Two weeks prior to upfront week, NBC has announced its programming initiatives for the 2009-10 season at its “infront” presentation in New York. But specific time periods have not been officially confirmed, and the future of on-the-fence series Chuck, Law & Order, Medium and My Name is Earl remain uncertain.
With five nights (and five hours) of talker The Jay Leno Show filling the weeknight 10 p.m. hour, plus the return of football on Sunday (and a lack of original options other than Dateline on low-HUT level Saturday), the main concern is the Monday to Friday 8-10 p.m. block. With that in mind, the network will roll out six scripted series throughout the season: dramas Parenthood, Trauma, Mercy and Day One; and comedies 100 Questions and Community. Day One will launch out of the 2010 Winter Olympics, while start dates for the remaining entries are pending. The Leno talker, meanwhile, is expected to remain in production for 46 weeks. NBC will also air six new episodes of Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday. And there are three non-scripted series on the agenda: The Marriage Ref (from former golden boy Jerry Seinfeld), Breakthrough With Tony Robbins and Who Do You Think You Are?
Despite the Jay Leno project inheriting an unprecedented 23 percent of the prime-time real estate, NBC has announced several series renewals including Heroes, The Biggest Loser, Law & Order: SVU, The Office, 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Celebrity Apprentice, and the recently introduced Southland and Parks and Recreation. Heroes is expected to remain in the Monday 9 p.m. hour, while The Biggest Loser will continue to anchor Tuesday (although it may be trimmed down from two hours). Law & Order: SVU will air on Wednesday (likely at 9 p.m.), but the future of series stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay is up in the air. Thursday 8-10 p.m. will feature the ongoing two-hour sitcom block, while Friday will consist of two scripted dramas leading into Leno. The official NBC schedule will be announced on May 19.
While the network, of course, cannot be critiqued until the specific time periods are revealed, common consensus among the press at the New York presentation was positive, particularly for the new crop of scripted series.
Here are the new program descriptions:
The daily events inside a hospital are seen through the eyes of three nurses. Taylor Schilling (Dark Matter), Jamie Lee Kirchner (Rescue Me) and Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) star.
Based on the 1989 Ron Howard theatrical, four grown siblings share the “headaches, heartaches and joy” of being parents. Peter Krause, Maria Tierney and former Coach star Craig T. Nelson lead the ensemble cast. (Footnote: Parenthood, a failed half-hour comedic version of the movie aired briefly on NBC in the fall of 1990).
First responder paramedics are the focus of this medical drama set in San Francisco. Derek Luke (Notorious), Cliff Curtis (10,000 B.C.), Anastasia Griffith (Damages) and Jamey Sheridan (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) star.
A diversified group of survivors strive to rebuild society after a global catastrophe has devastated the world. The cast includes Adam Campbell (Date Movie), Catherine Dent (The Shield), Julie Gonzalo (Eli Stone), Carly Pope (24) and Addison Timlin (Cashmere Mafia).
A woman (Sophie Winkleman) looking for love joins an online dating site and revisits various times in her life as she takes a 100-question compatibility test. Directed by Emmy winner James Burrowss (Cheers, Will & Grace).
A band of misfits is the focus of life at fictional Greendale Community College. Chevy Chase and Joel McHale (The Soup) star.
THE JAY LENO SHOW
The soon-to-be former host of The Tonight Show heads to prime-time in a nightly hour featuring comedy skits, big stunts and well-known segments like “Headlines” and “Jaywalking.”
THE MARRIAGE REF
Comedy Legend Jerry Seinfeld is the creator and producer of this non-scripted look at marriage as celebrities, comedians and sports stars decide who is right…and who is wrong…in real-life disputes between real-life spouses.
BREAKTHROUGH WITH TONY ROBBINS
Best-selling author and philanthropist Tony Robbins attempts to inspire people to search out the tools to forever change their lives.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
A different celebrity each week embarks on a journey of self discovery, revealing stories that are often linked to events in American history.
