There was no lip service about reinventing the model at this year’s NBC upfront (get complete upfront coverage here). And that’s a good thing, since broadcasters don’t exactly have the luxury of jumping into an extreme model-makeover at a time when they are fighting for relevance.
Instead NBC introduced a slate of new shows that NBC Universal TV Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin described as “compelling” and “in lock-step with NBC’s upscale brand.”
NBC executives kept the program centered on the shows and skipped the lame PowerPoint presentation futilely detailing how the network is only a couple tenths of a ratings point from second place — if you strip out American Idol on Fox and The Super Bowl on CBS.
Primetime chief Angela Bromstad said the network wanted to “show the entertainment community that NBC is a supportive, creative and smart place to do business.”
If the presentation was a little long (nearly two hours), it’s because NBC had more than a dozen new shows to introduce.
New Thursday-night comedy Outsourced, about a novelty company (they sell leg-humping stuffed dogs and toilet mugs) whose call center is outsourced to India, got some laughs from the advertising community assembled at the New York Hilton for the presentation. And at first blush, the comedy would seem to fit with the un-p.c. humor of The Office. But one wonders how much mileage the show runners can get out of cultural jokes.
There was a lenghty preview of Thursday night dramedy Love Bites featuring Greg Grunberg (Lost, Alias) as a lumpy married guy (almost) scoring in an airplane bathroom with Jennifer Love Hewitt. There was a collective smack on the forehead from the men in the audience who clearly had a hard time believing that Grunberg would decline to join the mile-high club with Hewitt.
But Alec Baldwin, who opened the presentation (via a taped segment) in-character as 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy — “the president of East Coast Entertainment and Microwave programming, and a firm but generous lover” — was the star of the show.
He noted that NBC couldn’t have their presentation at Radio City Music Hall because it was (long pause) “being painted.” And he promised the the new NBC would be “dangerous” with the “perfect balance of allure and terror, like an Eastern European hooker” who rocks your world and then “steals your kidney.”
So, America, when NBC’s 2010-11 schedule leaves you feeling like you’ve been drugged, stitched up and left in a hotel bathtub full of ice, don’t say you weren’t warned….