TCA: NBC's Greenblatt Says Leno Succession Talks Are 'Premature'
In touting network's fall gains, NBC chief confident 'Revolution,' 'Smash' can return strong
By Andrea Morabito -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/6/2013 2:37:16 PM
Complete Coverage: TCA Winter Press Tour 2013
Pasadena, Calif. -- ABC's Jimmy Kimmel may be getting a lot of ink related to promotion to 11:35 p.m., but NBC brass say while the move will likely spike ratings initially, they are not yet plotting for a future after Jay Leno.
"I don't think it would be wise for us to prognosticate on the ratings," said Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and late night programming for NBC Entertainment, at the 2013 Television Critics' Association winter press tour Sunday. "We anticipate some sort of impact and some initial interest in Jimmy's show."
"The reason we're not concerned is Jay's incumbent legacy," NBC Entertainment chairman Greenblatt added, pointing to Leno's consistent topping of David Letterman at 11:35.
Though NBC recently extended its contract with Leno to 2014, Greenblatt said it would have been "disingenuous" to talk about a succession plan with Jimmy Fallon at that time. "All of those conversations are a little bit premature," he said.
Unlike this time last year, when Greenblatt opened his executive session by admitting to NBC's "really bad fall," this time he could say, "what a difference a year makes, right?"
He touted NBC's growth this fall, including the fact that it is the only broadcast network to improve its ratings and now ranks as the No. 1 network in the adults 18-49 demo and No. 2 in total viewers behind CBS. But he acknowledged the rocky months ahead without Sunday Night Football and The Voice.
"No one is more aware of what January through March will bring than us," Greenblatt said. "I think we have a very robust midseason plan."
Part of that midseason plan is The Voice returning with two new coaches in Usher and Shakira. The show did not suffer from airing two cycles in a single calendar year - "so far, so good," Telegdy said, and NBC has already committed to two cycles of The Voice in 2013. But beyond that, its scheduling is not yet determined, and the network will wait to see if any viewer fatigue sets in.
"We'd only be smart to look at it season by season and year by year," Greenblatt said. "We haven't written that in stone yet. If we feel that we're hurting the franchise in some way, we can change that."
As for the season's top new drama, Revolution, which will take a risky four-month hiatus to allow its remaining first-season episodes to air consecutively, Greenblatt expressed confidence that audiences would follow the cable-like scheduling model. "I actually think it's the better long-term play."
Another show that will take a long midseason hiatus is sophomore comedy Up All Night, which is being retooled as a multi-camera and just saw the exit of its creator, Emily Spivey.
"That was show that wasn't performing the way that we needed it to," NBC Entertianment president Jennifer Salke said. "They felt a little tied down by the format they were in. We all thought performing in front of a live audience was the way to change that."
Greenblatt expressed confidence in Smash, which also replaced its season one showrunner and underwent some cast changes for its sophomore return. "My only worry is not having as strong of a lead-in as we did last season," he said. "In some big ways it's a very different show, but it's very much the same show."
As for NBC's Rock Center experiment, which in February moves time periods again to Fridays, Greenblatt said "we still really believe in Brian Williams and that team," but "it was time to get back to drama on Thursday at 10." Do No Harm premieres in that time slot on Jan. 31.
Mike Schryver - 1/6/2013 8:56:09 PM EST
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