NBC’s fall schedule leaked earlier today, but the official announcement came later in the day, accompanied by a conference call with NBC Executives Jeff Gaspin, Marc Graboff, Angela Bromstad and Paul Telegdy. Among the topics covered: lots of talk about the Law & Order franchise, the chances Heroes will get a movie to tie up loose ends, the network’s utmost faith in Jimmy Smits, and what NBC will do if Steve Carell leaves The Office. Look for a rundown of the call after the jump.
On the future of the Law & Order franchise . . .
NBC’s cancellation of Law & Order was certainly controversial, as it was one season away from breaking the record for the longest running primetime drama. Said Bromstad, “It was time to move forward, to reinvent the brand.” They’re not done with the franchise yet, though, as Wednesday nights feature new entry L&O: Los Angeles (or LOLA) alongside L&O: SVU. The brand must be somewhat diminished if they’re willing to cancel the mothership, and moving SVU back to 9:00 where it struggled in the fall may not help. It seems LOLA has quite the uphill battle this September, and all eyes will be watching those ratings.
On the Thursday night comedies and The Office without a boss . . .
With regard to the movement of NBC comedies, it was “very clear” to the network that it needed to try a new comedy at 9:30 to take advantage of the Office lead-in, perhaps at the expense of 30 Rock (moved to 8:30). Good news for Parks & Recreation, though: when it returns in midseason, it may get a chance behind its spiritual companion at 9:30 for the first time ever (Parks started as a spinoff of The Office centered around Amy Poehler, but the creators took it a whole different direction). The dirty little secret of NBC’s Thursday night is that The Office is the only real strong point, so it must be troubling for the network when star Steve Carell mentions the next season will probably be his last. They understand that Carell is “incredibly important to the show,” and while they hope he sticks around, the company line is that the “great ensemble” can carry the show in his absence.
On the stability of Chuck . . .
On Monday nights, Chuck is a perennial bubble show, overcoming low ratings each season with the news of a last-minute renewal. So why not try it on another night? With eight new shows premiering in the fall, NBC felt the need to keep some pieces in place for the sake of stability: in their words, “We can’t change every hour of schedule at once.” Hence, NBC will stick with the Thursday night comedies, Parenthood and The Biggest Loser on Tuesdays, and (apparently) Chuck on Monday nights. The spy dramedy does have a steady fanbase (“a solid group of young male viewers”), and the network hopes the show fits well with their new Monday shows.
On promoting the new dramas . . .
NBC is counting on their massive Sunday Night Football viewership to promote the new Monday lineup, with Chuck at 8:00, The Event at 9:00, and Chase at 10:00. The new shows were both categorized as “high-octane”; NBC is particularly hoping that The Event will “appeal to the Heroes audience” as it replaces the cancelled superhero saga in the 9:00 timeslot. As expected, NBC is very high on Undercovers from J.J. Abrams, which they hope will kickstart their Wednesdays, a night where no network has a true stronghold over 8:00. Scheduling the new legal drama Outlaw for Fridays at 10:00 seems like a death knell, but the network is “counting on Jimmy [Smits] to bring people there.” I wish you luck, Mr. Smits.
On the chances of more Heroes . . .
The executives did confirm that they were considering putting together a “two hour event” for the recently cancelled Heroes, which would air “sometime next year” if it came together. A sad end for the once-powerful drama.
On what won’t be seen on NBC anytime soon . . .
The Rockford Files remake looked like a lock during the early days of development, but Bromstad remarked that while they were looking for an A++ effort, they came up with “an A-/B+ pilot.” Hmm . . . the rumors suggest that a C-/D+ would be more appropriate grade. Surprisingly little talk of the Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno debacle, save for the brief comment, “We are very happy with Jay Leno’s performance, and we wish Conan the best.” Oh, and remember the sci-fi series Day One that was ordered last year? It seems it will never see the air, not even in the summer.
8:00—The Biggest Loser (2 hours)
9:00—Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10:00—Law & Order: Los Angeles
8:00—Who Do You Think You Are?/School Pride
7:00—Football Night in America
8:00—NBC Sunday Night Football