Katherine Heigl’s appearance at Summer TV Press Tour 2014, to discuss her return to series TV, was as dramatic as you’d expect. The hall was packed with media to hear Heigl talk about her new NBC series State of Affairs, in which she plays a CIA analyst who presents the U.S. President’s daily briefing on security issues facing the country. Heigl, you’ll remember, is the actress who became a major star on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, then left that series to focus on her film career — but only after alienating some on Grey’s for, among other incidents, telling the media she had not submitted herself for Emmy consideration one season because she did not think she had been given good enough material.
Then there was that Vanity Fair interview she gave after filming feature comedy Knocked Up, from writer/director Judd Apatow, starring opposite Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Leslie Mann, in which Heigl said she enjoyed the work, but not so much the film, because it was “a little sexist,” “paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.” For those comments, the media described her as an “ungrateful traitor,” among other yeasty comments.
Before Heigl’s Q&A, a TV critic asked NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke why Katherine’s mother, “stage mom” Nancy Heigl, was scheduled for that Q&A and listed as one of State of Affairs’ executive producers. Salke explained that Katherine came with … Read More »
The TV Academy probably should take another look at the categories for its Primetime Emmy Awards, academy chairman/CEO Bruce Rosenblum told TV critics this morning at the TCAs summer press tour after TV critics began to flog him and the academy for not doing a better job “policing” which categories series and actors are competing.
TV critics nicked him for a number of this year’s nominees — one TV critic, for instance, noted, “it’s nice Treme got nominated, but it’s in the miniseries category and it’s been on the air about five years.” Another expressed disbelief the academy would let Shameless submit itself for consideration as a comedy series for a season that included a storyline “in which a baby overdoses on cocaine.” And harsh words were said about “certain” actors who’d submitted themselves as guest stars “even though they have regular series contracts.” Plenty more where that came from.
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It’s become a billion-dollar fundraising fixture on British TV, but now NBC says it will collaborate with Comic Relief U.K. and Funny Or Die to bring Richard Curtis‘ Red Nose Day charity special to the United States. Curtis will serve as an executive producer for the NBC telecast, which will feature sketch comedy, standup, music and more from a variety of celebrities. Online humor site Funny or Die will create original content for the three-hour live show, which is set for next May and will be performed in front of a live audience.
“I am incredibly proud that NBCUniversal is broadcasting Red Nose Day,” Paul Telegdy, NBC’s President, Alternative and Late Night Programing, said in a release. “Once in a while in our jobs, we get to do things that can change lives and entertain at the same time.”
Other executive producers will be Hamish Hamilton and Ian Stewart of Done + Dusted Productions, which will produce. Hamilton will also direct. Red Nose Day in the U.K. has been going for a quarter century now, and has become one of the highest-rated Friday night shows on the BBC while raising more than $1 billion in donations. The NBC event will raise money for what the network called “established” charities working in both the U.S. and elsewhere around the world. Those charities and the show’s performers will be announced later.
NBC is in “an active creative discussion” for more of The Maya Rudolph Show, either as a weekly series or a series of specials, NBC’s president of alternative Paul Telegdy said during the NBC executive session. The variety show, starring the Saturday Night Live alumna and produced by SNL boss Lorne Michaels, started as a special that aired on May 20 behind The Voice. That special is looked at as an “imperfect first episode,” Telegdy said.
A discussion is ongoing about the show’s future structure and format, including the quotient of music performances versus sketch comedies. “It is a show we were really proud of,” Telegdy said. “On balance, we really enjoyed the experience. Added NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, “We were very encouraged by the ratings.” In a Q&A with Deadline last month, Michaels was optimistic about the show’s future.
Also today, Telegdy was asked about the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice, which has been in the can for awhile but has not been scheduled yet. No update on a premiere date yet, Telegdy said. Celebrity Apprentice‘s most recent season aired in the spring of 2013. Greenblatt noted that the network has taken long hiatuses with other long-running reality series, like The Biggest Loser. “You look at what your needs are,” he said.
