As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for NBC, Chairman Robert Greenblatt took some time to talk about the network’s current and upcoming line-up, as well as some possibilities for the future. During the interview, he talked about how Peter Pan will be their next live production, airing on December 4th, what people can expect from their Emerald City series with a 20-year-old Dorothy in the center of it, the mini-series The Slap, about a family that gets torn apart when a child is slapped by a family member at a barbecue, State of Affairs, starring and produced by Katherine Heigl, in which she plays a special CIA advisor to the president, their development relationship with Amy Poehler, and the possibility of another season of Grimm, Parks and Recreation, and Community. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
ROBERT GREENBLATT: Next December 4th, we will broadcast a new live production of the Broadway musical Peter Pan. NBC has a history with the show, which even I didn’t know. In 1955, the Broadway production, which was doing great business, closed in order for the whole cast to do a live broadcast of it on NBC from a studio in Manhattan, and it was in color, which was a novelty back then. 65 million people tuned in. It was so successful that, a year later, NBC did another live production with the same cast. And then in 1960, they did it again, this time starring Mia Farrow. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will be back producing again for us, and we’ll be announcing a cast as soon as we get it. Get ready for flying children and some kind of state-of-the-art light technology for little Tinker Bell.
Do you have concerns about pulling off the flying stunts live?
GREENBLATT: Oh, yeah. You’re going to see the wires. There’s an old kinescope that exists in the Mary Martin version, which is in black-and-white because they couldn’t record it in color, and you see the wires. I think that’s part of the charm of the show. We’ll do what we can to disguise them. There’s a company called Flying by Foy that is the company that does the state-of-the-art flying effects, not only in Broadway shows, but in Las Vegas shows and in arena shows, all around the world. We will most likely use Flying by Foy. So, we always have safety concerns, but it’s just part of the normal process.
What can you say about your Dorothy in Oz series?
GREENBLATT: Emerald City is a modern re-imagining of the L. Frank Baum books that, of course, inspired many things, including The Wizard of Oz and Wicked. Our version is a bit of a thrilling, more epic telling of the stories, through the eyes of 20-year-old Dorothy who gets caught up in a tornado, but drops into a place that is definitely not your grandmother’s Oz. This is a big unfolding mystery. There are a lot of new characters that you will meet. Some might look a little familiar, but some you’ve never seen before. We’ll be going into production on the show, probably at the end of the summer, and hopefully we will have 10 episodes ready for mid-season, next year.
How long do you see Emerald City going on for?
GREENBLATT: Emerald City could be over after 10 episodes, if we feel like we’ve plumbed the depths of what we want to do with that show. But, given that there are a number of books to draw from, and a rich imagination of a writing staff, we could have Emerald City on the air for five years.
GREENBLATT: We picked up a mini-series, called The Slap. It’s an eight-hour miniseries that’s a big drama about a family that gets torn apart when a child is slapped by a family member at a barbecue. We live in a world of political correctness with a lot of differing opinions about how to discipline children, and this incident devolves all the way into an ugly court case. The award-winning writer Jon Robin Baitz is writing all eight hours, and the producers are Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. We hope to have that ready for mid-season.
We also picked up a pilot that will be starring and produced by Katherine Heigl, called State of Affairs. She plays a special CIA advisor to the president, based on the real person in the CIA who reports every morning on international affairs. The show is also being produced and directed by Joe Carnahan, who did such a great job for us, directing The Blacklist pilot and setting the tone for that show. We are really lucky to have him on board for this show, and we hope it will be very intelligent and very emotional.
The other pilot that we’re ordering this morning is an untitled comedy co-created by Amy Poehler, who will also executive-produce. The working title is Old Soul, but we are still playing with titles. That stars Natasha Lyonne, who plays a young woman that is trying to find herself, but in the meantime, she’s working as an aide to a group of opinionated elderly people. She’s trying to figure out where she fits in between her trendy young friends and her savvy older ones. This show will hopefully blow up some of the clichés we think about old people. It’s been a while since The Golden Girls gave us a funny and insightful ensemble of seniors, and I hope this show will do that, too. And we’ve just closed a three-year overall producing deal with Amy Poehler to develop and produce new shows for us. She works really fast. This deal is barely done, and she’s already delivered us this script that we’re piloting. We are really happy to find new ways to grow our relationship with her, as she remains as the star and centerpiece of Parks and Rec.
GREENBLATT: I think the prospects for Grimm are very good.
What can you say about the future of Parks and Rec and Community?
GREENBLATT: Parks and Rec and Community are great shows. We’re going to have to look at how much comedy will be on the schedule in the Fall and where it will land, but I think both of those shows are strong possibilities for returning. With that, it’s always dicey to say anything definitive because you have no idea how all the creators and auspices of all the shows come running to us when we say anything specific.