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Upfronts: NBC Execs Say They’re Going Back To ‘Broadcasting 101′

NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert made it clear that the company had entered the post-Jeff Zucker era with a zinger that the audience at the NBC Upfront Presentation fully understood. They applauded when he said that the company needs “a little less reinvention of the wheel and a lot more Broadcasting 101.” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt says the specific goals are to become aggressive in developing sitcoms, reinvigorate Thursday night, and hit 10:00 PM “after it was almost abandoned a year ago” when Zucker put Jay Leno in — a strategy partially designed to save money; he added that there’s no mandate to manage for margins or to script. Comcast has said that it will spend an additional $200 million this year on NBC’s prime time shows. (Catching up with Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, they said the network won’t require any more of an influx than that. “It won’t be needed,” Roberts said. Added Burke: “It’s not so much the money, it’s the shows.”) 

Greenblatt says that the network is approaching its reinvigotation as “a marathon, not a sprint.” Roberts said the “biggest change is the energy and enthusiasm,” and Burke added that the message they want to send out is “we want to hire the best people.” The company stuck to platitudes during the presentation — execs didn’t start off sharing any ratings goals. Greenblatt says, though, that NBC’s hit show The Voice will “dramatically redefine … Read More »

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NBC Orders Steven Spielberg Musical Pilot

Nellie Andreeva

New NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt is putting his stamp on the network’s development with a pilot order for a project he originally developed while at Showtime. NBC just greenlighted Smash, an ambitious one-hour musical about the mounting of a Broadway musical based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, which will be produced by DreamWorks TV and Universal Media Studios, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical. TV writer/playwright Theresa Rebeck wrote the script and is executive producing with Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of DreamWorks TV, Hairspray producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron  and Grammy and Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who will pen original songs for the show. Negotiations are underway  for Michael Mayer (American Idiot) to direct. Smash joins an expansive slate at DreamWorks TV, which includes 4 series, including the upcoming The Borgias on Showtime and Terra Nova on Fox. Musicals have been a hot genre on the broadcast networks this development season with in light of the success of Fox’s Glee, but Smash is the first such project to reach a pilot stage.

Also greenlighted to pilot at NBC under Greenblatt is the comedy spec I Hate That I Love You, from Will & Grace alumna Jhoni Marchinko and 20th Century Fox TV. It is described as a twisty single-camera romantic comedy in which a straight couple … Read More »

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Danielle Gelber Leaving Showtime

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Showtime SVP original programming Danielle Gelber will leave the pay cable network at the end of the month when her contract is up. While the timing of her exit would probably fuel ongoing speculation that Gelber, who had worked under Robert Greenblatt at Fox and Showtime, might follow him to NBC, sources indicate that she would not be going there. At Showtime, where she has been since 2002, Gelber has shepherded The L Word, Weeds and The Big C. Here is Gelber’s statement released by Showtime:

I’ve had a remarkably fantastic time during my years at Showtime. I am deeply proud to have been so intricately involved in bringing many of the network’s signature series to our air, to say nothing of the amazingly rich roster of talented people from the creative community I’ve been privileged to work with. It’s been a life and career-shaping experience for me thanks to my many valued colleagues at the network, and I’m excited and looking very forward to where this great experience will take me next.

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Final Thoughts On The New NBCU Structure

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATES NBC Universal’s New Organizational Structure Revealed

UPDATES COMCAST-NBCU: Ted Harbert And Bob Greenblatt To Run NBC, Pat Fili-Krushel Also Coming

The organizers of the Saban Free Clinic’s Annual Dinner Gala must have been scrambling today to update all the materials for the Monday event with the new title for the night’s top honoree, Robert Greenblatt, who today was named chairman of NBC Entertainment as part of the post-merger management structure of NBC Universal unveiled by the company’s incoming CEO Steve Burke.

Greenblatt, who will oversee the network and sister studio UMS, won’t be conducting any business, including meeting with his staff or talking to agents, until the merger is approved, something sources suggest may happen in mid-January. By then, the broadcast networks will be in the thick of picking up drama pilots, so Greenblatt would have to jump right in. He is expected to begin familiarizing himself with NBC’s development right away and will probably read pilot scripts as they come in to be able to start making greenlight decisions on Day 1. Drama has been a particularly vulnerable area for NBC with no new series introduced in the past couple of years lasting more than a season and a weak freshman drama class this fall. That makes the future of NBC’s head of drama Laura Lancaster uncertain. Greenblatt is still a ways away from making any personnel changes, but after he officially starts, he is expected to make some. In today’s memo, there was good news for 2 NBC veterans, Marc Graboff, chairman of NBC Entertainment and UMS, and Angela Bromstad, president of primetime entertainment. While the announcement didn’t mention their titles, leaving the door open to them changing, they were mentioned by name as reporting to Greenblatt in the new chain of command. That means that both are factoring into new Burke’s immediate plans for NBC. From then on, it will be up to Greenblatt. Read More »

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