(updated 12:30 p.m. ET with new scheduling/strategy information) They’re praying to the Holy Trinity at NBC: Football, “The
Voice” and Dick Wolf. The Peacock network ends the 2015-2016 season in
decent shape thanks to those three factors, which is why the network is
doubling down with even more football and Wolf’s “Chicago” next season.
NBC will now share the “Thursday Night Football” package with CBS and NFL Network, which means it will get five games in the fall, in addition to its top-rated “Sunday Night Football.” And the network continues to grow its Windy
City stockpile, adding the new “Chicago Justice” to Wolf’s “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago P.D.” (Wolf also still has “Law & Order: SVU” on NBC.) “The Voice,” now the Last Music Competition Standing at the networks, remains a multiple-night juggernaut.
“Between five hours of Dick Wolf shows, 80 hours of ‘The Voice,’ 17 weeks of football, five more nights of football than last year, you have to do something really good in order to get on that schedule,” said one rival executive. And indeed, NBC is keeping it simple in the fall, adding just three new series to its lineup. (The lion’s share of freshman shows will come in the winter and spring.) “I’m happy that we didn’t have to do a lot in the fall — I couldn’t be happier, actually,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt.
That full cupboard is why NBC was able to be brutal with its cancellations this past week–most notably, giving the ax to “The Mysteries of Laura.” The Debra Messing drama performs well with total viewers, but it’s an older-skewing show–plus NBC doesn’t own it (the show is produced by Warner Bros. TV). NBC ultimately ordered six new dramas for next season, including
“Justice” and “The Blacklist” spinoff “The Blacklist: Redemption,” leaving little room for bubble shows.
Also important, NBC needs room to try and once again revive the network’s
paltry lineup. Sitcoms were once the staple of NBC, but next fall the network
has one returning comedy (“Superstore”) — or possibly two, once 20th
Century Fox TV and NBC finally finish their haggling over the fate of “The
“It’s hard to launch comedy when you don’t have comedy,” another competitor said. “NBC still has a real comedy problem.” Said another: “You can’t go that many years without putting on a consistent comedy block.”
With so many pre-sold new titles on the drama side, NBC will have to
put its energy into launching its new half hours. The Peacock may have the
goods, given the talent behind this freshman crop: Among them, Tina Fey and
Robert Carlock (“Great News”); Mike Schur (“The Good Place”), Marlon Wayans (“Marlon”), DC Comics (“Powerless”). The network will kick off fall by airing two comedies on Thursday night: “Superstore” (which will also get a boost by airing a special episode during NBC’s Rio Olympics coverage) and “Good Place.”
Season to date, NBC is averaging 8.2 million total viewers (second place) and a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49 (just a tenth of a ratings point behind first-place CBS, which aired the Super Bowl this year).
We asked NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke to fill out our Upfront Survey; here’s her take on what’s to come:
1. What were your main goals this development cycle?
Given the stability of the schedule, we were looking to build upon our existing line-up with high-octane procedural projects, fun serialized series that could potentially open a night, and some great comedy companions for “Superstore.”
2. What were you most proud of this past TV season?
The strength of the Chicago franchise and performance of “Chicago Med.”
3. What is your TV guilty pleasure right now?
Watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” with my teenage daughters.
4. What is the biggest game changer (or disrupter) in the
TV biz this year?
That we are less beholden to the linear ratings.
5. How would you change pilot season?
I’ve always liked the idea of making pilot series outside of the traditional seasons. We had great results with shows like “Taken,” “This is Us” and “The Good Place” all benefitting from being out of the pilot craziness fray.
Here’s NBC’s new fall 2016 schedule:
8 p.m., “The Voice”; 10 p.m., “Timeless” (new drama)
8 p.m., “The Voice”; 9 p.m., “This Is Us” (new drama); 10 p.m.,
8 p.m., “Blindspot”; 9 p.m. “Law & Order: SVU”; 10
p.m., “Chicago P.D.”
