NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt took a well-earned victory lap at the network’s opening session for the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Sunday, joking that he doesn’t know when he’ll get the chance again. Greenblatt offered a barrage of statistics about the network’s big leap this past fall from a distant fourth place to a solid second among the broadcast networks, thanks for the most part to Sunday Night Football and “The Voice.” The reality singing competition brought a 176 percent increase in viewership for Mondays for the network, which also saw gains across Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and big numbers for new shows “Revolution” and “Go On.”
Amidst all the back-patting, though, Greenblatt’s omissions spoke stronger. He did not address “Up All Night” until pressed by reporters, stating that the network knows a cast like Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett “isn’t growing on trees,” hence the decision to continue tinkering with the low-performing series rather than outright canceling it. “Up All Night” will return as a more traditional, multi-camera sitcom with a new show-runner. And Greenblatt avoided mentioning multi-camera freshman comedy “Guys with Kids,” saying only that the network believes its new shows are “still developing and improving.”
And there was no mention whatsoever of the critically acclaimed “Parks and Recreation” or the much-maligned “Community,” which returns for an abbreviated 13-episode season with new show-runners and may be on its last legs. Greenblatt did concede, though, that “Thursday was a lower priority” this fall and that the network’s former flagship comedy night is still in transition, given the impending series finales of “30 Rock” and “The Office.”
On the late-night front, Greenblatt insists talk of Jay Leno’s departure from “The Tonight Show” is premature since the host just had his contract extended. “It would be disingenuous to extend Jay and then talk about his successor,” Greenblatt said. He also explained that rival Jimmy Kimmel’s move to a half-hour earlier on ABC could prove to be an opportunity for Leno rather than a source of more competition. Greenblatt thinks “The Tonight Show” may be able to snag some viewers from the departing “Nightline,” who might not take to Kimmel.