NBC Chief Robert Greenblatt Explains His New Fall Schedule
TV Guide Magazine: You resisted temptation to rush The Voice back for fall, but surprised us by turning The Sing-Off into a weekly series. How did that come about?
Robert Greenblatt: The whole goal here is the long-term rebuilding of this network, as opposed to just taking the assets and using them up as quickly as we can. The Voice is a real significant, long-term asset. It's not concluding until the end of June at this point. [For next season] we're going to take it from its current 10-week format and expand it, and you don't just do that with a magic wand. It takes real thought. We just thought, let's not blow it. Let's take this thing and do it right.
That led us to look at Monday for fall, and we have this incredible asset with America's Got Talent, a huge hit for us, which will be concluding mid-September. So we've got America's Got Talent on the front end and the The Voice in January, let's put another strong talent competition show in there. And The Sing-Off was this little gem gestating in December, and it saw growth last year despite no promotion and no marketing. It was this little thing that came out of the blue, and we thought, let's take that and turn it into a franchise that would be really strong for us. I love the show, there's no reason this can't become a real weekly franchise.
TV Guide Magazine: You're holding back some heavy hitters for midseason, including Smash, which is one of your key passion projects. Why the wait?
Greenblatt: We're looking for the exact right time to launch a show that I think can become a hit. And the best thing was to pair Smash with The Voice. Somebody asked me, "Why are you not launching all of your hit shows in the fall?" Well, most networks that try to do that wind up failing. And we just thought it was the best thing to do in looking at the long-term growth of this network.
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TV Guide Magazine: You picked up a whopping 12 new series for next season. Is that a function of NBC's big needs, or did your pilots turn out better than expected?
Greenblatt: Some people would say we needed even more than that. We wanted to do a couple of things. We have a lot of needs. We didn't want to do too much, but several hour time periods we needed to really shore up. Comedy is a priority. Three comedies make up only hour and a half of schedule. So it may sound like a lot of shows, but in terms of hours, it's really not that many. We wanted to see if we could get three more comedies on the schedule and another hour.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you hope to expand that Wednesday hour of comedies into another two-hour block by midseason?
Greenblatt: We'll take that one hour at a time. I would love to expand to another hour, but I'd be thrilled if we could get one hour launched separate from Thursday. And our Wednesday schedule has all kind of domino effects to it. When you look at all the things we have, we wanted to keep some stability in this schedule in addition to the big moves we're making. Our Tuesday lineup is working for us, so we didn't want to throw that into the air. And Monday is being reconfigured in a significant way, while Thursday, we wanted to [launch another hour drama at 10 p.m.]
NBC holds The Voice, 30 Rock for midseason, bumps up The Sing-Off to fall
TV Guide Magazine: Launching two brand-new comedies at 8 can be dangerous.
Greenblatt: What we're trying to do with those two shows is lead with our strength. We have stars on these shows in Christina Applegate [Up All Night] and Hank Azaria [Free Agents], and both are terrific pilots. We're not fooling ourselves that it's going to be a snap to launch a new hour of comedy on Wednesday.
TV Guide Magazine: There was a lot of talk that Chuck wouldn't return, but it's the little engine that could. How did you decide to bring it back for one final, 13-episode run?
Greenblatt: Chuck gets the perennial bad rap. But it's a really good show. And we wanted to completely reinvigorate Friday. Plus, I wanted to give the fans their due and conclude the show properly. It's great to do one final chapter of Chuck. And we had a great creative meeting with McG and the group over there.
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TV Guide Magazine: And on the flip side, why didn't you renew Law and Order: L.A.?
Greenblatt: We moved it around, took it off the schedule and tried to revamp it. It improved significantly creatively, and it didn't have a great lead-in on Mondays. It was one of those tough decisions: do we stick with it or was it time to move on?
TV Guide Magazine: Why didn't Wonder Woman pan out?
Greenblatt: They did a great pilot and worked really hard on it. And I have huge respect for David E. Kelley. But we looked at the schedule and our needs and where things were falling into place. And it just didn't seem to fit.