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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Heroes 3.14: It’s a strange new world we live in…

Welcome back, kids, to one of the most bashed series currently on television…and that’s by people who used to consider themselves fans of the show. Now, clearly, if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you know that, although I’ve been here from the very beginning of the “Heroes” saga and plan to hang on ’til the bitter end, I’ve had my problems with the show. Clearly, Tim Kring and the gang can’t please all of the people all of the time, but even I can admit that Season 3 started off looking like it was going to blow the disappointment of Season 2 out of the water and only ended up having its own share of problems. Worst of all, the first half of the third season, “Villains,” came to an end with the death of one of the series’ one interesting new characters: Papa Petrelli, played by the ever-awesome Robert Forster. (The only consolation is that, well, we thought the character of Papa was dead throughout the first two seasons, so there’s every reason to believe that they’ll find a way to bring him back to life yet again.)

Tonight, we were presented with the beginning of the second half of Season 3, which has been given the subtitle of “Fugitives.” How was it, you ask…?

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“Heroes” directors talk “Fugitives,” fans, and (Bryan) Fuller

The return of “Heroes” from its mid-season vacation is coming up fast…the show returns with its latest saga, “Fugitives,” on Monday, February 2…and the folks working behind the scenes are excited about it, even if some of the fans are less than thrilled with the way the show has been progressing in its third season.

“Part of the fun of being a fan is the grousing,” acknowledged Allan Arkush, who not only serves as one of the show’s directors but also as an executive producer. “That’s certainly one of the biggest functions of the internet: to be a place where you can get pissed off and show it. But I thought Tina Fey was pretty funny about it on the Golden Globes. I mean, I didn’t disagree with her point of view on it! It’s fine, but I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of the Season 2 DVDs, and people have been saying, ‘Well, when you look at them in a row, it’s a completely different experience, and now I see how the whole thing is threaded together!’”

Arkush doesn’t tend to read the negative press in that much detail, but he did take particular issue with Entertainment Weekly’s recent smackdown of the “Villains” episode.

“I thought it was way off mark,” he said. “They said something about how it was one of the worst episodes of the year of any show, and I thought, ‘That’s not true at all! This is actually a really good episode!’ It was the one where we went back and showed how Sylar met Elle and showed what Arthur Petrelli had done, and I thought it was fun to kind of go back and see how all of that happened and see parts of their lives that we hadn’t seen, but they said, ‘Oh, it’s a very contrived concept.’ I liked it. It was one of my favorite episodes of the year!”

It’s fair to say, however, that just about everyone – not just fans, but, indeed, Arkush as well – is excited about the return of Bryan Fuller to the “Heroes” family. (Granted, they’re probably not that thrilled that it took the cancellation of “Pushing Daisies” to get him back, but you take the good with the bad.)

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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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