For my personal thoughts on the new NBC programs, listen to today’s PIPodcast at www.marcberman.tv.
CBS would like you to believe that moving recently introduced Harper’s Island to Saturday at 9 p.m. is an aggressive move. But we all know, of course, that any time a scripted series gets sent packing to Saturday (think NBC’s Crusoe and Kings), it is nothing more than a burn-off measure. With that in mind, Harper’s Island debuted in the Saturday 9 p.m. slot on May 2 with 4.61 million viewers (#2) and a third-place 1.0 rating/3 share among adults 18-49, according to the fast affiliate results. While that did manage to build from a repeat of Without a Trace (Viewers: #2, 4.23 million; A18-49: #4, 0.7/ 3 at 8 p.m.), there is no future for Harper’s Island.
-Above Average Kentucky Derby:
Based on the overnight rating results for Saturday, May 2, NBC’s coverage of The Kentucky Derby rose to a 10.2 rating/22 share from 7-8 p.m. -- up seven percent from one year earlier. Comparably, this was the highest rated Derby in 17 years.
The CW is in advanced conversations to give back its perennially low-rated block of Sunday programming to the affiliate stations, paring down its schedule from six to five nights. In an unprecedented move last fall, the network leased Sunday out to independent producer Media Rights Capital, which introduced non-scripted In Harm’s Way and dramas Valentine and Easy Money. But the agreement was halted by November and repeats of Jericho and a Sunday movie have populated the evening ever since after the CW regained control. Eliminating Sunday allows the CW to focus on its Monday to Friday 8-10 p.m. block of programming.
Said a CW spokesman: “As we plan our 2009-10 fall launch, we are in talks with several of our top affiliate partners about a number of creative and mutually beneficial actions that will build on our growing record of success. These discussions include an evolution of the strategy, which began this season, to focus The CW’s resources on Monday through Friday nights. As a result, we are now exploring the transition of Sunday night to our affiliates. This would provide a new revenue opportunity for the stations, while at the same time expanding upon our successful weekday strategy from this year, which resulted in ratings growth among our target audience.”
The absence of minimally seen Sunday will, no doubt, result in overall year-to-year rating gains for the network next season.
-Upcoming in First-Run Syndication – Beyond Twisted:
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution (WBDTD) and Fox Television Stations (FTS) are teaming up for an eight-week test/preview of a first-run reality strip in syndication from the producers of TMZ called Beyond Twisted. Slated to debut on Monday, July 6, Beyond Twisted will feature professional and user-generated content focused on what is described as “irreverent and jaw-dropping moments” from around the world. Similar to TMZ, Beyond Twisted will take viewers behind the “fourth wall,” giving them direct access to the creative process. Stations scheduled to participate in the eight-week test include WNYW/New York, KTTV/Los Angeles, KDFW/Dallas-Fort Worth, WJBK/Detroit, KSAS/Phoenix and KMSP/Minneapolis.
-Guaranteed Pick-Up for Old Christine:
CBS’ on-the-fence The New Adventures of Old Christine could have a new home next season: ABC. Should CBS decide to cancel the three-year old sitcom, ABC has made a deal with Warner Bros. TV for a full season (22-episode) pick-up.
Fox has renewed freshman J.J. Abrams drama Fringe for the 2009-10 season, with an order for 22 additional episodes.
Which one of the following sitcoms had its theme song sung by country crooners The Judds?
Love & War
The answer to yesterday’s question…
Four of the following five series were comedies. Which one wasn’t?
Is: e) Shirley, which aired in the 1979-80 season and featured Shirley Jones as a recent widow with three children and one resentful stepchild. Poor Shirley Jones…she could never snag a live TV husband!
-Current kudos goes to: Gerry Bixenspan, Larry Collins, John Ferlazzo, Arleen Fong, Jim Forkan, Maureen Goldman, Mary Kinoshita, Alan Perris, Gordon Purcell, Colleen Roth, Ron Salmon, Ronnie Tallant