8 p.m., “Superstore”; 8:30 p.m., “The Good Place” (new
comedy); 9 p.m., “Chicago Med”; 10 p.m., “The Blacklist”
8 p.m., “Caught on Camera with Nick Cannon”; 9 p.m.,
“Grimm”; 10 p.m., “Dateline NBC”
8 p.m., “Saturday Dateline Mysteries”; 10 p.m., “Saturday Night
7 p.m., “Football Night in America”; 8:20, “Sunday Night
“Taken” (new drama); “Midnight, Texas” (new drama);
“Emerald City” (new drama); “The Blacklist: Redemption”
(new drama); “Great News” (new comedy); “Trial & Error”
(new comedy); “Powerless” (new comedy); “Marlon” (new
comedy); “The Wall” (new alternative series); “First Dates”
(new alternative series); “The New Celebrity Apprentice”;
“Little Big Shots”; “Shades of Blue.”
And here’s a round up of what’s new on NBC next year:
Redemption”: Undercover operative Tom Keen
(Ryan Eggold) joins forces with Susan “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen), the
brilliant and cunning chief of Grey Matters, a covert mercenary organization
that solves problems governments don’t dare touch. While on the hunt for Liz’s
attacker, Tom secretly discovered that Scottie is actually his biological
mother. Now, as they team up to employ their unique skills and resources in a
dangerous world of deadly criminals, Tom begins his own covert mission to find out more about his shadowy past.
Executive producers: Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, John Fox and John Davis. Director: Michael Dinner. Studio: Sony Pictures Television.
“Chicago Justice”: Just like their brethren in the Chicago P.D., the State’s
Attorney’s dedicated team of prosecutors and investigators navigates heated
city politics and controversy head-on while fearlessly pursuing justice. As
they take on the city’s high stakes and often media-frenzied cases, they must
balance public opinion, power struggles within the system and their unwavering passion for the law. It all starts with a gut-wrenching case when one of Chicago’s finest is shot in the line of duty.
The cast includes Philip Winchester, Carl Weathers, Nazneen Contractor, Joelle Carter and Ryan-James Hatanaka.
Executive producers: Dick Wolf, Peter Jankowski, Matt Olmstead, Derek Haas, Michael Brandt and Arthur Forney. Studio: Universal Television.
“Emerald City”: Swept up into the eye of a tornado, 20-year-old Dorothy
Gale (Adria Arjona) is transported to another world — a mystical land in
great peril, where an all-powerful Wizard has forbidden magic and rules over
the many kingdoms. This is the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never
seen before – where lethal warriors roam, wicked witches plot in the shadows,
and a young girl from Kansas becomes the headstrong hero who holds the fate of their world in her hands.
Executive producers: David Schulner, Shaun Cassidy and Matt Arnold. Studio: Universal Television.
“Midnight, Texas”: Based on the hit book series from author Charlaine Harris (“True Blood”), a journey into a remote Texas town where no one is who they seem. From vampires and witches to psychics and hit men, Midnight is a mysterious safe haven for those who are different. As the town members fight off outside pressures from rowdy biker gangs, ever-suspicious cops and their own dangerous pasts, they band together and form a strong and unlikely family. The cast includes François Arnaud, Dylan Bruce, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Arielle Kebbel, Sarah Ramos, Peter Mensah, Yul Vazquez and Sean Bridgers.
Executive producers: Monica Owusu-Breen, David Janollari and director Niels Arden Oplev. Studio: Universal Television.
“Taken”: This new modern-day, edge-of-your-seat thriller follows the origin story of younger, hungrier former Green Beret Bryan Mills (Clive Standen, “Vikings”) as he deals with a personal tragedy that shakes his world. As he fights to overcome the incident and exact revenge, Mills is pulled into a career as a deadly CIA operative, a job that awakens his very particular, and very
dangerous, set of skills. Also stars Jennifer Beals, Brooklyn Sudano, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Gaius Charles, Michael Irby, James Landry Hébert and Jose Pablo Cantillo.
Executive producers: Alexander Cary, Luc Besson, Matthew Gross, Edouard de Vésinne, Thomas Anargyros and director Alex Graves. Studio: Universal Television.
“This Is Us”: Starring Mandy Moore (“A Walk to Remember”), Milo Ventimiglia (“Heroes,” “Gilmore Girls”) and Sterling K. Brown (“American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson),” following a unique ensemble whose paths cross and their life stories intertwine in curious ways. We find several of them share the same birthday, and so much more than anyone would expect. Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan and Ron Cephas Jones also star.
