NBC Boss on Big Fall, Revolution's Hiatus, and Revamping Up All Night and Smash
The Voice | Photo Credits: Mark Seliger/NBC
"What a difference a year makes," NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said during his opening remarks at the Television Critics Association winter previews Sunday.
Of course, he was referring to NBC's huge comeback this fall. On the strength of Sunday Night Football, a fall cycle of The Voice and new drama hit Revolution, NBC ended the fall as the No. 1 broadcast network. In fact, Greenblatt said the network was up 24 percent in the adults-18-to-49 demographic and 19 percent in total viewers; NBC was also the only network to improve in both measures this fall.
Returning winter shows: Where we left off
Greenblatt gave credit to the network's strategy to use the momentum of the summer Olympics to launch the new schedule. "The good news is, the strategy worked and worked better than any of us thought it would," he said. But the question remains: Can NBC stay on top? "Despite all the growth of this past fall, we're very much prepared for the reality of a first quarter without football," Greenblatt said. "No one is more aware what January through March brings than us. We have very robust midseason plans.
"At the end of the day, all we can do is try to attract the best people in the business to come to NBC," Greenblatt continued. "Then it's our job to create the most stimulating environment for those peple to become inspired to do their best work. And of course you have to get a little lucky, which I think we did this fall."
If Revolution is such a big hit, why take it off the air until the end of March? When asked about the recent bad track record for serialized shows that take long midseason breaks, Greenblatt retorted, "Is it uniformly terrible or uniformly terrible for terrible shows? If you've got the goods, and I think we have it, the safer play for us is to make sure Revolution is strong and continues to be strong for the next few years, [not] stretch the last 10 episodes through four months of the schedule."
What's up with all the changes to Up All Night? When the comedy returns, it will be shot in a traditional, multi-camera format — and without its creator. "I think we're going to keep the name. We're still in the throes of creatively developing what the multi-cam version is, but I think it's going to be starkly different," Greenblatt said. "It will be the same characters, but there may be a high-concept twist to it that we're still working on." NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke said NBC's executives felt that it was better to make the unusual change than to scrap the project and work with the actors on other projects. "That talented cast of actors aren't growing on trees," Salke said. "They still thought there were stories to be told in that world and were collectively very passionate about telling them. We felt [being] in front of a live audience would be the best solution. It's a bit of an experiment, but we think it's one worth taking.
Photos: Winter TV eye candy!
Speaking of revamps, how will Smash's second season be different? NBC's Broadway drama made more cuts than A Chorus Line and brought in a new showrunner for Season 2, but Greenblatt said the show will still be familiar. "It wasn't so shocking to me that Karen's boyfriend would leave the show and that Julia's marriage would break up and her husband would disappear," he says. "In some big ways it's a different show, but it also is very much the same show." Plus: With the arrival of guest stars Jennifer Hudson and Jeremy Jordan, Bombshell won't be the only show in town.