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Upfronts 2015: NBC Returns to Radio City Hoping for Scripted Turnaround

New York — After a year on the west side of Manhattan at the Javits Center, NBC returned its annual upfront presentation to Radio City Music Hall.

NBC’s chairman of entertainment Bob Greenblatt kicked off the procedings joking that it was a “tough call between Javits and Radio City.” Greenblatt acknowledged the struggles of NBC’s scripted slate this past season (Mysteries of Laura was the lone freshman to get a renewal). "I'll admit we had some ups and downs this year." However, he noted that NBC was still on track to finish the season No. 1 in the adults 18-49 demo, largely due to The Voice and NFL football.

The presentation was light on comments — Greenblatt noted that at last year’s upfront he went 17 minutes before playing any clips of new shows — with clips of new shows including Blindspot, People Are Talking, The Player, Heroes Reborn and Heartbreaker dominating the presentation.

One of NBC’s brightest spots is its late-night programming and Greenblatt noted that he expects Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show to continue its dominance even when CBS unveils Stephen Colbert’s Late Show this fall. "We think we'll continue to have the hot hand.”

Fallon was on hand briefly, though in his short time he delivered some of the best one-liners of the morning, starting with telling Greenblatt “we’re gonna miss you” as he took the stage. In talking about how Tonight Show does five shows a week, he joked that it’s "almost a whole season for most NBC shows."

NBC’s Sunday Night Football brought out announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth to tout the upcoming season. The annual Thursday night kickoff game this year features the defending champion New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 3, and Collinsworth took the chance to bring up the “deflategate scandal” which is reported to result in a suspension for star quarterback Tom Brady.

“All those great Patriots fans fired up to celebrate yet another championship season… and will Tom Brady be there?” Collinsworth joked.

After years of helping out at CBS’ upfronts due to his role with former comedy How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris took the stage for the first time at NBC’s presentation to plug his new live variety show,Best Time Ever.

Giving the audience a sample of what his show, which is based on the U.K.’s Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Harris punked MediaVest’s Melissa Shaprio, with help from Dan Lovinger, executive VP, advertising sales, NBCUniversal, and NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert.

Yaccarino spoke briefly about data (she joked that buyers in the audience were likely to hear that word 1,000 times this week), but the most notable part of her speech was the absence of the word “television,” instead calling it “premium video.”

NBC ended its upfront will a pair of performances from Dolly Parton, who is working with NBC on a TV movie based on her song Coat of Many Colors. Parton’s second song, a performance of “I Will Always Love You,” featured Greenblatt accompanying on the piano.