Coming off its best season in several years, NBC had the pleasure of kicking off the network portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Sunday. NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt was joined by Jennifer Salke, network president, and Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and late night programming, to discuss the network's lack of Emmy love, Hannibal's ratings, whether Cristin Milioti dies in A to Z, and more.
On the lack of Emmy nominations for The Blacklist and star James Spader:
... Greenblatt sounded a little wistful when discussing the network's lack of Emmy love and the continued rise and dominance of cable shows at the Emmys. "I think emotionally we all care. Despite telling yourself that it doesn't matter ... of course you want that validation," he said. "At the same time, there [are] so many great shows on so many great networks now. And cable has the advantage of doing material that's darker and more interesting. On some levels ... [it] feels cooler than what we can do."
On why NBC doesn't have more shows like Hannibal, which feels very cable-esque:
... "The minute you try to do something that is dark and subversive, you start to peel away the mass audience," said Greenblatt. "Hannibal is one of the best shows we have creatively and one of the best reviewed shows and we still struggle to find an audience for it." Greenblatt also said he thinks if the show were on a cable network the ratings wouldn't matter and it would be deemed more successful.
Bonus scoop: Salke said they just heard the pitch for Season 3, which will once again premiere at midseason, and it "blew us away."
On whether the multi-camera comedy is dead at NBC (and everywhere):
... When asked why NBC doesn't have success with the multi-cam sitcom à la CBS, Greenblatt said the network "keeps going back to [the multi-cam]" and "hopes to balance the scales" a bit, but the problem is that there has been an entire generation of shows that moved away from the format, reinforcing the idea that single-camera comedies are better. "We're trying to revitalize the form," said Greenblatt, "but nine times out of 10 [people] want to do a single-cam." Salke believes it's all about finding the people who want to write and cultivate those types of shows.
... Greenblatt admitted the network struggled to bring in an audience for the show, and that that they banked a bit on name recognition to bring in an audience for both The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World. "[We] actually thought Michael in and of himself would help us overcome those challenges on Thursday... [but it] just reinforced how difficult of a night for us it has become." That is, of course, why the network is blowing up the comedy block this season.
On the network's choice to do two new romantic comedies next season:
... Now that How I Met Your Mother has gone to the big MacLaren's in the sky, NBC is hoping to fill the void the CBS sitcom left in network television with Marry Me and A to Z. "Both shows are an attempt to capture a romantic comedy that we don't think is on the air," explained Salke, who was also quick to deny that Casey Wilson's Marry Me is a closed-ended series, noting the series could potentially encapsulate life after the engagement, like the first year of marriage, having babies, etc. New series A to Z, on the other hand, is limited by design as it follows a relationship from beginning to end, but Greenblatt joked they're "adding letters to the alphabet." On a side note: They said Cristin Milioti's character does not die at the end. Whether or not Ben Feldman ends up with Cobie Smulders, though, is still up in the air.
On whether we'll see more of Maya Rudolph's variety show:
... Telegdy called Rudolph's special "an imperfect first episode," noting that the network really enjoyed the experience and is in discussions with Rudolph about how to replicate it on a special basis or as a weekly show. "The fact that ... it did so strongly was very encouraging," said Greenblatt.
On bringing Red Nose Day to the U.S.:
... Familiar to our friends across the pond, NBC is bringing Red Nose Day to the States for the first time in May 2015. The day-long event will culminate in a three-hour primetime broadcast special involving great comedy moments (the network is partnering with Funny or Die!), celebrity appearances, and musical acts.
On this winter's live performance of Peter Pan:
... Christopher Walken, whose musical stylings have been showcased in films like Hairspray and the recent adaptation of Jersey Boys, has been cast in the role of Captain Hook in NBC's upcoming production of Peter Pan. Greenblatt even joked that "this might be the first tap-dancing Captain Hook you've ever seen."
Bonus scoop: The network approached Kristen Bell to star in the production, but she was not available given the time involved, and the fact that she's pregnant with her second child.
TV.com's 2014 Fall Preview:
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AIRED ON 5/23/2014
Season 2 : Episode 13