Press Tour Diary: NBC bosses tout plans for 'Chuck,' 'FNL,' 'Southland,' Paula Abdul, and more!
WHO: Peacock entertainment prez Angela Bromstad, alternate programming and production VP Paul Telegdy, and the ghost of ex-chairman Ben Silverman.
PREDICTIONS: Silverman postmortem, lots of chatter about the late-night wars and Leno’s move to 10 p.m., possibly some Paula Abdul reaction…
9:44 am/PST: Not even the promise of a “hot breakfast” could drag me to this morning’s Wake Up With Al [Roker] panel. Don’t we already wake up with Al? The whole thing is confusing to me.
9:48 am: Appropriately, the first two words uttered are “Ben” and “Silverman.” The context: Why didn’t any of his summer experiments (Merlin, The Philanthropist, etc) work?
9:52 am: The Paula Abdul question! Might she come work for NBC? “Paula is an exceptional talent,” says Telegdy. “We have no specific plans for her, but I read the breaking news last night and wouldn’t rule anything out.”
9:53 am: On losing Bryan Fuller again on Heroes, “He was there to get them back on track,” says Bromstad. “Our deal with Bryan now is development. We’re looking forward to his development…. He’s no longer in the writing room and the show is doing exceptionally well creatively.”
9:54 am: Bromstad says it was always Silverman’s plan to come in, run the network into the ground, and then walk away in disgrace. Here’s how she actually put it: “This has always been Ben’s plan to transition back to his entrepreneurial roots. I don’t think he was looking to be at NBC for a long-term thing.” (This gets a huge laugh in the ballroom.)
9:59 am: On the narrowing gap between Conan and Letterman, Telegdy points out that “all but one night [Conan] has won in 18-49.” Adds Bromstad: “The true test is going to come this fall.”
10:01 am: On the ratings failure of Kings, Bromstad says the show was the victim of an overly-complicated premise. “In a really crowded marketplace people want to know what something is about,” she says. “That was a very complex idea… too difficult to sell in a 30-second spot.”
10:05 am: “Based on our research, this is going to be a long-term commitment for us,” Bromstad says of the Leno experiment. “We feel really good about the 10 o’clock alternative.”
10:06 am: In case you were curious, here’s the NBC brand in a nutshell: Fundamentally positive, relatable characters who possess an optimism. “I think we have fallen short of it in the past couple of years,” Bromstad admits. “It’s our goal to bring back the high quality, sophisticated programming.” (Provided the premise can be boiled down to 10 words or less.)
10:13 am: On delaying Friday Night Lights until next summer, Bromstad says, “Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the ratings to justify putting it on the fall schedule.”
10:14 am: Southland underwent some retooling over the hiatus. “[The show] tried to do too much in those [initial] six episodes,” says Bromstad. “It became [too] serialized. It’s now going to focus on Regina King and Ben Mackenzie and those two sets of officers.”
10:14 am: The bloated two-hour Celebrity Apprentice episodes are here to stay — whether you like it or not! Ditto America’s Got Talent and Biggest Loser!
10:20 am: The decision to pass on another season of Medium was primarily a financial one, says Bromstad.
10:21 am: Bromstad has read the first four Chuck scripts and the show “is on a great track creatively.” That said, there are no plans to move up its midseason launch. She doesn’t rule out increasing the show’s 13-episode order and allowing fresh episodes to “run over into the summer… those are discussions we will continue to have.”