It was the ratings, of course. But NBC’s top entertainment executives went on record to give a little more insight into their decision-making process on canceling Community and The Michael J. Fox Show last season.
NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told reporters at his Television Critics Association press tour session in Beverly Hills on Sunday that the Community fandom’s “six seasons and a movie” mantra had nothing to do with the network.
“That sixth season thing was created by them — I’m surprised they didn’t say ’10 seasons and a movie,'” the executive said. “And [the mantra started] before my time [at NBC]. It didn’t just make sense for us to have another season of it at that level of audience.”
Community has been saved by Yahoo, which will fund and distribute a sixth season of the comedy cult favorite. “I don’t know if we we’ll ever know how many will watch it on on Yahoo, I guess we will, I’m curious if they’ll have a bigger audience with it than we did,” Greenblatt said.
When asked why the network scrapped The Michael J. Fox Show, Greenblatt explained, “I actually thought Michael in and of himself would help us overcome some of those challenges on Thursday, and I think it just reinforced how difficult a night it [has become] for us—why is why we’re making some significant changes this season on Thursday.” Greenblatt also mentioned that experimenting with different lead-ins didn’t seem to help Michael J. Fox (or Sean Saves the World, for that matter), and both shows were up against strong competition from the other networks, particularly CBS’s Big Bang Theory-led lineup.
Meanwhile, NBC is still looking to cash in on the family sitcoms that have proven successful for ABC and CBS. “Modern Family could have easily been a show with a studio audience,” Greenblatt said. NBC’s efforts to revitalize the form include current multi-cam sitcom Undateable, the Ellen DeGeneres-produced One Big Happy, and the buzzy Bill Cosby show now in development at the network.
The as-yet-untitled Cosby vehicle (likely due in summer or fall of 2015) will star the comedy legend as “the patriarch of the family, dispelling his classic wisdom on relationships, parenthood, everything in life. It’s him with three daughters with husbands and grandchildren,” said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “It’s just a classic family sitcom.” Mike O’Malley and sitcom vet Mike Sikowitz are currently writing the project.
— Marc Snetiker contributed to this report
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