Complete Coverage: 2011 TCA Summer Press Tour
Bob Greenblatt didn't disappoint on Joel McHale's prediction in his introduction of the new NBC entertainment chairman that the word "excited" would be uttered many a time at the Television Critics' Association summer press tour here Monday.
"What we're trying to do with this lineup is inject some excitement into the schedule," Greenblatt said obligingly in his first appearance here for NBC. He spoke of his goal to bring upscale, original and attention-getting shows to the network.
Greenblatt announced here Monday that NBC's most attention-grabbing show, The Voice, will premiere in the post-Super Bowl slot on Feb. 5, with the net's big midseason swing Smash debuting the following day.
Much of what Greenblatt said here Monday echoed of his comments at NBC's upfront in May, including making comedy a priority at the network. This year NBC will experiment with moving comedy off Thursday nights as well as testing out the multi-camera format traditionally dominated by CBS.
"We've got to have more of it and transplant it off of Thursday," Greenblatt said of comedy, which the network will have in Wednesday entries Up All Night and Free Agents this fall.
The sitcoms will face stiff competition against ABC's established competition on that night however. "At some point you have to go there," Greenblatt said of pushing comedy off Thursday nights. "We have as good a bet as we can make on Wednesday night, and hope we can get a foothold. "
While Greenblatt said he remains committed to scripted programming despite most of NBC's biggest ratings draws (The Voice, America's Got Talent, The Biggest Loser) coming from outside the genre. But he spoke to the need to make scripted shows more event-like to encourage the live tune-ins that reality shows draw.
"I come from scripted primarily; it's something I'm really passionate about. We've got to figure out some clever ways to make these scripted shows as must-see as we can," he said, borrowing a phrase from NBC's once-dominant "Must-See TV Thursday" lineup.
Despite Greenblatt's former life as entertainment president at Showtime, he said he is not trying to remake NBC in the pay cabler's image, despite bringing over Smash from that network's development and its assumed Mad Men-inspired The Playboy Club.
"I certainly don't want to turn NBC into Showtime, but I would love to bring some of the creative vitality that we had at Showtime to NBC, we just have to do it in a broad way," he said.
Greenblatt spoke throughout the session of his measured expectations, especially when asked about his confidence in the upcoming season of The Office without Steve Carell. He called James Spader's joining the cast as "the perfect fit for that mix" and said several names from the comedy community will guest-star throughout the next season.
And while many of the development decisions for this season were already made before Greenblatt took over in January, he's taking ownership for the success (or failure) of the fall lineup.
"For better or worse, I was very engaged in these pilots," he said.
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