×

NBC Touts ‘The Good Place’ and Comedy as the Heart of Its 2019-2020 Strategy

NBC is unveiling a year-round schedule next season that keeps several of its signature series, including “Will & Grace,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and freshman drama hit “Manifest,” on the bench until midseason.

The plan is stability in the fall, as Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays remain unchanged, and Thursdays continue to front a four-comedy lineup.

Only one new drama, the Jimmy Smits legal entry “Bluff City Law,” and two new comedies (“Perfect Harmony” and “Sunnyside”) will launch in the fall, as NBC saves most of its new premieres for winter and spring.

In unveiling their new schedule to reporters during a Sunday morning conference call, NBC Entertainment co-chairmen George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy said they “came into this season from the vantage point of extreme stability, but without any complacency.”

The execs singled out comedy as a key part of NBC’s strategy — calling it the “heart of the NBC brand.”

“We’ve seen this most recently in the surge of interest on shows like ‘Superstore’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ both digitally and over broadcast,” Telegdy said.

Sunday’s was the first network upfront scheduling announcement for Telegdy and Cheeks in their new position, which they took over last fall following the departure of Bob Greenblatt (now at WarnerMedia). The execs said they’ve been reassessing the program development, greenlighting and scheduling landscape, which played into their strategy for next season.

“In partnership with the research team we’ve dug into a wealth of information that they collect on how, when and why people are watching TV in this complex world,” Cheeks said. “With this intel in hand, we know for example that ‘The Good Place’ is actually one of the most viewed series on our air and that the average age of an ‘SVU’ viewer is much closer to 43 than 57.

“So this information has given us the flexibility to rewrite some of the rules,” he added. Among the noticeable changes is a more fluid episodic count for shows, the execs said, such as a 13-episode order for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Meanwhile, NBCUniversal has an ownership stake in five of its eight new series, but the execs said their doors are still open to outside producers — noting new shows from 20th Century Fox TV, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures TV as part of their mix.

As for the fall lineup, the Peacock network will rely on singing competition juggernaut “The Voice” on Mondays to launch “Bluff City Law” at 10 p.m. On Thursdays, “Superstore” will return at 8 p.m. as a lead-in to “Perfect Harmony,” which stars Bradley Whitford and Anna Camp,” while critically acclaimed comedy “The Good Place,” from executive producer Mike Schur, anchors the 9 p.m. slot. That leads into a new Schur show: “Sunnyside,” starring Kal Penn.

Megahit “This Is Us,” which just received a three-season renewal from NBC, stays put on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., behind the second edition of “The Voice,” while medical drama “New Amsterdam” returns for its sophomore season at 10 p.m.

Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” trilogy is stet on Wednesdays, with “Chicago Med” kicking things off at 8 p.m., followed by “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” Speaking of Wolf, his unstoppable “Law & Order: SVU” remains at home on Thursdays at 10 p.m.

Then there’s “The Blacklist,” back for a seventh season and on Fridays at 8 p.m., paired with a two-hour “Dateline.” “Sunday Night Football,” of course, is back in its usual slot with 19 NFL games.

On Sundays after football is over, young talent show “Little Big Shots,” now hosted by Melissa McCarthy (replacing Steve Harvey) will air at 8 p.m., followed by new drama “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” starring Jane Levy, and then Season 3 of “Good Girls” at 10 p.m.

And when “The Voice” goes off in January, “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” takes over on Mondays at 8 p.m., and “Ellen’s Game of Games” is back on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Also, “Manifest” will return to Mondays at 10 p.m.

Also back in midseason, besides “Will & Grace” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (which returns with 13 episodes) is the fifth and final season of “Blindspot.”

“There is no negative to a show being launched in midseason on this network, because the traditional notions of fall and seasons and summer, they’re not really a part of the discussion at our network from a scheduling point of view,” Telegdy said. “We have enormous resources available to us on a year-round basis.”

New midseason shows awaiting a slot on the schedule include the Jerry Bruckheimer drama “Council of Dads”; drama “Lincoln,” based on the best-selling book “The Bone Collector”; comedy “Indebted,” starring Fran Drescher and Adam Pally; and family comedy “The Kenan Show,” starring Kenan Thompson. Because “Kenan” won’t launch until late in the season, Thompson will be back on “Saturday Night Live” next season.

Other shows returning include gamers “The Wall” and “Hollywood Game Night.” NBC is planning a holiday lineup that includes Season 2 of reality series “Making It,” hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, as well as three one-hour “Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways” specials from Ellen DeGeneres. In the summer, NBC has the return of the Olympics, along with “World of Dance,” “American Ninja Warrior” and “America’s Got Talent.”

Other new unscripted shows include “Bring the Funny,” “Small Fortune,” “Songland,” “That’s My Jam,” while “Who Do You Think You Are?” is returning to NBC after a stint on TLC.

NBC won’t announce a final decision on freshman midseason shows “Abby’s,” “A.P. Bio,” “The Enemy Within,” “The InBetween,” “The Titan Games” and “The Village” until a later date.

