TCA17: NBC Launching Initiative to Develop Female Directors

Complete Coverage: 2017 TCA Summer Press Tour

NBC came prepared to the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday, announcing a “Female Forward” directors initiative focused on finding and developing female television directors.

The initiative is being spearheaded by NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke in partnership with Lesli Linka Glatter (pictured), who has directed such series as Mad Men, Homeland and NBC’s upcoming Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. The program, which will launch in earnest next season, will give 10 female directors the opportunity to shadow the director of an NBC series for up to three episodes, culminating in an in-season commitment to direct at least one episode herself.

“There are far too few female directors, and we are excited to grow this program over the years,” said Salke on stage.

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf announced that FX was focusing on increasing the number of female directors that work on those shows at summer TCA 2016.

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt also addressed the short-lived move of This Is Us to Thursday nights before the network then rethought the decision and moved the show back to Tuesday.

“We went into scheduling with the great idea to take our biggest hit show and rebrand Thursday,” said Greenblatt. “We all got excited about it. After the dust settled, we looked really closely at the football schedule and talked ourselves into doing six episodes of This Is Us and then a Christmas episode and then bringing the show back in January.

“But we sat down with [creator] Dan Fogelman and talked through the upcoming storylines for the series, and we thought ‘is that the best way to run the show for rabid fans who we hope will come back in droves?’ And we all collectively agreed that interruption is not the best thing for the show, so let’s move it back to Tuesday.

“I think The Voice into This Is Us into Law & Order True Crime: Menendez Murders will be as compelling a lineup as any,” said Greenblatt.

NBC doesn’t have many new shows on its schedule this fall because “we are doing well and didn’t have much need for many shows in the fall,” said Greenblatt, but it is reviving hit sitcom Will & Grace. The cast reunited last October for a digital episode created to encourage people to vote, and the cast and creators enjoyed it so much that they realized they would be interested in returning to the program for a second run.

NBC initially ordered ten episodes of the revival and then expanded it to 12. The new run will ignore the finale, which saw Will and Grace falling out for 20 years and not reuniting until their respective children meet at college. Ideally, Greenblatt said, this new version of Will & Grace would return as a series.

“I hope there is more to come,” he said. “That would be the greatest outcome of this whole thing.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997 - September 2002.