I love it when NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt speaks. He just says things that are so…often not based in reality. Or better yet, it’s his reality and you’ve got to admit, it’s quite a world he’s living in there! I want to live in that world, where there’s an up side to everything, including spectacular failures.
Perhaps I’m being harsh. After all, NBC isn’t the fourth place network anymore. Their efforts actually earned them third this year and number two is actually within reach. Number one isn’t freaking close at all, but there are three other networks that have that issue as well.
I thought I would share some of Bob’s gems from yesterday’s NBC TCA panel, along with some pieces of commentary, just to help everyone read between the lines. This year, Bob also had some help from NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke which makes it more fun. After all, we all need some entertainment for a Monday.
- “For us, it was a year of improvement.” Right, but ratings overall were flat. Actually, they were down, but Greenblatt defended with summer ratings added in they are flat. “Flat is the new up.” I think NBC has found their catchphrase for next season.
- “We need to be in the event business.” The Olympics only is held every other year, so this year’s answer is a new game show! 30 million people tune in for those right? “It’s a great big live event.” The Million Second Quiz was touted as the new Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? Yeah, how did that work out for ABC? Anyway, be prepared for the massive press blitz when that show airs.
- “We just closed the deal and haven’t written the script.” Greenblatt said about the new Hillary Clinton miniseries starring Diane Lane. Of course NBC is really big on miniseries now and ready to bring the whole genre back, so much so they’re even bringing back old ideas! They’re developing Rosemary’s Baby (based on the movie of the same name), Plymouth (the journey of the pilgrims), and Stephen King’s Tommyknockers, which was already done as a miniseries by ABC in the 90’s. Oh, they’re also looking to do a sequel of Mark Burnett’s The Bible, which was a big hit for The History Channel. Because we all know there was a sequel to “The Bible.” I think that’s the one when Jesus comes back as a cyborg in the future pissed off and looking for revenge. By the way, for those eager for that Clinton miniseries, that should be done sometime in 2016. Just in time for Hillary to run for President again.
- “The bastard child is now broadcast television. Our peers in the industry don’t look at the work we do. They look at the shiny new bulb in the cable world.” Such a profound statement coming from a guy who made Dexter a smash hit at Showtime.
- “I wish we could get more respect for what we do.” Eight NBC shows improved by 50 percent or more with Live+7 DVR numbers. That means, for every two viewers, another one watched on DVR on another day. Except one of those shows was Smash, which easily achieved that feat when burning off it’s final episodes on Saturday. Reruns of The Love Boat would have earned 50 percent gains on DVR on Saturday, because no one watches TV live on Saturday. All you need is a ratings jump from 1 million to 1.5 million. In Smash’s case, I think it was 2 million live to 3 million DVR, so that’s a plus. By the way, Smash is now cancelled. Another show that achieved that DVR glory, Go On. Cancelled.
- “We actually really loved that show. We were big fans of the show,” said Jennifer Salke about The New Normal. Which they cancelled.
- “You have to make those really difficult calls about what you can renew at what rating and we had to make very difficult calls.” That’s why they cancelled almost their entire comedy lineup. But hey, Chicago Fire and Revolution didn’t fail! No, but the latter had a spectacular crash in the second half and is now on Wednesdays at 8pm. The DVR numbers were really impressive though!
- “It’s one of the best shows on television. I wish it had more acclaim,” Greenblatt said about Parenthood. Granted, that didn’t answer the question as to why they only gave the show 16 episodes last season instead of 22, but less episodes doesn’t send the message to the entertainment community that the network doesn’t believe in the show, right? After all, it works for cable and they’re getting scores of Emmy nominations. Greenblatt also wished they could have done 22 episodes. Great, who could have made that happen? Oh, I don’t know, maybe the chairman of the network?
- In fairness, NBC did win 16 weeks this year compared to 5 the year before and improved 30 of the 43 weeks. That is a something positive for this network to tout. Any chance that quality is the reason then for flat being the new up? “I don’t think there’s inferior product or I wouldn’t have taken the job,” said Greenblatt. “Well, there’s some inferior product,” said Salke.
- Greenblatt explained why they don’t have shows with female leads. “I think we cast the net out there and make the decisions based on so much material and there are are several female oriented shows that we developed that, for one reason or another, you don’t see on the schedule.” In order words, those shows sucked. Back to the drawing board.
- Why is Donald Trump still on the air? They’re “restocking the celebrity pond.” Right, because lack of variety with D-list celebrities just kills a reality show starring a kooky millionaire that stopped being relevant years ago.
- I did sympathize with Greenblatt trying to explain the whole late night thing, because he’s screwed either way on this one. He explained in a nutshell that the Olympics is a good time to launch a new host, Jimmy Fallon is an ideal successor and Jay Leno’s contract was up. The time is right. But still, Leno is going out on top. “Jay has done an incredibly job for more than two decades. He’s actually one of the nicest people you will ever meet and he’s been just a great team player in all of these transitional decisions.” As for having to explain why Seth Myers was chosen for the Late Night job even though he’s older than Jimmy Fallon, well, you get a pass on that Mr. Greenblatt. It was an odd question.
Despite the jaded commentary at times, I’m still rooting for you NBC. I’m just a sucker for the underdog. Keep chasing that rainbow!
A HUGE thanks to the following outlets for providing the quotes and information about yesterday’s panel.
LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-tca-press-tour-nbc-preps-hillary-clinton-mini-tommyknockers-20130727,0,4222756.story