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NBC’s Robert Greenblatt On ‘The Sound Of Music’s Profitability & Follow-up Plans, Midseason Expectations & Thursday Woes

By | Friday December 13, 2013 @ 8:38pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

TV-The Sound of Music.JPEG-07c6fThe surprising success of The Sound Of Music helped NBC hit a milestone last week, winning six of the seven nights in adults 18-49 for the first time in 11 years in-season with no help from Winter Olympics. A follow-up live musical for next year’s holiday season with Sound Of Music executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron is already in the works, with the title choices narrowed down to three, according to NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt. Rights issues are currently being sorted out, with the network and the producers expected to make their selection after the first of the year. Not surprisingly, stagings and other live entertainment events are all the rage right now, with everyone looking to jump in. But don’t expect those to start popping up often. “I’d love to do more but it is not that easy to put them together,” Greenblatt said. They’re also expensive; The Sound Of Music staging reportedly cost just under $10 million. But when they hit it big, it does pay off.

Related: Craig Zadan & Neil Meron On “Historic” ‘Sound Of Music’

bobgreenblattThe Sounds Of Music will be profitable with modest return from the DVD,” which is about to be released, Greenblatt said. Because the ratings blew out expectations — NBC had been projecting internally mid-1 demo rating, with 2 considered overly optimistic, and instead, the musical drew a 4.6 in Live+Same Day — “the advertising revenue alone was enough to push the show to where we wanted it to be (financially),” Greenblatt said. The Sound of Music is getting an encore tomorrow night. Also, “we own it, and if we run it once a year for the next few years, even at a modest rating as an annual special it adds up to a nice little business,” he said. Still, “we have to do these specials more efficiently,” Greenblatt admitted, noting that the budget for the next one likely would not be as big because it won’t need the R&D costs associated with doing such a live musical production for the first time in 60 years. Also helping with containing the cost on the marketing side — NBC parent NBCUniversal. Greenblatt stressed that NBC spent “very little or no money on off-air promotion” for The Sound of Music, instead of relying on promotion across all divisions of NBCU as part of the company’s so-called “symphony” synergy initiative.

Related: NBC’s ‘The Sound Of Music’ Celebrates Live TV, Glitches And All

BlacklistOct28For a second year in a row, NBC is heading into the new year as the ratings leader year after a strong fall, fueled by Sunday Night Football and The Voice, with some help from new shows (Revolution last year, The Blacklist this fall). Last December, Greenblatt was careful about managing expectations, warning that the network won’t sustain the ratings momentum in January. That was an understatement as the wheels really came off in early 2013. Greenblatt is far more optimistic this time around, and that’s not only because NBC has the Winter Olympics coming up in February. “I think we’re in better shape than before,” he said, pointing to The Blacklist, which has held up better than Revolution did last fall; Chicago Fire, which has grown in Season 2 with help from The Voice; and Grimm, which is still solid.

Related: NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ Renewed For Second Season
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Jay Leno Extended NBC Contract To 2014 After ‘Tonight Show’ Budget Slashed 20%

By | Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 10:00pm PDT

NBC is finally confirming publicly that Jay Leno took a 50% pay cut  — or $15 million on his $30 million salary. That helped NBC slash the Tonight Show‘s $100M budget by about 20%. Deadline scooped first news of Leno’s pay cut to prevent more than 20 staff layoffs on the show. Now NBC’s entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt confirms that number to the Wall Street Journal. At the same time, Leno extended his contract for another 2 years to May 2014. So much for Leno taking swipes at Comcast/NBCU over the layoffs. Greenblatt told WSJ there’s no date yet for Leno to leave. ”That’s a conversation we’ll have as we look down the road. I’m sure there will be a day when these guys — Letterman and Leno — wake up and say, ‘It’s time for us to exit gracefully.’”

Related: ‘Tonight Show’ Lays Off 20; Leno Takes Pay Cut To Save Jobs

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Showtime Names New Marketing Co-Heads As Len Fogge Nears Move To NBC

By | Thursday August 4, 2011 @ 2:24pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

In anticipation of Showtime Network’s head of marketing Len Fogge re-joining former Showtime Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt at NBC, the pay cable network has restructured its marketing team, elevating Frank Pintauro and Donald Buckley to EVP and co-heads of the department. Fogge, EVP creative, marketing, research & digital media, a close associate of Greenblatt, had long been rumored to take the reins of the NBC marketing department after Greenblatt is allowed to hire CBS/Showtime employees. The moratorium was recently lifted, leading to the recent hires of Showtime’s Richard Licata as EVP communications and CBS TV Studios’ Bela Bajaria as EVP for UMS. Read More »

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NBC Picks Up David E. Kelley’s ‘Wonder Woman’, Michael Patrick King’s Drama

Nellie Andreeva

Wonder Woman will fly this pilot season after all. New NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt capped a day of high-profile pilot pickups with a surprise order to David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman reboot. Additionally, he formally greenlighted another hourlong project from an A-list showrunner, Michael Patrick King’s Mann’s World. Both shows hail from Warner Bros. TV. Meanwhile, the commitment to the J.J. Abrams/WBTV-produced drama Odd Jobs starring Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn, whose script came in very late, is being rolled to next season when it will be applied to the same or new Bad Robot project. And Greenblatt has passed on the Josh Schwartz/WBTV supernatural drama Ghost Angeles starring Rachel Bilson.

