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Caught Between '30 Rock' and a Hard Place -- The Critics' Scrum
January 6, 2012  | By Bill Brioux


PASADENA, Calif. -- What did NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt tell critics attending TCA Friday morning?

The first network executive session of the Television Critics Association tour will be hard to top for candor. Unlike long-time CBS programming boss Nina Tassler, for example -- the queen of the non-answer -- Greenblatt actually answers questions.


And, as usual, a few of the best goodies came in the post-session scrum.

Greenblatt revealed that he quietly re-signed Alec Baldwin to another two seasons of 30 Rock. Whether there will be a season past the one about to start will be a call Greenblatt will make right before the next upfronts. He has six new comedies in development.

Another scrum goodie: NBC/Universal, which produces House for Fox, has not tried to negotiate an extension to that eight-year-old series beyond this season. Both showrunner David Shore and star Hugh Laurie would probably have to take pay cuts. Greenblatt says if Fox passes, he won't likely scoop it up for his network. Not at this price point, basically.

Greenblatt started the session by admitting NBC "had a really bad fall, worse than I hoped for, but about what I expected." Prime Suspect, The Playboy Club and Free Agents were all DOA. "Obviously, it's always better to just develop hit pilots."

He stressed that Community is not canceled, and will return -- he just doesn't know when. Chuck, on the other hand, is dead dead dead after this coming midseason run.


Other Greenblatt goodies:

-- On Howard Stern joining America's Got Talent: "His plan is not to usurp the show and make it the Howard Stern circus." Folks who think Stern will wreck this show should settle down, says Greenblatt.

-- Greenblatt joked NBC "won't go into receivership" if new buzz drama Smash isn't a smash. Still, he's giving it the best boost NBC's got by launching it behind The Voice.

-- On the failure of Prime Suspect: "Maybe I should just blame the hat [seen at right] and move on."

-- On Ricky Gervais returning once again to host the Golden Globes: "We love Ricky." Translation: NBC loves publicity.

-- On Mariska Hargitay sticking with Law & Order: SVU: Yes. In fact, her part is being boosted with a new storyline opposite Harry Connick Jr. Greenblatt says an SVU return next season is likely at this point.

-- Greenblatt says NBC will actually make money off their new NFL deal, thanking the league for throwing them a Thanksgiving game.

There also was some talk about Matt Lauer sticking with the Today show, and the odds of Ryan Seacrest continuing to make more stuff for NBC cable station E!, but I nodded off.



[Bill Brioux, always one of our best and busiest TVWW correspondents on press tour, writes about TCA news, and other matters, on his own website, TV Feeds My Family. Visit there, and you can read other tasty press tour stories he's filed already, on interviewing and being entertained by Tony Bennett, on an unlikely but musical marriage between PBS and the B-52s -- and on an out-of-nowhere exhibit of TV history and memorabilia at the San Francisco airport [see picture at right].

Keep it up, Bill. And it's what? -- only Day 3? Nice work. Thanks! -- DB]



Rich said:

A "Scrum" huh...Are you sure NBC deserves the extra "R" in that word? I will give Greenblatt credit for admitting the odor when he puts dead fish on the air.

I haven't watched ANYTHING on NBC since "The Cape" now you're saying Howard Stern as a judge on a prime-time show?? I don't know if NBC's getting bolder or just flailing with their choices. It doesn't sound like they're trying to be #1 as it sounds like they're trying to just do enough to keep the lights on.

The network relies too heavily on SNL & Lorne Micheals 'Pets' (related products), I'd like to see something that actually breaks NBC's mold of the Jeff Zucker era. I've seen better programming on Funny or Die.com & "Attack of the Show" on G4TV.

Comment posted on January 7, 2012 12:26 AM

geo said:

Wow! Re-signing Baldwin was a big surprise. A happy one though. I still love 30 Rock and it would never survive without him.

Comment posted on January 7, 2012 2:24 PM
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