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Five things we learned from the NBC Upfronts

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Larry Busacca/Getty Images file

Who knew that NBC topper Bob Greenblatt loved to entertain Dolly Parton in his Beverly Hills home? Or that a comedy about a Walmart-like big box store could actually rescue NBC from a comedy drought?

These and more are among the biggest five things EW learned after attending NBC’s Upfront Presentation Monday at Radio City Musical Hall in New York City.

1. NBC would rather make TV stars than bring more back. Relax: Not all of the net’s shows are headlined by no-names. Old faves like Craig T. Nelson,  Zachary Levi, Eva Longoria, Wesley Snipes, and Rob Lowe will top several new shows, but many upcoming programs are refreshingly dotted with (virtually) unrecognizable faces. Most interesting newbie: Blindspot, featuring a tat-covered Jaimie Alexander.

2. Rolling out more new dramas seems to freak out Greenblatt, who told the audience at Radio City that NBC is competing with 250 other series currently on TV. Yowza.

3. Greenblatt says the net’s biggest gamble is moving The Blacklist to Thursday, a “very difficult night for us,” as he moaned. (The cold reality wasn’t lost on star James Spader, who failed to crack a smile when the cameras focused on him during the presentation).

In reality, it seems like an even bigger roll of the dice for NBC is to delay their best stuff until after Thanksgiving. Besides Eva Longoria’s new Jane the Virgin-like dramedy, Hot and Bothered, there is the America Ferrera starrer Superstore, which focuses on a Walmart-like loony bin; Heroes: Reborn (OMG, did the teaser just reveal that Claire the cheerleader is dead?); and the new comedy Crowded, featuring Patrick Warburton and the infectious Carrie Preston. For fall, we get a medical drama about a heart surgeon called—hold onto your defibrillator paddles—Heartbreaker

4. We still don’t know when—or if—Brian Williams will return to Nightly News. There was no mention of him at the presentation.

5. Greenblatt loves him some Dolly Parton. The country crooner, who is developing a biopic for NBC called Coat of Many Colors,  revealed to the crowd that she likes to visit and sing with Greenblatt in his Beverly Hills home. She then asked Greenblatt to join her in a rendition of her oldie but goodie “I Will Always Love You”—but he only tickled the ivories. No singing from the big guy.

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