Gaspin: "We're Going to Try to Rebuild NBC" - Broadcasting & Cable

Gaspin: "We're Going to Try to Rebuild NBC"

NBCU TV chairman talks with Marisa Guthrie about NBC's rookie-, drama-laden 2010-11 schedule
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Upfront

Central: Complete Coverage from B&C

NBC has picked up a hefty total of 14 new shows -- the majority of
them dramas -- for
the 2010-11 season, a swing-for-the-fences
schedule that executives hope will spring them from the fourth-place
ratings basement. (See related: Upfronts
2010: NBC Orders 14 New Shows, Keeps Thursday as Single Night of Comedy

)

It's a strategy that stands in stark contrast to a
year-ago when NBC gave the 10 p.m. hour to Jay Leno in an ultimately
failed
attempt to remake the burdensome economics of primetime television.

"We
probably went a little too far last year with trying to change the model
all at
once," NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin told B&C.

Consequently,
the network has spent at least 30% more on development for the 2010-11
season
in a back-to-basics approach that emphasis big-ticket drama at 10 p.m.

"We're
going to try to rebuild NBC," says Gaspin. "We will always look at the
model
that we're working within and make decisions accordingly. But at least
this
year we are definitely focused on rebuilding with high quality scripted
content."

Monday will
be pegged for action/adventure with Chuck
in the 8 p.m. lead-off slot followed by The
Event
and Jerry Bruckheimer's Chase.
The Biggest Loser and Parenthood will stay put on Tuesday.
J.J. Abrams Undercovers will anchor
Wednesday nights followed by Law &
Order: SVU
and latest spin-off Law
& Order: Los Angeles
(LOLA,
for short).

Such an early timeslot will be a challenge for Undercovers, a spy
thriller with a
relatively unknown cast. And while NBC executives are hopeful the show
is be
strong enough to get enough viewers to the set at 8 p.m., they're also
taking
no chances and will throw a lot of promotion behind it.

Mercy
and Trauma, which hung around longer than
some of NBC's 2009 entries, have been canceled. The ax has also fallen
on Heroes and Law & Order. But NBC primetime president
Angela Bromstad said
the network will talk with Heroes'
Tim Kring and Law & Order's Dick
Wolf about a appropriate send-offs for their respective programs.  

The network will not launch a new hour of comedy
outside of its established laugher destination of Thursday night, as was
expected. Instead, it will shift 30 Rock
to 8:30 p.m. and give the plum post-Office
9:30p.m. slot to Outsourced. Community, one of only two
returning
scripted shows from NBC's 2009-10 season, will lead-off at 8 p.m. Parks
and Recreation
will return
midseason.

30
Rock

creator and star Tina Fey will reportedly rib NBC executives about
moving her
show to an earlier time period during the network's upfront presentation
at the
New York Hilton May 17.

But Gaspin said that 30 Rock has proven itself as "a solid
performer" and besides, the
show "has been able to take advantage" of a hefty Office lead-in
for multiple seasons.

"So we had the confidence that it could move it
without losing much of its audience," he said. (Perhaps the keyword here
is
"much.")

Likewise, NBC executives are confident that Park and Recreation
can successfully
weather a hiatus.

"We've
seen that more time can actually lapse between the end of season and the
beginning of the next without damaging a show," said Gaspin. "If we're
careful
and we protect the return of Parks and Recreation, we can
continue to
build an audience."

That
strategy also allows for a steady stream of fresh comedy on Thursday, he
added.
The
network also has multiple new comedies on the bench, including Perfect
Couples
and a single-camera
comedy from Paul Reiser. And Gaspin did not rule out launching another
hour of
comedy later in the season.  

"We
felt that Thursday was the best place to launch new comedy and at some
point
later this season we may look at the possibility of opening up another
hour,"
he said.

Love
Bites
, an hour-long romantic anthology series from Sex and the
City's
Cindy Chupack, will
air Thursdays at 10 p.m. The series boasts a large cast and stitches
together
vignettes on dating, sex and marriage. NBC executives are not calling it
a
"dramedy," rather they're calling it a "one-hour comedy."

Bromstad
said she would be pleased if NBC managed "one or two breakout shows
[next
season]."

"Each
year we look at improving upon the past," she said.

Added
Gaspin, "There's a lot of measure of success in the broadest sense. I
always
look at how the industry does as a whole. And we'd like to do a little
better
than that."

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