NBC has busted out its weapon of choice.
The network announced that it has cast Oscar winner Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in its live musical production of Peter Pan, which will air Dec. 4. "Funny, right?" NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association fall previews on Sunday. "He's one of the most unique actors... but he's just really a song and dance man at heart... It'll be the first tap-dancing Captain Hook you've ever seen."
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Walken's musical side has been seen in Pennies From Heaven, Hairspray, the film adaptation of Jersey Boys and in Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" music video, which he also helped choreograph.
Greenblatt later confirmed that, as has been tradition in the theater, the lead role of Peter Pan will be played a woman. Although NBC was previously in discussions with Kristen Bell for the role before she had known she was pregnant, she couldn't sign on because of her commitment to House of Lies.
Check out what more news from NBC's executive session:
The state of NBC: Greenblatt was happy to point ut that NBC was No. 1 in the coveted adult 18-49 demographic and and the only network to continue to improve year to year. It also leads the 25-40 demographic and all female demos.
More reality on the way: Greenblatt also announced that its summer reality series — America's Got Talent, American Ninja Warrior and Last Comic Standing — have each been renewed for another season.
Late-night wars Ushering in the new late-night lineup went smoothly, with new Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon bringing the show to a 20-year ratings high and regularly beating rivals Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman on ABC and CBS, respectively. In addition, Late Night with Seth Meyers also consistently beat out Letterman, which airs an hour earlier.
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Why NBC passed on renewing Community: "Yahoo is in a different business than we are trying to build their platform," Greenblatt said. "They made an extraordinary deal that we're the co-owners of that show, and we're going to make money on it right away, which wouldn't have been the case if it had been on the network for another year.
"You're never off the hook," he continued. "That [six seasons and a movie] thing was created by them. I'm surprised they didn't say 10 seasons and movie, right? It was before my time. It just didn't make sense for us to have another season if it [remained] at that level of audience. I don't know if we'll ever know how many people watch it on Yahoo. I guess we will. I'm curious to see if they can get a bigger audience than we did."
Red Nose Day: Next May, NBC will hold its very first U.S. version of Red Nose Day, a charity institution in England. The all-day event will lead up to a three-hour prime-time broadcast special, in which viewers will be asked to donate. NBC will partner with various comedy groups, including Funny or Die.
The demise of The Michael J. Fox Show: Although Greenblatt regretted letting the Michael J. Fox comedy go, he defended the choice. "We struggled and worked really hard to figure out how to bring an audience," he said. "Thursdays were obviously tough."
NBC's rom-com focus: Both upcoming series Marry Me and A to Z are part of the network's attempt to capture a romantic comedy niche that they feel is not currently on the air. Despite its title, Marry Me will not necessarily end with the central couple getting married, especially since the series' director recently married its star Casey Wilson, and therefore will be able to mine subject matter from their real-life experiences.
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Taking on the Heigls: NBC has no regrets about its upcoming series State of Affairs, which stars controversial actress Katherine Heigl, who is producing along with her mother Nancy Heigl. "We knew they were a set," NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke said. "Her mother is her momager, her best friend, her confidant, helps her raise her child. They have a very natural shorthand. So far, so good."
More Maya Rudolph may be on the way: The one-off Maya Rudolph variety special could return. Late-night and alternative programming President Paul Telegdy said, "Much is being discussed with Maya about what the show would look like if we bring it back... and how we'd replicate it on a special basis or weekly basis. We are in active creative discussions."
Not emotional over the Emmys: Although Greenblatt acknowledged that he would have liked more Emmy nominations for NBC — The Blacklist and James Spader in particular — he's not wringing his hands over it. "I think we care... but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. I'm not going to grouse about the Emmys... I don't think we change the rules to advantage us in some way."
When will Celebrity Apprentice air? The new season has been produced, but there's no word about when it will actually show up on the NBC schedule. "We have a wealth of new material [on NBC], but we haven't figured out the perfect place for Celebrity Apprentice to go," Telegdy said.
Cosby Show update As with Bill Cosby's previous hit comedies, the upcoming series will be a multi-generational ensemble with Cosby as the patriarch. He will have three daughters, whose spouses and children will contribute to the big, extended family. Mike O'Malley will executive-produce as well as star as one of the spouses. Since the show is still being written, no premiere date has been announced, but don't expect to see it until sometime in 2015.
Constantine's diversity: As part of NBC's push for diversity, Salke said that upcoming drama Constantine has recast a lead role — which previously went to True Blood's Lucy Griffiths, with an "authentically Latina actress," but did not reveal her name.
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The problem with Hannibal: "Hannibal is one of the best shows we have creatively and one of the best reviewed shows and we still struggle to find an audience for it," Greenblatt admitted. He also pointed out that the low ratings would seem respectable if the show had been on cable. Salke also noted that they had heard the pitch for Season 3 and it "blew us away."
When will the Heroes be reborn? Highly anticipated series Heroes Reborn likely won't hit the air until 2015, mainly because of series boss Tim Kring is commitments to USA's upcoming series Dig.
Are you excited for NBC's new season? What do you think of Walken as Captain Hook?
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NBC has busted out its weapon of choice.
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