NBC Affils Leaders Pumped for Peacock

Several NBC affiliate managers headed into their annual New York affiliate meeting this afternoon feeling very good about the upfront presentation the network had delivered earlier today. With 14 new shows, including several dramas that looked like they cost a bit of money, execs such as Dispatch Broadcast President/NBC affiliates board chairman Michael Fiorile and Post-Newsweek President/CEO Alan Frank, said the network had put itself in a position to finally find some primetime success.

NBC picked up a whopping 14 new programs for 2010-2011, and needed nearly two hours to present them all at the Hilton in New York today.

“It’s the best we’ve seen from NBC in a long, long, long time,” said Alan Frank, who then uttered several more long’s to emphasize the point.

A number of attendees mentioned taut political drama The Event as the best of the sizzle reel, with multiple mentions of the U.S. marshal drama Chase too.

The presentation started out with a prepared clip from 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy, as played by Alec Baldwin, of course, who implored the media buyers in the room to avail themselves of NBC’s open bar afterwards–and skip the Fox upfront presentation slated for later today. With Conan not joining the Fox family, Donaghy posited, who would the buyers really want to meet at the event? Family Guy’s Stewie isn’t a real person, he said, and House’s Hugh Laurie isn’t even American. “Like our president,” Donaghy said with a smug adjustment of his necktie.

Besides its primetime offerings, TV Chairman Jeff Gaspin said NBC was in strong shape in late-night. He acknowledged that the network “might not have taken the easiest route” to re-establishing The Tonight Show’s dominance, but said NBC was tickled to have Jay Leno back in his old job.

Office mates Kelly, Kevin, Erin and Ryan, with a fan of the show posing in the middle.

Jimmy Fallon then delivered the day’s best live moments, telling the audience he’d happily compose live commercials for their brands. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a handful of barre chords, he took suggestions from the audience, then delivered off-the-cuff (at least they seemed that way, based on Fallon’s stalls and stammers) jingles for the likes of Budweiser (it makes this “stud wiser,” he quipped) and search engine Bing. Lots of words rhyme with Bing, ad-libbed Fallon, while Google has just “frugal” and “kugel.”

Fallon also gave the day’s first shout-out to the affiliates in the room, thanking them for putting Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on their air.

The affiliates acknowledged that it was a bit hard to keep the various shows straight with such a long lineup of debutants. “It’s hard to stand out with 13 new shows,” said LIN TV Executive V.P. Scott Blumenthal, who nonetheless was impressed by the presentation.

Among other presentation highlights: Kathy Bates calling another attorney an “a**hole” on mid-season legal drama Harry’s Law (hmmm…wonder if that will make it onto the air), a pair of programs that used Hall & Oates songs in their trailers (”You Make My Dreams Come True” in Perfect Couples, and I think it was “Kiss on My List” in Undercovers), a long unspliced clip of the Cindy Chupak comedy Love Bites that involved a man attempting to sleep with Jennifer Love Hewitt on an airplane (with Hewitt playing Hewitt), and Cris Collinsworth from the Sunday Night Football crew, lamenting that he was called in to prepare for his presentation before finding out if Love Hewitt and her suitor closed the deal in the airplane john.

Throw in the canapés, ravioli and rum & cokes, and it was a lot to digest. But count several key affils as impressed by NBC’s song and dance.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the L.A. Times and New York magazine.