NBC has given three of its new shows renewals for next season and scheduled a
number of new midseason shows to debut after the Winter Olympic Games, including
a new live weekday comedy series from the producers and set of Saturday Night
The news came Wednesday as NBC West Coast president Scott Sassa and NBC
Entertainment president Jeff Zucker met the television critics in Los Angeles,
where they got a handful of questions about the network's new policy on liquor
ads and plenty of Fear Factor flak.
On NBC's new policy to allow liquor ads, Sassa told critics, 'Since 1996,
there have been over 300 TV stations and cable networks, 2,000 radio stations,
newspapers, magazines and billboards that have taken liquor advertising, and we
have been approached over the years to do this. We felt the timing was right
As for rumors that several large networks are contemplating selling off their
low-rated Saturday-night primetime hours -- as in NBC's recent deal with
Discovery Communications Inc. for Saturday mornings -- Sassa bluntly said, 'It
won't be us.'
But both he and Zucker did say they are exploring a variety of different
options for the night.
Insiders said one possibility might be airing action series like syndicated
series V.I.P. and possibly some internally produced lower-budget
Sassa and Zucker also apologized for the one-day delay on Carson Daly's new
late-night talk show on NBC.
NBC and Daly reached a deal late Tuesday, and Last Call with Carson
Daly is officially off and running.
'We made a mistake, and our mistake was that we should have put our foot down
on the contract when he did test shows over the Christmas break,' Sassa said of
their dealings with MTV: Music Television personality Daly.
NBC executives also confirmed reports that the network is looking to trim
costs and to develop at least some new series for next season at license fees in
the $500,000 range -- well below the typical million-dollar average.
As for the renewals, Crossing Jordan, Law & Order: Criminal
Intent and Scrubs will all be back on NBC during the 2002-2003
Zucker said, 'It's safe to say' that no other network will be picking up
three new series for next season.
Third-year soap Passions will also be back next season, and dramas
Providence and Ed will most likely be coming back, as well, Zucker
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the third Seinfeld alum to get her own sitcom,
will debut in her new series, Watching Ellie, Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 8:30
Leap of Faith, a new comedy from Sex and the City Emmy
Award-winning writer Jenny Bicks, will get the plum post-Friends spot on
NBC's Thursday-night schedule. Leap of Faith will debut Thursday, Feb. 28
at 8:30 p.m.
And network executives said New York Live with Colin Quinn, the new
series from SNL producer Lorne Michaels, will debut after the Olympics,
too. No firm date has been set for its debut, though.
New York Live will be hosted by Quinn, a former writer and actor on
SNL, and it will feature a topical monologue, sketch comedy and guest
stars. It will also be broadcast live each week from the set of SNL in
NBC executives also said they are working closely with their counterparts at
newly acquired Spanish network Telemundo Communications Group Inc., and that
sports, news and other NBC divisions will share resources with Telemundo.
Zucker added that NBC is actually developing an English version of former
Telemundo telenovela Betty La Fea and considering it for the fall.
In May, when NBC celebrates its 75th anniversary, the network has
lined up a number of specials, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
host Jay Leno's first-ever primetime gig.
NBC is also planning an L.A. Law reunion movie, a The Cosby
Show retrospective and a clip show from classic Bob Hope