At its executive panel, NBC revealed more details about its Bill Cosby multi-camera comedy project, which was put in development in January. It will be created by Mike Sikowitz and Mike O’Malley and produced by Sony TV, where Sikowitz is under an overall deal, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said. Sikowitz is also tied as a showrunner to the Sony TV-produced new CBS comedy The McCarthys, so I had heard that O’Malley would be writing with Sikowitz supervising. Actor O’Malley, who is eyed for one of the show’s leads, had been active on the writing side, starting with a staff writing job on Shameless, and has written a couple of pilots. As for the premise, it is a multi-generational family show, Salke said.
“Bill plays the patriarch of the family, dispensing his classic wisdom on relationships and parenthood, with three daughters, husbands and grandchildren,” Salke said “It’s a classic big extended family sitcom.” The hope is for O’Malley to play one of the husbands, she added. The show is eyed for next summer or fall 2015.
The Bill Cosby project is part of NBC’s commitment to the multi-camera genre, Salke said. Both Salke and NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt spoke of the difficulty getting multi-camera comedies on the air that stick, having just unsuccessfully tried with… Read More »
Christopher Walken has been cast as Captain Hook in NBC’s live broadcast of Peter Pan. “He might be the first tap-dancing Hook you’ve ever seen,” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told TV critics this morning at Summer TV Press Tour 2014.
Walken, who is currently seen dancing in Clint Eastwood’s screen version of Broadway hit Jersey Boys, began on the Broadway stage in musicals, and has appeared in a number of film musicals, including Hairspray, and the Steve Martin film Pennies From Heaven. He’s well known to NBC’s audience, what with his having hosted Saturday Night Live seven times — where he sometimes performed song-and-dance numbers. Walken won the Academy Award for his role in the Oscar-winning The Deer Hunter, and is also known for his performances in such films as Sleepy Hollow, Pulp Fiction, Wayne’s World, True Romance and Annie Hall. He did his own choreography for the memorable Fatboy Slim video Weapon of Choice, for which he won the MTV Video Music Award for best choreography.
NBC has yet to say who’s been cast in the lead role of Peter Pan, though Greenblatt admitted that they’d approached Kristen Bell who was not available. Last January, following the successful live staging of The Sound Of Music, NBC announced its followup musical — James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which will be broadcast Dec. 4. The Sound Of Music‘s exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will return in that role … Read More »
Kicking off NBC’s TCA presentation, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the renewal of summer reality series America’s Got Talent, American Ninja Warrior and Last Comic Standing. The pickups join the recent renewal of medical drama Night Shift, which turned from a summer burnoff to a breakout, tying CBS’ Extant as the highest-rated new series debut this off-season.
Greenblatt underscored NBC’s ratings success during the season, reminding everyone that the network finished 2013-14 as No.1, and did so again for the summer. NBC has won every week other than the two that ABC had with the NBA Finals, which Greenblatt in a lapse called “the NBC finals.” Last Comic Standing returned for an eighth cycle this summer after a four-year break, the second time the show has been revived. AGT is in its ninth season, averaging a 3.1/10 in adults 18-49 and 12.4 million viewers. Last Comic Standing is averaging a 1.7/6 in 18-49 and 5.1 million viewers. American Ninja Warrior, which is shared with corporate sibling Esquire, is delivering a 1.8/6 in 18-49 and 5.3 million viewers.
Veteran TV producer Ed Bernero, whose credits include CBS’ Criminal Minds and its spinoff Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior as well as last summer’s Crossing Lines for NBC, has been tapped as showrunner for NBC’s midseason spy drama State Of Affairs. We hear the deal closed a couple weeks ago and Bernero will be a part of the show’s panel during NBC’s TCA press tour day Sunday.
