NBC was looking to tickle advertisers' funny bones at its development presentation Monday evening.
The network especially emphasized that beefing up its comedy production was a priority and "our biggest challenge," said Jeffrey Zucker, NBC's new entertainment chief. One interesting project highlighted at the session, which took place on the set of The West Wing, was an untitled series starring "The Thong Song" rapper Sisqo and Bob Newhart.
"This is the odd couple of the moment," Zucker insisted, who added "this was a calculated risk, but one we think audiences are ready for."
Other possible sitcom stars include Drew Carey, chef Emeril, Hank Azaria and for mid-season Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Zucker spoke about NBC's intent to bring a drama block to Sunday night, to replace its mini-series trend of the past. Possibilities include U.C., an undercover police drama, that Zucker is "most excited about" and Earth Angels based on the writings by Anne Rice. There's also Dick Wolf's next Law & Order installment Criminal Intent, which takes a look at crimes from the criminal's point of view.
Still, NBC is not giving up on mini-series and specials entirely - the network has scheduled for May a five-hour Law & Order mini, that will kick off on a Sunday as a two-hour movie, leading into one-hour installments Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. At Monday's session, Wolf explained it would explore terrorism in New York, and would bring in regulars from all three Law & Order series, including past cast members. - Susanne Ault
In more pitches to advertisers, Zucker also hyped Britian-based The Weakest Link, NBC's first foray into reality starring Anne Robinson.