WBTV took Kelley’s Wonder Woman spec out to the networks in the first week of January. At the time, NBC was the most interested but, with Greenblatt still on the sidelines, the network couldn’t commit to the type of license fee that the studio was seeking in order to do the show Kelley had envisioned, and WBTV decided to shelve the project. With Greenblatt now firmly taking the reins and Kelley just delivering one of the most promising new series for NBC this season, Harry’s Law, NBC stepped up to greenlight Wonder Woman. The project is described as a reinvention of the iconic D.C. comic in which Wonder Woman — aka Diana Prince — is a vigilante crime fighter in … Read More »

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BREAKING: Angela Bromstad To Leave NBC

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: In the first executive fallout from the pending post-merger restructuring at NBC, Angela Bromstad, primetime entertainment president for the network and sister studio UMS, will be leaving. She told her staff about her departure this afternoon. There had been rumblings that Bromstad may not be part of the new NBC programming team under new entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt after the Comcast/NBC Universal merger is completed next week, but Comcast’s November announcement of NBCU’s post-merger executive structure made a point of listing her as staying on. (There was a potential scenario, in which Bromstad would take over her old job of running UMS should Greenblatt decide to give it more autonomy.) If she hadn’t left on her own, Bromstad would have probably been pushed out within the next week or so, sources said. Greenblatt had reportedly been telling people that Bromstad “will be gone within 48 hours” of him starting at NBC. The latter is expected to finally happen next week when the Comcast-NBCU merger is approved. And in another sign that she was probably not going to factor into NBC’s future executive plans, Bromstad didn’t hold a Q&A session at TCA last week. This is the second time Bromstad leaves a top NBC post after a new chairman is brought in. In 2007, she was pushed out as president of UMS when Ben Silverman joined the network and moved to London to run NBCU’s … Read More »

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TCA: No NBC Executive Session

Nellie Andreeva

With the end date for the Comcast-NBC Universal merger still uncertain, NBC has opted to forgo an executive session at its portion of TV Critics Assn.’s winter press tour. With only a week left before the NBCU day of TCA next Thursday, the company finally released its schedule this morning, and it doesn’t feature a panel with executives, a long-standing TCA tradition. NBC’s new top programmer, Robert Greenblatt, is still expected to make an appearance next Thursday though a low-key and informal one as a spectator as his formal appointment as chairman of NBC Entertainment will likely not happen by then. The other new NBC chairman, Ted Harbert, made a TCA appearance last night at Comcast Entertainment Group’s reception.

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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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TCA: Early Launch For 2 NBC Series; NBC Brass Talk ‘Office’, Robert Greenblatt, Piers Morgan

Nellie Andreeva

At the top of NBC’s executive session, NBC Uni TV Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin announced that a couple of series will premiere early behind the final episodes of America’s Got Talent. The second season of Parenthood will launch on Sept. 14, after the second-to-last episode of Talent. New Friday drama Outlaw will get a sneak preview after the Wednesday finale of Talent.

Additionally, primetime entertainment president Angela Bromstad said the network has extended its production deal with Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44, which will now take over the NBC pilot for Prime Suspect, which the network plans to shoot off-cycle. Alexandra Cunningham (Desperate Housewives) is now writing the script for the adaptation of the iconic British series, which will be a 2-hour pilot. (Hank Steinberg was originally tapped as writer last development season) NBC also announced a development deal with Gladiator producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes.

Another piece of news, Rob Lowe will now be a regular on Parks & Recreation. And 30 Rock will do a live episode on Oct. 14, going back to the SNL roots of creator/star Tina Fey and frequents SNL host Alec Baldwin.

Gaspin, whose last TCA appearance came in the midst of the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno debacle in January, opened the NBC executive session by saying: “I’m happy to be at TCA under different circumstances than last time. I’d like to thank ABC for creating the headlines this time.”

Asked whether he or NBC Uni … Read More »

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Francie Calfo Named Imagine TV President

Nellie Andreeva

FrancieCalfoVeteran TV executive/producer Francie Calfo is joining Imagine TV as president after more than 20 years at ABC. Calfo will replace David Nevins who is leaving to become entertainment president at Showtime, replacing Robert Greenblatt. Calfo’s deal with 20th TV where Imagine TV is based came after a couple of weeks of negotiations, mostly over financial terms.

Calfo most recently served as an ABC Studios-based producer, executive producing several pilots and one series, this summer’s struggling dramedy Scoundrels. Before that she was EVP at ABC, serving as entertainment president Stephen McPherson’s No.2. She segued into that job after spending a year as a producer, partnered with Stu Bloomberg when the two executive produced the short-lived ABC drama series Life As We Know It.

