Upfronts 2011: NBC Opens Up New Hour of Comedy on Wednesdays; 'Sing-Off' and 'Voice' to Anchor Mondays

Upfront Central: Complete Coverage from B&C

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NBC ordered 12 new series, six drams and six comedies, for
the 2011-12 TV season and slated a new hour of comedy on Wednesdays this fall,
according to the schedule network executives announced May 15.

Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, who is helming his
first development slate at NBC, says his biggest priority for next season is
nurturing the early success of The Voice
so that it becomes a huge asset for the network that can last for the next
several years. Once NBC decided The Voice
would return in midseason as part of what Greenblatt calls "a full-season view
of the schedule," giving December reality hit The Sing-Off a weekly format in the fall seemed the perfect way to
establish Mondays as a night for musical competition shows on the network.

"We love The Sing-Off,
we think it's the little gem from the past two years that did an incredible job
getting a sizable audience with no promotion and no marketing," Greenblatt told
B&C. The Sing-Off will lead in to new period drama The Playboy Club at 10 p.m.

Priority number two for NBC is buildings its comedy assets
outside of its returning Thursday laffers. It's scheduling what it sees as its
strongest pilots, Up All Night, starring
Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph, and Free Agents, starring Hank Azaria, to anchor a new hour of comedy
on Wednesdays this fall.

"We're not fooling ourselves, it isn't going to be easy,
we're going to have to be patient and spend a fair amount of money trying to
get an audience to that time period in comedy," Greenblatt told B&C. "But to do that we figured
let's take our strongest stars and our strongest pilots and put these two back
together. It just seemed like the best way for us to try to get a foothold

Musical drama Smash,
which has been viewed as a hot pilot since Greenblatt brought it over from his
tenure at Showtime, will get the plum post-Voice
timeslot on Mondays in midseason. The decision to hold the Steve
Spielberg-produced series was made because of the compatibility of the two
shows. "We just thought the compatibility of Smash was so good with The
, and it's such a terrific show that it deserved to have the best
possible send-off that we could give it," Greenblatt told reporters on a
conference call Sunday.

Following in the footsteps of Fox and CBS, NBC will schedule
scripted programming on Fridays this fall, shifting Chuck from Mondays to Fridays for the series' 13-episode final
season. That will lead in to the new fantasy drama Grimm, inspired by the classic Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Thursdays are returning to two hours of comedy, with Community, Parks & Recreation, The
and new entry Whitney, in
the fall followed by rookie drama Prime
. 30 Rock will return in
midseason for an uninterrupted run.

New drama The Firm
will join Sunday lineup in midseason after the conclusion of Sunday Night Football. Other new series
slated for midseason, but are not yet scheduled, are drama Awake and comedies Are You
There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea
, Best
Friends Forever
and Bent.

Several question marks remain in parts of NBC's schedule,
including the pending NFL labor deal's affect on Sunday Night Football. Greenblatt said the network is "optimistic"
that football will return in the fall, but has a contingency plan to produce
"high-quality, live event reality shows" to fill out the Sunday lineup should
the return of the season be delayed. If the net doesn't end up needing the
shows for Sundays, Greenblatt said there are other places they could go on the

And while Celebrity
will return to Sundays in midseason, it is not certain that the
show's star, Donald Trump, who has been flirting with a 2012 presidential run,
will return with it. Greenblatt said, "we're hoping he's back with us," though
said Apprentice would go on with or
without him.

Among the series not returning next year are The Event, Outsourced, and Law &
Order: Los Angeles
. The cancellation of LOLA
leaves NBC with only one remaining L&O
franchise, SVU, which will return for
its 13th season in the fall (with a new detective joining the cast
in midseason). "We just didn't get it off the ground right," Greenblatt says of
LOLA, which premiered last fall but
took a long midseason hiatus to retool its cast and format. "In a different
scenario that might have worked better, but it wasn't a strong enough player to
continue into next season."

Greenblatt also addressed the reports of a new primetime
newsmagazine to be hosted by Brian Williams saying "we are absolutely
developing it" and that it would be put on the air as soon as it's ready,
though the program is still without a title or potential time slot.


*New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)


8-10 p.m. -- The Sing-Off
10-11 p.m. -- THE PLAYBOY CLUB


8-10 p.m. -- The Biggest Loser
10-11 p.m. -- Parenthood


8-8:30 p.m. -- UP ALL NIGHT
8:30-9 p.m. -- FREE AGENTS
9-10 p.m. -- Harry's Law
10-11 p.m. -- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit


8-8:30 p.m. -- Community
8:30-9 p.m. -- Parks and Recreation
9-9:30 p.m. -- The Office
9:30-10 p.m. -- WHITNEY
10-11 p.m. -- PRIME SUSPECT


8-9 p.m. -- Chuck
9-10 p.m. -- GRIMM
10-11 p.m. -- Dateline NBC


Encore programming


7- 8:15 p.m. -- Football Night in America
8:15-11:30 p.m. -- NBC Sunday Night Football


*New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)


7-8 p.m. -- Dateline NBC
8-10 p.m. -- The Celebrity Apprentice
10-11 p.m. -- THE FIRM


8-10 p.m. -- The Voice
10-11 p.m. -- SMASH