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The Death Notice for Broadcast Television is Still Premature
August 2, 2016  | By David Hinckley

BEVERLY HILLS -- You might want to hold off on those obituaries for broadcast television networks, the chairman of NBC entertainment programming told television writers in Beverly Hills Tuesday.

Robert Greenblatt (below) leavened his defense of the major broadcast networks with particularly encouraging words about the performance of NBC, which he said has held its ground the past couple of years while ABC, CBS and Fox have slipped.

He also touted upcoming events he expects to further boost his network, starting with the Olympic Games that begin Friday.

NBC will use the Olympics to help launch two of its popular returning entertainment shows.

The 11thcycle of its hit talent show The Voice will run right after Olympic coverage on Aug. 19.

The closing night of the Olympics, Aug. 21, will be immediately followed by an Olympic episode of the sitcom Superstore, on which the network seems to be pinning big hopes.

It’s being paired on Thursday nights this fall with The Good Place (top), a new sitcom starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell as two people who meet under very peculiar circumstances in the afterlife.

Greenblatt said he hopes that combination will reestablish the comedy beachhead NBC once had on Thursday nights.

“We feel like we’re back in the sweet spot,” said Entertainment President Jennifer Salke. “It’s an NBC-smart comedy. It’s not trying to please the whole world.”

NBC has had considerable success with its live theater presentations the past two seasons, and this year’s production, which will air Dec. 7, will be Hairspray with Derek Hough, Ariana Grande, Maddie Baillio, Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth and others.

The network will also air a 90th birthday concert salute to Tony Bennett. It will be taped in September and air Dec. 20.

Greenblatt noted that in contrast to recent years, NBC had enough successful shows last season that it is only debuting the one new comedy and two new dramas in the fall.

Those are This Is Us, an everyday-people show featuring three families, and Timeless (Abigail Spencer, right) a time-travel thriller with Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer and Malcolm Barrett.

The TV series adaptation of the film Taken will debut at a future date, Greenblatt said.

Asked about Arnold Schwarzenegger hosting a new edition of Celebrity Apprentice later this year, Greenblatt said only that NBC is “happy to have a show with a guy who’s a big TV star.”

He diplomatically called it “interesting” that the previous Celebrity Apprentice host, Donald Trump, is now the Republican candidate for president, and said he didn’t see any big correlation between someone wanting to do that kind of show and harboring political ambitions.

He did see a correlation between NBC’s success and the health of broadcast television.

“In spite of all the fragmentation, NBC is still a powerful way to bring a mass audience together, ”he said. “It’s not the mass it used to be, but it’s still strong.

“We’ve defied a lot of the doom and gloom around network television.”

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