State of Affairs premieres November 17 in a plum post-The Voice slot Mondays at 10 PM, taking over after The Blacklist completes its first-half run. The Katherine Heigl-starring drama has been in need of a showrunner since Alexi Hawley, who wrote the original script, departed, and Joe Carnahan, who got high marks for rewriting and directing the pilot, is busy with The Blacklist. Carnahan serves as executive producer with Katherine Heigl, Nancy Heigl, Robert Simonds, Sophie Watts, Henry Crumpton, Rodney Faraon and Julia Franz. Universal TV produces with Bob Simonds Co. and Abishag Prods. Read More »
After this morning’s announcement of the Emmy nominations, Don Mischer, the veteran (and much awarded himself) executive producer of this year’s 66th annual Emmy Awards jokingly suggested to me that maybe there should be an awards show that only honors other award shows! God help us. We almost have that now. At the Emmys, the only awards show not eligible to win one of the golden winged statuettes is Emmy herself.
And what’s significant awards-show wise in this year’s lineup is how far the Golden Globes, of all shows, have come into industry respectability. Not only did it grab an Outstanding Special Class Program nomination against the Tonys and the Oscars this morning, but it also landed a nod for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special. It will compete there again with the Tonys there but – OUCH – not perennial writing nominee Academy Awards; Ellen DeGeneres and her crew of writers who so memorably sent out for pizza and took selfies this year were snubbed this time out.
Of course the Globes have really smartened up in the writing department in the past couple of years with strong SNL influence and participation from hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as well as Seth Meyers among other members of the Lorne Michaels wolf pack. Meyers may not have been nominated for his own new NBC late-night talk show, but this year’s Emmy host has a chance to win one for his Globes writing gig, and that category WILL be presented this year on the primetime broadcast. Still in sheer numbers of nominations today, The Oscars lead the Tonys 8-7, with the Globes grabbing the aforementioned two. Impressively, Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who will be returning for a third consecutive stint on next year’s show, are competing directly against themselves in the Special Class category with their NBC musical special The Sound Of Music Live! And they also nabbed a nomination for their Lifetime miniseries, Bonnie And Clyde. Big day for that busy pair, who got Emmy love for all of their TV projects last season, even if critical reaction was mixed. Who’s laughing now? Read More »
Once again, HBO led all networks in Emmy nominations this year, and it wasn’t even close. Here’s a look at HBO’s noms haul in the past decade, followed by a breakdown in who got what this year.
NOMINATIONS BY NETWORK
HBO – 99
CBS – 47
NBC – 46
FX Networks – 45
ABC – 37
PBS – 34
Netflix – 31
AMC – 26
Showtime – 24
Comedy Central – 21
Lifetime – 17
National Geographic Channel – 15
Starz – 11
Discovery Channel – 10 Read More »
NBC has ordered a second season of summer series The Night Shift, which is in the back half of its eight-episode first season. The second-season order is for a bulked up 14 episodes; no scheduling was announced. The Night Shift is the No. 1 new scripted series on broadcast TV so far this summer in the demo and total viewers, with a 1.7 rating and 7.9 million viewers. It’s tied for 12th place among broadcast primetime shows on in the demo and ranks No. 4 for the summer among broadcast networks in overall audience.
Originally ordered as a midseason show in spring 2013, the series got pushed to this summer. Back in April, The Night Shift exec producer Jeff Judah insisted he loved the idea of his big ensemble medical drama running on the broadcast network in the summer. “There are not as many shows on the networks,” he told reporters at NBC Press Day. “It may not get lost as much, maybe get a chance to be seen by more people — we love it.”
The Night Shift, about the men and women who work graveyard at San Antonio Memorial, got its series order as part of a four-show deal between NBC and Sony TV in May 2013 that included pickups of The Blacklist (with guaranteed Monday 10 PM slot), Welcome To The Family and a renewal of Community. The Night Shift pilot tested very well, with Irish actor Eoin Macken in the lead as adrenaline junkie T.C. Callahan who, after a grueling tour of duty in the Middle East, now works in the ER. Creators Gabe Sachs and Judah executive produce with Pierre Morel. Read More »
Barbara Walters’ 20/20 interview with Elliot Rodger’s father was the cornerstone of Friday night’s scant original programming, drawing 6.2 million total viewers and rallying ABC in the evening’s win among all broadcast networks to 5.1M total viewers besting CBS (4.9M), NBC (3.3M), Fox (2.05M) and CW (898K). Though 20/20 was the number two show among total viewers, notching just behind CBS’s repeat of Blue Bloods (6.3M) –the top show of the night — it managed to be the number one in both adults 18-49 (1.3/5) and 25-54 (1.7/6).
