet to meet the Peacock’s ratings expectations.
Showrunner Emily Spivey is now off the show, and the series has undergone many other cast and behind-the-scenes changes. When questioned why the show was tweaked rather than just cancelled, Salke responded: “A lot of thought went into all of that. It wasn’t performing the way we needed it to.” As for what the show will look like going forward, “It’s a bit of an experiment.”
As for the future of “Parks and Recreation,” Greenblatt said, “I hate to sort of predict because its a long way between here and May, but we love it. I’m hopeful, and the same with ‘Community.’ ”
Just a few weeks after the Newtown shootings, the topic of the correlation between television and violence and how that affects society was a large part of the NBC discussion at TCA.
NBC has serial killer-themed “Hannibal,” with Bryan Fuller as showrunner, coming up for summer or fall, and Greenblatt mentioned that he oversaw “Dexter” at Showtime.
“I’m not sure you can make a leap from a show about serial killers to a problem with violence in our country,” Greenblatt said. “We’re mindful of it.”