As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for NBC, Chairman of NBC Entertainment Robert Greenblatt and President of Entertainment Jennifer Salke took some time to talk about their comedies and dramas, both with their present line-up and what’s to come. During this interview, they talked about their upcoming line-up of mini-series – AD: After the Bible, the story of Cleopatra, the life of Hillary Clinton (played by Diane Lane), an updated remake of Rosemary’s Baby, and a new version of Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers – the motivations behind moving the production for Revolution from North Carolina to Texas, recognizing that Hannibal really pushes the envelope, why they chose to move Grimm back to Fridays, and just how graphic Dracula will get. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
ROBERT GREENBLATT: AD: After the Bible is actually the next big Mark Burnett event series. We think that will be a big deal for us, not this coming broadcast season, but the following one. We’re developing a six-hour mini-series based on Cleopatra. We’re developing a four-hour mini-series based on Hillary Clinton, to star Diane Lane. We’re going to do an updated remake and re-setting of the classic Rosemary’s Baby. We’re going to do a new version of Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers. When you look at what happened with Under the Dome, an event series based on Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers sounded really interesting to us. And we have another limited series that we’re going to do with Mark Burnett, that we’re tentatively calling Plymouth, which is the story of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.
Aside from Diane Lane, do you have any other casting lined up yet for the Hillary Clinton mini-series?
GREENBLATT: We haven’t cast President Clinton yet. We literally just closed the deal and haven’t even written the script, so all that is to be determined. We’re going to have to really think about the timing of it. She’s probably not going to declare her candidacy for two more years. I think it will be the late spring or early summer of ‘15 that she will declare, so this could well have aired before that. We have to talk through all of that.
What were the motivations behind moving the production for Revolution to Texas?
GREENBLATT: They’re deep in production in Austin. It’s a nomadic show. If you follow the episodes, I don’t believe there are any standing sets for this show, so it is constantly on the move and usually out in the middle of the environs. It was in North Carolina, this past season, and Eric [Kripke] and J.J. [Abrams] said, “We really think we’ve mined a lot of the great exterior locations here.” Creatively, the show moves to Texas in the second season, so they thought, and Warner Bros. agreed, that it would be great to move the show to Austin, for a different sort of backdrop.
JENNIFER SALKE: With Hannibal, we recognize that that show really pushes the envelope a lot. For us, it’s important, in a world where these cable shows are beloved and infringing on real estate that was network real estate, to send a message to the community, and to creators like Bryan Fuller and David Slade, who work on that show, that we support a big, risky event vision like that. There was a cynical attitude toward Hannibal, from the very beginning, with people saying, “Oh, it’s on NBC. They’re going to pull it off, at some point. It will never really live there. I don’t know why it’s there. I’m confused why it’s there to begin with.” I think it was just critical to send a message that we would support a show like that at 10 o’clock, and that we would support a creator with a vision that felt like it was a little bit out there on the gangplank, as far as content.
Why are you moving Grimm back to Fridays?
GREENBLATT: We’ve moved that show around a little bit. We had it on Mondays, after the Olympics, last year. Every time we’ve moved it, we hear from people, “Don’t take it off Friday. We love it on Friday. Why are you screwing with our show?” We put it in on Tuesdays, in the spring, for a few weeks because we thought it deserved the jolt of The Voice lead-in, just to drive more viewers to it. But everybody said, “Leave it on Friday,” so we took that to heart. And I think we tried to build a night that’s a little bit more genre, with Dracula. Genre has some juice on Friday night. We thought that it was good not to screw something up that’s working.
Compared to Hannibal, how graphic is Dracula going to be, and are you hoping to appeal to the True Blood and The Vampire Diaries audiences with that show?
GREENBLATT: I’ll take any vampire fans I can get. Dracula isn’t a serial killer story.
SALKE: When you’re not eating people, it’s somehow a lot less graphic. It’s imagery that people are used to – seeing vampires have to feed, to some extent – because of all the vampire material that’s out there. You’re not dealing with some of the filleting of body organs and things that happen in Hannibal, that have a lot more shock value. It’s romantic and epic. There’s definitely violence to it, but it has a different feel.