Nonetheless, among Walters’ 20/20 greatest hits in the ratings annals, the Peter Rodger interview ranks behind her May 2nd interview with Donald Sterling girlfriend V. Stiviano which drew 7.14 million and a 1.7 rating in Adults 18-49. The most watched Barbara Walters interview on 20/20 ever was her March 3, 1999, interview with Monica Lewinsky. That edition of 20/20 was watched by an estimated 70 million viewers — a record for a news program.
20/20 saw double digit week-to-week gains across the board in total viewers (+24%), A18-49 (+18%) and A25-54 (+13%). The news show more than doubled NBC’s audience at 10 P.M. for its original air of Crossbones in total viewers (2.3M) and more than tripled in A18-49 (0.4/2). For the 2013-14 season 20/20 registered 6.3 million total viewers in live + same day averages, with 1.5/5 in A18-49 and 2.1/6 in A25-54.
With mostly repeats rounding out most of the night, NBC’s news special A Leap of Faith: A Meredith Vieira Special was another fresh telecast of the night drawing 3.8M viewers from 8-10 … Read More »
UPDATE, 5:35 PM: NBCUniversal released the following statement to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, reiterating it did not turn down an Obvious Child ad for broadcast but acknowledging it did ask the media buyer to remove the word in a digital ad, which NBCU says was a mistake. Planned Parenthood, which by then had collected about 13,000 signatures on its petition telling NBC to knock off the rannygazoo, declared it a major victory, calling it “a huge step forward in the work towards more honesty about women and abortion in TV and movies.” Here is NBC’s most recent statement:
“NBCUniversal has no policy against accepting ads that include the word “abortion.” Several ad proposals for Obvious Child were submitted to our television broadcast standards group for review, and, consistent with NBCUniversal policy and practice, no direction was given to remove references to the word “abortion.” Ultimately, no final ad was submitted or purchased for television broadcast.
“Separately, an online ad was submitted for digital placement and feedback was mistakenly given to remove the word “abortion.” That is not company policy and we are currently reviewing our ad standards processes to ensure they are consistent across all platforms moving forward.
“Our digital platforms will accept the ad as it was originally submitted.”
PREVIOUS: Planned Parenthood says it has 11,000 signatures on a petition chastising NBC for what the health-care group says are reports that the network refused to run an ad for the indie film Obvious Child because it includes the word “abortion.” Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, the movie stars Jenny Slate as a comedian who gets dumped, fired and pregnant just in time for the most chaotic Valentine’s Day of her life, and decides to terminate her pregnancy. Read More »
NBC Upfront is wrapping with about $2.52 billion in primetime and late-night advertising commitments. That’s about a 15% increase compared to last year’s 2.25 billion. Across all its properties — broadcast, cable and digital — NBCUniversal brought about $6 billion this upfront – up from $5.4 billion last year. At NBCU, broadcast moves as one with cable and digital upfront sales; other networks handle the annual exercise differently. NBCU is “done – its whole portfolio,” explained one exec with knowledge of the situation.
