Skip to main content

NBC Upfront: Reilly Reigns at Radio City

And the broadcast upfronts are off. NBC, per usual, is kicking off the week of glitzy stage shows with a 3 p.m. event at Radio City.

NBC entertainment chief Kevin Reilly promises us he'll have us out of here in just over an hour-ambitious since these things can drag on for two or three, but given that NBC's announcing only four new dramas, not implausible.

The show, he says, is about "content, strategy and partnership," and NBC, he says, about "mass and class."

Apparently more fixated on the "mass" part of that, he repeats several times that NBC's invited its show creators to take the "bulk-up challenge" with the network-a cutesy way of saying they're adding more episodes to "The Office" and "Earl", and giving "Heroes" a spin-off.

"We've got the class and now we need more mass," he says.

Taking the self-deprecating road Jeff Zucker took on the same stage at last year's upfront, Reilly acknowledges NBC's fourth-place status saying, "frankly we need to be more better."

Blaming long hiatuses and early daylight savings time, he says the network's poor performance has been a "big, fat disappointment and one we're going to put behind us."

Reilly gets a big cheer when he announces more "Friday Night Lights" and brings out the "Heroes" cast before rolling clips of the new shows. New dramas "Journeyman" and "Life" fall flat. "Lipstick Jungle," Candace Bushnell's power-girl follow-up to "Sex and the City" gets big laughs and applause, as does "Chuck," Josh Schwartz's power-to-the-nerds follow-up to "The OC." "Bionic Woman," which Reilly described several times this morning as "loud," will appeal to "Heroes" fans who take to that superhuman type stuff.

Reilly keeps interjecting during the clips to make rush-job announcements about online advertising opportunities tied to the new shows. The brevity's appreciated, although Reilly's almost too conspicuously veering from the lengthy (and much-bashed) digital diatribe Zucker gave last year.

On the reality front, "Age of Love" and the new karaoke show prompt chuckles from the mezzanine. Have already forgotten what the others were about.

NBC, says, Reilly has already put clips of its new shows online and is letting viewers know in a promo during Heroes tonight.

Promising a "short-form entertainment bonanza on NBC," Reilly kicks it to Jerry Seinfeld, who gets the crowd going to promote the series of short comedy "minisodes" he's putting on the network to promote his animated Dreamworks film Bee Movie.

"I'm coming back to NBC in primetime," he says before confessing he doesn't know what to call the minute-long clips: "'minisodes?' 'TV Juniors,' 'tiny-tainment?'"

Football (um, snore, but that's just me), the promise of more than 2400 hours of Beijing Olympics coverage over 17 days, a pitch from NBC U Sales/Marketing chief Michael Pilot, a lengthy walk through the grid and we're out. Finally. 4:25 Definitely a lot longer than an hour.

Overall, a low-wattage show with few star appearances, but the week's still very young…ABC tomorrow.