Here’s NBC’s fall schedule:

MONDAY
8 p.m., “The Voice”
10 p.m., “Bluff City Law” (NEW DRAMA)

TUESDAY
8 p.m., “The Voice”
9 p.m., “This Is Us”
10 p.m., “New Amsterdam”

WEDNESDAY
8 p.m., “Chicago Med”
9 p.m., “Chicago Fire”
10 p.m., “Chicago P.D.”

THURSDAY
8 p.m., “Superstore”
8:30 p.m., “Perfect Harmony” (NEW COMEDY)
9 p.m., “The Good Place”
9:30 p.m., “Sunnyside” (NEW COMEDY)
10 p.m., “Law & Order: SVU”

FRIDAY
8 p.m., “The Blacklist”
9 p.m., “Dateline NBC”

SATURDAY
8 p.m., “Dateline Saturday Night Mystery”
10 p.m., “Saturday Night Live (encores)”

SUNDAY
7 p.m., “Football Night in America”
8:20 p.m., “NBC Sunday Night Football”

And here is information from NBC on its new series:

NEW DRAMA SERIES

“BLUFF CITY LAW”
Coming from a famous Memphis family known for taking on injustice, brilliant lawyer Sydney Strait used to work at her father Elijah’s celebrated law firm until their tumultuous relationship got in the way. After barely speaking to him for years, Sydney is suddenly thrust back into the family fold when her philanthropist mother passes away unexpectedly. In the wake of her loss, hoping to reconnect with the daughter he loves, Elijah asks Sydney to rejoin his firm. She agrees because despite her lingering resentment and distrust, she knows that working alongside her father is her best hope at changing the world … if they can ever get along.

The cast includes Jimmy Smits, Caitlin McGee, Scott Shepherd, Barry Sloane, Michael Luwoye, MaameYaa Boafo, Stony Blyden and Jayne Atkinson.

Dean Georgaris will write and executive produce. Michael Aguliar and David Janollari will executive produce.

“Bluff City Law” is produced by Universal Television in association with David Janollari Entertainment.

“COUNCIL OF DADS”
When Scott, a loving father of four, has his entire life’s plan thrown into upheaval by an unexpected health scare, he calls on a few of his closest allies to step in as back-up dads for every stage of his growing family’s life. Scott assembles a trusted group of role models that includes Anthony, his oldest friend; Larry, his AA sponsor; and Oliver, his surgeon and best friend to his wife, Robin. These men agree to devote themselves to supporting and guiding Scott’s amazing family through all the triumphs and challenges life has to offer – just in case he ever can’t be there to do so himself.

The cast includes Sarah Wayne Callies, Clive Standen, Tom Everett Scott, J. August Richards, Blue Chapman, Emjay Anthony, Michele Weaver, Thalia Tran, Steven Silver and Michael O’Neill.

Tony Phelan & Joan Rater will write and executive produce. Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed will executive produce. James Oh and Bruce Feiler will produce.

“Council of Dads” is produced by Universal Television in association with Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Midwest Livestock Productions.

“LINCOLN”
Inspired by the best-selling book “The Bone Collector,” former NYPD detective and forensic genius Lincoln Rhyme was at the top of his game until a serious accident at the hands of a notorious serial killer forces him out of the field. When Amelia Sachs, an intuitive young officer who’s got her own gift for profiling, finds herself hot on the killer’s trail, Rhyme in turn finds a partner for this new game of cat and mouse. As the unlikely detective duo joins forces to crack the city’s most confounding cases, they must also race to take down the enigmatic “Bone Collector” who brought them together.

The cast includes Russell Hornsby, Arielle Kebbel, Brían F. O’Byrne, Tate Ellington, Courtney Grosbeck, Ramses Jimenez, Brooke Lyons, Roslyn Ruff and Michael Imperioli.

VJ Boyd and Mark Bianculli will write and executive produce. Seth Gordon will direct and executive produce. Avi Nir, Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan will executive produce.

“Lincoln” is produced by Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television and in association with Keshet Studios.

“ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST”
In this joyous and celebratory drama, Zoey Clarke is a whip-smart computer coder forging her way in San Francisco. After an unusual event she starts to hear the innermost wants and desires of the people around her through songs. At first, she questions her own sanity but soon realizes this unwanted curse may just be an incredibly wonderful gift.

The cast includes Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Peter Gallagher, Alex Newell, John Clarence Stewart, Carmen Cusack and Mary Steenburgen.

Austin Winsberg will write and executive produce. Richard Shepard will direct and executive produce (pilot only). Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson, Kim Tannenbaum, Eric Tannenbaum, David Blackman and Daniel Inkeles will executive produce.