Calfo was previously an executive at ABC Studios’ predecessor Touchstone TV where she helped develop Alias and CSI under then-boss McPherson. Calfo first joined Disney’s TV team in 1989, in Buena Vista’s TV research department, eventually working her way into programming at Touchstone.

Calfo is the second ABC Studios-based producer to land a president-level job at a 20th TV-based company this week. On Tuesday, Bert Salke was named president of 20th TV’s cable/unscripted division Fox21.

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Greenblatt’s Future Plans: ‘Rebuilding’ A TV Network Or Film Gig Now On His Wish List

Nellie Andreeva

Greenblatt_RobertWith his big decision to leave Showtime behind him, the network’s entertainment president for the past 7 years Robert Greenblatt sounded relaxed in a phone interview today, hours after the network officially announced David Nevins as his successor. “I had been wrestling with [the issue] for the last couple of months until I came to the decision that it was the time to move on,” he said. And no, the decision was not prompted by a new job offer, supposedly from Comcast at post-merger NBC. “I don’t have any specific plans, I’m not in negotiations on anything, and I don’t have anything lined up,” he said.

Greenblatt acknowledged that he, too, has heard the rumors about him possibly going to NBC but stressed that they are just that — rumors. He maintains he has not talked to anyone at the broadcast network or its future parent Comcast about a job at post-merger NBC and that NBC has already put in place a large new primetime slate in an effort to turn its fortunes around. As for ABC, another broadcast network that has suffered a ratings downslide, prompting speculations about potential executive changes, Greenblatt said that he received a “generous” email from his long-time friend, ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson, who invited him to discuss opportunities there.

Greenblatt is not taking an extended time off, again supposedly a 5 to 6 month vacation as some have speculated. After signing off from Showtime at end of July, he … Read More »

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Matt Blank and David Nevins Discuss The Top Executive Change At Showtime

Nellie Andreeva

Shortly after Showtime officially announced today that David Nevins will be the network’s new entertainment president, succeeding Robert Greenblatt, Showtime Networks’ chairman and CEO Matt Blank and Nevins got on the phone to discuss the change at the helm of the pay cable network. Blank confirmed that no one at the company was particularly surprised by Greenblatt’s decision as he had been discussing for months the possibility of leaving at the end of his current contract, but the resolution did come down pretty quickly. “Over the past couple of weeks it became more clear that Bob’s decision was more imminent, and we were able to commence a search (for his replacement), Blank said.  He wouldn’t discuss if he interviewed other candidates for the job, noting only that “David was the first choice.” Blank said that he didn’t know Nevins personally before he approached him but quickly discovered that “David and I have a pretty easy shorthand in terms of the type of shows he likes and admires.” According to Blank, some of the series Nevins shepherded at Imagine, including Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights, “would’ve been great on Showtime.”

Nevins said the call from Showtime was “a little bit out of the blue.” “I loved being a network executive when I did that job but I wasn’t looking to leave producing. However, that 7-8 years itch does come along (Nevins had been at Imagine since 2002). And I feel like this may be the best executive job in television right now.” Nevins’ … Read More »

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It’s Official: ImagineTV’s David Nevins To Succeed Robert Greenblatt At Showtime

Nellie Andreeva

David_NevinsNEW YORK – (June 28, 2010) – David Nevins, an Emmy Award-winning producer and veteran network programming executive, has been named President of Entertainment at Showtime Networks Inc., it was announced today by Matthew C. Blank, Chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks Inc., to whom he will report.   Mr. Nevins will succeed Robert Greenblatt, who announced he will leave the network after completing his current contract in July. Nevins, who has served as President of Imagine Television since 2002, will be responsible for developing, acquiring and supervising all aspects of programming for all of the Showtime Networks channels.  He will be based in Los Angeles and begin his new position later this summer.

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DOUBLE SHOCKER! Imagine’s David Nevins Replacing Robert Greenblatt At Showtime

By | Thursday June 24, 2010 @ 6:39pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

showtime_logoI broke the news today that David Nevins suddenly is leaving Imagine TV after serving as president for 8 years because he couldn’t reach a contract with 20th TV and that he lined up a new job. He’s heading to Showtime as the new entertainment president, replacing Robert Greenblatt, who will be leaving. “He wants other mountains to climb. A great exec we tried to keep,’ a CBS Inc exec explained tonight.

GreenblattThe fact that Greenblatt’s contract is up this summer has triggered a flurry of speculation for months how after 7 years he might pursue a new job, possibly at a broadcast network, maybe even with post-merger NBC. Under him, Showtime has grown into a formidable scripted series player through a slew of successful shows such as The Tudors, Dexter, Weeds, Nurse Jackie and the United States Of Tara. The parting of the ways between Greenblatt and Showtime is said to be amicable, and Greenblatt is expected to stay on through the end of his contract next month. He is known for switching careers and not staying in one job for too long. He left his post at Fox as EVP to launch Greenblatt Janollari Studio, then left the successful production company to run Showtime. The length of his stay at Showtime is similar to his stints at Fox (8 years) and Greenblatt Janollari Studios (6 years).

As for Nevins, I hear the negotiations with Showtime happened quickly within the … Read More »

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