The NBC broadcast network won the recently wrapped TV season in the demo for the first time in a decade with a 13% ratings spike — the biggest year-to-year gain for any Big 4 network in nine years. Even without its 18 nights of Sochi Olympics coverage, NBC boasted the season’s biggest demo audience, topping Super Bowl-boosted Fox. NBC’s gains blanketed the entire week, including double-digit year-to-year demo gains on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Its most talked about improvement: the 39% gain at 10 PM Mondays with The Blacklist originals – Blacklist being the season’s No. 1 new series and No. 2 drama, and NBC’s Monday being the top-rated regular schedule on any broadcast network in the demo, with an average 4.3 rating for regular programming. Read More »
NBC has in the works Wasteland, an hourlong limited series executive produced by Bob Cooper of Landscape Entertainment and Gina Matthews of Little Engine. Feature scribe Mick Davis, who penned the pilot and executive produced the CBS version of British sci-fi drama Eleventh Hour, is staying in the genre space with Wasteland. The supernatural crime-drama, produced by Sony TV, follows a hardened US Marshal, who in the wake of a massive prison break, is charged with hunting down fugitives with supernatural powers, while unlocking the mystery of his past. The project was originally set up as a drama series at TNT three years ago with Davis writing and Cooper and J.J. Jamieson executive producing through FremantleMedia North America. Davis, Cooper and Jamieson are back for the NBC limited series version, joined by Matthews and Sony. NBC has another miniseries in the works about people with supernatural powers, Heroes Reborn, a reboot of the 2006 superhero series, which is now casting and recently tapped Heroes alum Jack Coleman to reprise his role.
Friday Night Lights alum Grey Damon is returning to NBC to co-star opposite David Duchovny in drama series Aquarius, and Emma Dumont (Salvation, Bunheads) has joined the cast as a series regular. Written by John McNamara and produced by ITV Studios America and Marty Adelstein Prods, the gritty 1960s cop drama focuses on a cop (Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. The project, envisioned as an event series, received a 13-episode straight-to-series order. Damon, repped by Paradigm and Toni Benson, will play Duchovny’s partner. Dumont, repped by Gersh and Untitled Entertainment, will play Emma Karn, the daughter of Grace Karn and her influential husband Ken.
It’s a big change for Universal Partnerships & Licensing President Stephanie Sperber: A year after she extended her contract into 2016, the company said today that her turf will expand to include merchandise deals for NBC and Sprout properties. The change, giving her titles such as The Biggest Loser and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, is designed to “bring scale and impact with licensees and retailers to benefit all of our film and TV properties,” Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell says. The company credits Sperber for leading licensed merchandise efforts for Universal’s Despicable Me 2 among other things. UP&L is particularly eager to make deals for Sprout. NBCUniversal took full control of the children’s network last year when it bought out partners including PBS. It hopes to make a splash in the licensing world as it introduces original programs and, as the company put it, “expands the reach of its beloved brand icon, Chica.” Other priorities include programs to promote Universal’s planned 2015 tent poles led by Pitch Perfect 2, Fast & Furious 7, Jurassic World and Minions. Hasbro is already on board to handle Jurrasic World toys, and Thinkaway Toys will be global master toy licensee for Minions.
Following last year’s competition series Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls, NBC has slated a new unscripted show starring the adventurer and survivalist. The network has ordered six episodes of the hourlong alternative series Running Wild With Bear Grylls, in which Grylls takes celebrities into the remote locations in the U.S. and around the world for a 48-hour journey that will feature such stunts as skydiving into the Catskill Mountains, rappelling down the cliffs of Utah and battling torrential wind and rain in Scotland. It will premiere July 28 and air in the Monday 8 PM slot. The celebrities lined up for the show, going one-on-one with Grylls, include actor Zac Efron, actor-director Ben Stiller, actor Channing Tatum, NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, actor Tom Arnold, and MSNBC and Today anchor Tamron Hall. Running Wild is produced by Electus and Bear Grylls Ventures, which were also behind Get Out Alive.
Electus used a similar strategy with Dwayne Johnson, who hosted a competition reality series, The Hero, for TNT last year, before returning to the cable network this year with a new docu-style unscripted show featuring close-ended episodes, Wake Up Call. Grylls will serve as executive producer along with Ben Silverman, Chris Grant, Corie Henson, Laura Caraccioli, Doug McCallie and Viki Cacciatore.
The Television Academy has pulled from the NBC family for presenters for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations. Carson Daly (The Voice) and Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project) have been tapped to announce the noms from the Television Academy’s Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood on July 10, beginning at 5:40 AM PT. The noms also will be streamed live on Emmys.com. Seth Meyers hosts the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, which airs live Monday, August 25th (8 PM ET/5 PM PT) on NBC from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Don Mischer is exec producer.