Executive producers: Dan Fogelman, Jess Rosenthal, Charlie Gogolak and directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. Studio: 20th Century Fox Television.
“Timeless”: From Eric Kripke (“Revolution,” “Supernatural”), Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”) and the producers of “The Blacklist” comes this thrilling action-adventure series in which a mysterious criminal steals a secret state-of-the-art time machine, intent on destroying America as we know it by changing the past. Our only hope is an unexpected team: a scientist, soldier and history professor who must use the machine’s prototype to travel back in time to critical events. While they must make every effort not to affect the past themselves, they must also stay one step ahead of this dangerous fugitive. Can this handpicked team uncover the mystery behind it all and end his destruction before it’s too late? The cast includes Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, Goran Visnjic, Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey and Claudia Doumit.
Executive producers: Eric Kripke, Shawn Ryan, John Davis, John Fox, Marney Hochman and director Neil Marshall. Studio: Sony Pictures Television.
“The Good Place”: Mike Schur’s new sitcom follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell, “House of Lies,” “Veronica Mars”), an ordinary woman who, through an extraordinary string of events, enters the afterlife where she comes to realize that she hasn’t been a very good person. With the help of her wise newfound afterlife mentor (Ted Danson, “Bored to Death,” “Cheers”), she’s determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome (or at least the pretty good) person within.
Executive producers: Mike Schur and David Miner. Director: Drew Goddard. Universal Television is the studio.
“Great News”: When Katie, an up-and-coming news producer, finds out her overbearing mom (Andrea Martin, “SCTV,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) has rejoined the workforce as an intern at the station where Katie works, it might just be the worst news ever. But, with her biggest cheerleader at her side, Katie might finally get the recognition she deserves. Briga Heelan, Adam Campbell, Kimrie Lewis-Davis, John Michael Higgins and Horatio Sanz also star.
Executive producers: Tracey Whigfield, Tina Fey, Robert Carlock and David Miner. Director: Beth McCarthy-Miller. Studio: Universal Television.
“Marlon”: Loosely inspired by the real life of star Marlon Wayans (“In Living Color,” “Scary Movie”), this update to the classic family comedy centers on a loving (but immature) father committed to co-parenting his two kids with his very-together ex-wife. While his misguided fatherly advice, unstoppable larger-than-life personality and unpredictable Internet superstardom might get in the way sometimes, for Marlon family really always does come first — even if he’s the biggest kid of all. Also stars Essence Atkins, Notlim Taylor, Amir O’Neil, Bresha Webb and Diallo Riddle.
Executive producers: Christopher Moynihan, Marlon Wayans, Rick Alvarez, Michael Rotenberg and director Andy Ackerman (pilot). Studio: Universal Television.
“Powerless”: In the first comedy series set in the universe of DC Comics, Vanessa Hudgens (“Grease Live,” “High School Musical”) plays Emily, a spunky young insurance adjuster specializing in regular-people coverage against damage caused by the crime-fighting superheroes. It’s when she stands up to one of these larger-than-life figures (after an epic battle messes with her commute) that she accidentally becomes a cult “hero” in her own right … even if it’s just to her group of lovably quirky co-workers. Now, while she navigates her normal, everyday life against an explosive backdrop, Emily might just discover that being a hero doesn’t always require superpowers. The cast also includes Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi and Christina Kirk.
Executive producers: Ben Queen and director Michael Patrick Jann (pilot). Studio: Warner Bros. Television.
“Trial and Error”: Bright-eyed New York lawyer Josh Segal heads to a tiny Southern town for his first big case. His mission? To defend an eccentric, “rollercizing” poetry professor (John Lithgow, “3rd Rock From the Sun”) accused of the bizarre murder of his beloved wife. Settling into his makeshift office behind a taxidermy shop and meeting his quirky team of local misfits, Josh suspects that winning his first big case will not be easy, especially when his client is always making himself look guilty. The cast also includes Nicholas D’Agosto, Jayma Mays, Sherri Shepherd, Steven Boyer and Krysta Rodriguez.
Executive producers: Jeff Astrof and Matt Miller. Director: Jeffrey Blitz. Studio: Warner Bros. Television.
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