TCA Tour: NBC Executive Session

We just had NBC-Universal Executive Session, with Angela Bromstad (President, Primetime Entertainment) and Paul Telegdy (Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming and Production) taking the stage to answer our questions, and…you know, I’ve got to be honest: it was pretty underwhelming. No surprise: the first two words of the very first question were “Ben Silverman,” and his name remained a recurring theme for the remainder of the session. It also wasn’t a surprise that the topic of Conan’s ratings and the expectation for Jay’s ratings were brought up, but it was absolutely ridiculous that neither Bromstad nor Telegdy seemed prepared to handle the queries, instead either feigning uncertainty about the numbers, offering vague responses which signified nothing, or attempting to pawn the questions off to Jay’s panel this afternoon. This immediately came back to bite Bromstad on the arse when she was asked outright if she’d be on that panel (she won’t be), and it led to one critic offering a sarcastic apology for asking questions of the wrong people.

Here’s the extent of information that I was able to glean from the panel:

* Bryan Fuller’s latest departure from “Heroes” was dismissed as being due to the fact that he’s at a point in his career where he’s really wanting to create his own shows, so NBC is focusing on their development deal with him. As for “Heroes,” Bromdstad said that Fuller helped Tim (Kring) get back on track, helped everybody decide where they were going, and that the show is doing exceptionally well creatively.

* The start of “30 Rock” has been delayed due to Alec Baldwin’s movie schedule, which is why the network is kicking off “Community” in its timeslot. The 8 PM timeslot will therefore be filled with six Thursday night “Weekend Update” specials, three of which are currently on the schedule.

* We are assured that, despite the fact that some shows which were previously airing in the 10 PM timeslot are now being moved to 9 PM out of necessity, there should be no issue with their content in their new time periods.

* The network’s new zombie series, “Day One,” is being embraced due to the sci-fi success of “Heroes.” “It’s a genre we cannot ignore,” said Bromstad, though she admitted that it does tend to be a little more of a narrow genre. Her most notable comment on the matter, however, was the acknowledgment that the network is viewing “Day One” as a “big event” for the network…but not necessarily one which would return for a second season.

* There is always talk of doing another regular “Apprentice,” but according to Telegdy, the most recent “Celebrity Apprentice” had a ratings jump from the previous, so we probably shouldn’t look for it to happen any time soon.

* “Friday Night Lights” will not be back until summer 2010. “We just think that ‘Friday Night Lights’ is a sensational show,” said Bromstad, “but it doesn’t have the ratings to justify it on the fall schedule.”

* Regarding “Southland,” the network has “incredible passion” for the future, but its future depends on how it does in the fall. “We’ve made some creative adjustments,” said Bromstad. “I feel like they tried to do too much in the first six episodes – instead of letting the audience become more familiar with characters, they became too serialized – so the show will focus on Regina King and Ben McKenzie, the crimes, and how they come together.”

* RE: “Medium,” “It was definitely a show we were considering picking up ’til the very end, but we had to make choices creatively and financially.”

* RE: “Chuck,” “The great thing is that they’re on a great track collectively. We’ve got 3 or 4 scripts in already, and it is something we can move around, but right now it’s not scheduled to come on until March.” The series has a 13 episode pick-up, and it’s possible that it could be bumped up, but “these are just discussions we’re continuing to have.”

  

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TCA Tour, Day 2: “How’d You Get So Rich?”

I’m still not happy with TV Land for giving up their “all classic television, all the time” format in favor of bringing in a new crop of reality shows that, quite frankly, we could see on virtually any other network on the dial. But with that said, I have to admit that their latest endeavor – “How’d You Get So Rich?” – is a unique concept that I haven’t seen anywhere else, introducing viewers to hard-working, regular folks who went from rags to mega-riches by coming up with ideas and inventions that are pretty simple.

The show’s host…? Joan Rivers. And, boy, does that woman know how to liven up a TCA panel.