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” is produced by Lionsgate in association with the Tannenbaum Company, FeigCo Entertainment and Universal Music Group.
NEW COMEDY SERIES

“INDEBTED”
Young parents Dave and Rebecca are ready to reclaim their life after years of diapers and sleepless nights. However, things take an unexpected turn when Dave’s parents show up unannounced and broke, leaving Dave with no choice but to open the door to the people who gave him everything. But these boomerang parents aren’t great with boundaries and the question of who’s parenting who quickly becomes blurred in this multi-generational comedy starring Fran Drescher and Adam Pally as mother and son.

The cast includes Adam Pally, Abby Elliott, Steven Weber and Fran Drescher.

Dan Levy will write and executive produce. Doug Robinson will executive produce.

“Indebted” is produced by Sony Pictures Television in association with Doug Robinson Productions.

“THE KENAN SHOW”
In this family comedy, Kenan Thompson strives to be a super dad to his two adorable girls while simultaneously balancing his job and a father-in-law who “helps” in the most inappropriate ways.

The cast includes Kenan Thompson, Punam Patel, Dani Lockett, Dannah Lockett and Andy Garcia.

Jackie Clarke will write and executive produce. Chris Rock will direct and executive produce. Kenan Thompson, Lorne Michaels and Andrew Singer will executive produce.

“The Kenan Show” is produced by Universal Television in association with Broadway Video.

“PERFECT HARMONY”
Bradley Whitford stars in this comedy about finding inspiration in the most unlikely places. When former Princeton music professor Arthur Cochran unexpectedly stumbles into choir practice at a small-town church, he finds a group of singers that are out of tune in more ways than one. Despite the ultimate clash of sensibilities, Arthur and his newfound cohorts may just be the perfect mix of individuals to help each other reinvent and rediscover a little happiness, just when they all need it most.

The cast includes Bradley Whitford, Anna Camp, Tymberlee Hill, Rizwan Manji, Will Greenberg, Geno Segers and Spencer Allport.

Lesley Wake Webster will write and executive produce. Jason Winer will direct and executive produce. Bradley Whitford, Adam Anders and Jon Radler will executive produce.

“Perfect Harmony” is produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Small Dog Picture Company.

“SUNNYSIDE”
Garrett Modi was living the American Dream. As the youngest New York City Councilman ever, he was rubbing elbows with the political elite, attending star-studded parties and was the pride of Queens. But instead of spending his time in office helping the people that got him elected, he lost his way amidst the power and glamour of politics. When his downward spiral got him busted for public intoxication (and downright stupidity), it was all caught on tape and ended his career. Now, Garrett’s crashing with his sister, Mallory, and wondering where it all went wrong. That is, until he’s hired by a diverse group of hopefuls who dream of becoming American citizens and believe he can help – giving him a new sense of purpose and a chance for redemption, as long as he remembers where he came from.

The cast includes Kal Penn, Diana Maria Riva, Joel Kim Booster, Kiran Deol, Poppy Liu, Moses Storm and Samba Schutte.

Kal Penn and Matt Murray will write and executive produce. Michael Schur will be supervising executive producer. David Miner and Dan Spilo will executive produce.

“Sunnyside” is produced by Universal Television in association with Fremulon and 3 Arts Entertainment.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • BritBox Is 'Not a Rival to

    BritBox 'Not a Rival to Netflix and Amazon' but Something Different, ITV Exec Says

    BritBox, ITV and the BBC’s joint “best of British” streaming service, is not being positioned as a rival to Netflix and Amazon but offers something those two streaming giants don’t, ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Friday, Lygo said BritBox would be a “different thing” that allowed [...]

  • Stefano Sollima for Web Story

    'ZeroZeroZero' Creator on Making an Old Story New and How Andrea Riseborough Got Hurt (EXCLUSIVE)

    Stefano Sollima, the Italian director known in Hollywood for “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and TV show “Gomorrah,” is the main creative force behind cocaine-trafficking series “ZeroZeroZero,” which will world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5. Festival chief Alberto Barbera has praised it as blowing “Narcos” out of the water. Sollima directed [...]

  • Ballers HBO

    'Ballers' to End After Season 5 on HBO

    “Ballers” is coming to an end after five seasons on HBO. Star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson confirmed the news via an emotional Instagram video. “My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for rocking with us every season. You made us HBO’s highest rated comedy for years and most importantly, you helped [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • Disney Villains Series 'Book of Enchantment'

    'Book of Enchantment' Series Based on Iconic Disney Villains Shelved at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has decided to not move forward with “Book of Enchantment,” a series based on some of Disney’s most iconic villains, Variety has learned from sources. The news comes the day before Disney is set to unveil its streaming service at the biannual D23 convention in Anaheim. The prospective project was based on the [...]

  • ITV STUDIOS PRESENTS VERAFILM 2Pictured: BRENDA

    Brenda Blethyn to Star in New ITV Sitcom 'Kate and Kolo'

    Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn is set to star in the new sitcom “Kate and Kolo” for ITV, the U.K. broadcaster announced at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Blethyn takes on the title role of Kate in the comedy alongside theater and film actor Jimmy Akingbola as Kolo. Blethyn is a popular star with ITV audiences after having [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content