NBC UPDATE: Ben Silverman’s new regime at NBC got off to a whiz-bang start at the TV critics’ press tour with the announcement that he is, indeed, bringing The Apprentice back, despite slipping ratings, with a special celebrity edition of the show set to hit the network’s schedule midseason, according to a TV Week story.
It was Silverman’s idea, no surprise, and though Trump loved it, Apprentice producer Mark Burnett was initially reluctant. “The producer has avoiding doing celebrity editions of his key shows in the past,” wrote TV Week’s James Hibberd, “but Silverman convinced him that ‘now is the time.’”
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Translated into normal human speak, it means that Silverman pointed out that Burnett wasn’t tearing up the airwaves these days, and that unless he wanted his revenue stream diminished even more – after all, reality shows aren’t cash cows in syndication, are they Mark? – he’d agree to the cute kitties and puppies edition of The Apprentice, if that was what NBC wanted to pay for.
Working his connections, Silverman apparently put in a call to the producers of The Office – a cheap call, since he’s one of them – and requested a cast member from that hit NBC show to commit to the 13-episode mini-season and make nice with Donald Trump.
Newsday’s TV Zone blog, attending the same press conference, reported that Silverman and his co-chairman at NBC, Marc Graboff, both shouted in unison that they’d love to get Trump arch-nemesis Rosie O’Donnell on the show, and that there had been “conversations” with her about NBC projects, none of which has produced anything definite yet. (She’s asking for too much money, surmises Newsday’s Verne Gay.)
Clearly buzzing on the whole “we’ll take controversy anywhere we can get it” thing, Silverman and Graboff also revealed that ousted Grey’s Anatomy cast member Isaiah Washington will join NBC’s remake of The Bionic Woman as a character in a 5-episode story arc. No news about whether they’ve been able to persuade Washington to co-star with O’Donnell in a remake of The Odd Couple.
While we’re on the subject of TV relics, Silverman also announced that Norman Lear, the man behind All In The Family, Maude, Good Times and The Jeffersons – not to mention Archie Bunker’s Place – has been given an office at NBC produce an hour-long dramedy about a widow who returns to Wall Street and goes head-to-head with her late husband’s shark-like partner. Expect a lot of smug jokes about Republicans delivered with the subtlety of a heavy metal festival in Norway.