“I don’t know about any of you,” she began, “but, you know, you walk down a street and somebody goes past you in a Maserati or a Lamborghini or whatever those stupid cars are, and you go, ‘How did they get so fucking rich?’ Our show is ringing the doorbells, walking in, and talking to nouveau riche people…and it is so great because they will answer you. They are stupid enough to tell you where their money came from. No ‘oh, well, I don’t think I should talk about it.’ No, it’s, ‘Oh, yes. It’s $4 million, and my husband made it in drugs.’ Our follow-up show is ‘How’d You Get So Fuckin Poor?’ That’ll be hosted by the Madoffs. And everyone will say the same thing: ‘Because of you!'”

But, seriously, folks, you can tell that she really does love the show…not that it stops her from making fun of some of the individuals who are spotlighted on it, or from coming right out and saying that some of the inventions that these people have gotten rich from are so dumb / obvious that they’ll make you want to kill yourself.

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: NBC newsflash

Angela Bromstad, President of Primetime Entertainment, and Paul Telegdy, Executive Vice President of Alternative Programming, just popped up on stage to offer the following tidbits of information, some of which were announced awhile ago but which we haven’t yet covered on Premium Hollywood:

* “Southland,” the new drama from John Wells (which was formerly known as “Police”), will premiere on April 9th, Thursday at 10 PM.

From Emmy Award winners John Wells, Ann Biderman and Chris Chulack comes a raw and authentic look at the police unit in Los Angeles. From the beaches of Malibu to the streets of East Los Angeles, “Southland” is a fast-moving drama that will take viewers inside the lives of cops, criminals, victims and their families. Michael Cudlitz plays John Cooper a seasoned Los Angeles cop assigned to train young rookie Ben Sherman. Cooper’s honest, no-nonsense approach to the job leaves Sherman questioning whether or not he has what it takes to become a police officer. Cudlitz and McKenzie are joined by other cast members including Regina King who plays Detective Lydia Adams. Adams lives with and is the primary caregiver of her mother. Her partner, Detective Russell Clarke (Tom Everett Scott) is an unhappily married father of three. Michael McGrady plays Detective Daniel “Sal” Salinger. Sal oversees fellow gang detectives Nate Moretta (Kevin Alejandro) and Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy). Arija Bareikis plays as patrol officer Chickie Brown, a single mom who dreams of being the first woman accepted into SWAT.

* They have ordered 3 more episodes of “ER,” bringing the season total to 23. The series finale will now air on April 2nd, with a one-hour retrospective preceding the two-hour finale. Why the additional episodes? “Why not?” asked Bromstad. She then clarified, however, that it allows John Wells time to get “Southland” ready.

* They have officially signed on for additional seasons of “The Office” and “The Rock”

* NBC has signed Don Cheadle and his company, Crescendo Productions, to a two-year, first-look television development deal.

* Due to its success up against “American Idol,” they will indeed be picking up another season of “Biggest Loser” for next season.

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Jesse James is a Dead Man”

Here’s this tour’s first acknowledgment of my inherent un-hip-ness: I had no clue who Jesse James was until the panel for his new Spike series, “Jesse James is a Dead Man.” At first, I tried to convince myself that I was wrong, that maybe I still am hip and nobody else knows who he is, either, but when I heard that he’d also been added to the line-up of the sophomore season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” it became clear that I’m definitely uncool. And to think that my reputation could’ve been salvaged if only I’d watched “Monster Garage,” the Discovery Channel series which he hosted…

Just in case you, too, are oblivious to who Mr. James is, allow me offer up this photo:

What you can’t see from the photo, however, is just how much damage has been done to this man since beginning work on this series. According to Spike TV’s Kevin Kay, James will be facing a new challenge each week that could potentially kill him, which sounds like the kind of programming that makes insurance agents run screaming. “We’ve only shot half the season so far, (and) Jesse’s already broken two ribs, his elbow, and was literally on fire,” said Kay. “It makes you wonder what Jesse will
do for a season finale if in fact he makes it that far.”

“If there’s not some danger involved with something that I want to do, then it’s kind of not fun,” said James. “If it’s really easy and safe and seems like a great idea and sensible, then to me, that’s kind of boring. Life is only a one-lap race, so I want to do everything on that one lap just to see what it’s like.”

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