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NBC Heads to Neverland And More TCA News

Amy Poehler will produce a pilot starring Natasha Lyonne; the future looks bright for Mindy Kaling’s ”The Mindy Project”; and Katherine Heigl will star in a pilot for NBC

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How will NBC continue its live-musical winning streak? By thinking happy thoughts! The broadcaster surprised reporters Jan. 19 at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena by choosing Peter Pan to follow up December ratings smash The Sound of Music Live! It’s a choice that adds a high-wire, will-somebody-fall-to-their-death element to the production. And for the lead role? “I want Miley Cyrus,” NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters jokingly. NBC also announced the modern-day Wizard of Oz-inspired drama Emerald City, a pilot from producer Amy Poehler starring Natasha Lyonne as a woman who works with senior citizens, and a pilot starring Katherine Heigl as a CIA attaché. Among the other big headlines from the two-week TV conference:

Fond Farewells
Prepare to say goodbye to a trio of cable dramas. HBO will fold The Newsroom after its upcoming third season and shutter Boardwalk Empire after this fall’s fifth season, while FX’s Justified will ride off into the sunset next year. Might Bones join them? Fox hinted the show is likely to be renewed for a 10th and final season.

Shows with Buzz
If you think your DVR is stuffed now, just wait. TCA previewed several promising cable dramas, including FX’s series version of the movie Fargo, starring Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman, and its Middle East despot drama Tyrant. HBO’s Rapture-esque drama The Leftovers from Lost‘s Damon Lindelof intrigued, and its Mike Judge comedy Silicon Valley busted up the room with its Office Space-meets-The Social Network vibe. Meanwhile, Starz wooed fangirls with its fantasy romance Outlander.

Auto Pilot Off
After Lindelof praised cable’s short-order seasons by saying, “When you slow the conveyor belt down…the quality control tends to go up,” Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said he agreed and declared the traditional broadcast pilot season dead, vowing to develop and launch shows year-round. “The system was built for a different era,” said Reilly, who has nine off-season projects in development, like the Broadchurch remake Gracepoint and the Batman origin story Gotham. “Honestly, it’s nothing short of a miracle that the talent is able to produce anything of quality in that environment.”

Net-Speak
TV execs’ favorite noncommittal word to express optimism about a low-rated show’s future? “Bullish.” NBC was bullish about Parks and Recreation, Community, and Parenthood. ABC was bullish on The Goldbergs, Fox on The Mindy Project, and The CW on Reign and The Originals. When reporters pressed NBC’s Greenblatt on what exactly bullish means, anyway, he said: “I’m going to answer without saying anything. Bullish means a 50/50 chance of ‘I don’t know.'”