NBC To Try To Nurture 'Friday Night Lights' To Eventual Nielsen Health

mark · 05/11/07 02:53PM

· NBC has pre-upfront pick-up fever, renewing the critically beloved, but anemically rated, Friday Night Lights for a second season. ("First be best, then be first" is the Peacock motto stitched into a throw pillow on Kevin Reilly's couch.) Also making the schedule: new dramas The Bionic Woman, Chuck, Journeyman and Life. [Variety]
· Barry Sonnenfeld is in talks to direct supernatural adventure The Box for Fox, prompting the best headline of the morning: "Sonnenfeld Ponders Fox's 'Box'." Can't wait for "Barry All Up Inside Fox's Box" when the deal closes. [THR]
· You already know all about Ari Emanuel's opinion of the Chris Albrecht ouster, but the industry's feelings on the matter remain complicated. Recovering addict/friend/Deadwood producer David Milch says Time Warner did the right thing even if they were just afraid of the bad press: "All these people saying the corporation should have forgiven him, what they're really saying is the corporation should have kept him sick."[Variety]
· Forgiving the franchise for its later floppy-eared, jive-talking transgressions against their craft, The Visual Effects Society recognizes Star Wars as having the most influential special effects of all time. [THR]
· Var boldly predicts that Spider-Man 3 will crush new competition Georgia Rule and 28 Weeks Later, but does note Spidey's fallen off the record-setting pace of last summer's Pirates sequel.. [Variety]

NBC Gives You A Chance To Say A Proper Goodbye To Matt, Danny, Jordan, And Lobster Boy

mark · 04/27/07 08:01PM

NBC's website quietly brings good—nay, great, shout-Huzzah!-to-the-heavens-and-slaughter-the-fatted-calf—news to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip's legion of affluent, upscale, and long-suffering fans: The show will return to the airwaves on Thursday, May 24, presumably to burn off the remainder of its first-season episodes, just one day after the end of May sweeps and a week after the network is expected to announce a Sorkin-free Fall lineup at the upfronts. Of course, maverick NBC president Kevin Reilly could shock the world by taking the stage in NY and announcing he's giving the show another 22 episodes, explaining to a room full of disbelieving advertisers, "Come on, it's Aaron Fucking Sorkin! He made The West Wing! I know this sounds crazy now, but If you'd read his breakdown for the second season, where Matt and Danny decide to run in the presidential primary against Obama and Hillary, you'd understand. It's going to work this time, I can really feel it."

'30 Rock' Finally Vanquishes 'Studio 60'

mark · 04/04/07 02:53PM

From the very moment that NBC controversially decided to greenlight two different series (one hourlong, one a half-hour) set behind the scenes at an SNLesque sketch comedy show and named for the numbered structures (one fictional, one real) in which they were produced, the fates of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and 30 Rock (one disappointing, one vastly superior) were inextricably linked. With Studio 60 indefinitely yanked from the airwaves and creator Aaron Sorkin failing thus far to live up his billing as Peacock Messiah (or even to a lesser, personal mission as Redeemer of a Debauched Medium), the network is now placing its sketch-comedy-related hopes for eventual Nielsen salvation in 30 Rock's Tina Fey, reports Var:

Trade Round-Up: Bart Plans Trip To Next 'Viking Quest' Convention

mark · 03/23/07 02:22PM

· After stumbling upon some screeners for its new season, Var's Peter Bart finally discovers The Entourage, which he believes pampers Hollywood's sexy underbelly but neglects the stepchildren. [Variety]
· Starz is suing Disney because it believes that offering its movies for download at places like iTunes and violates their distribution rights, an internet-related legal action that refreshingly does not involve YouTube. (We think?) [THR]
· In a development that all entertainment news outlets will be contractually obligated to refer to as a "Titanic Reunion," Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio will star in a Sam Mendes-directed DreamWorks adaptation of Revolutionary Road, the grandaddy of all suburban angst novels. [Variety]
· While pitching media buyers on his ongoing turnaround plan for his fourth-place network, NBC president Kevin Reilly expresses hope that beloved-but-low-rated series Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock will evolve into this generation's St. Elsewhere and Cheers. However, he had no historical comparison for breakout hit Deal or No Deal, as the brain-smoothing innovations of reality television had not yet arrived to make viewers stupid enough to watch people shouting at briefcases back in the 80s. [THR]
· Grey's Anatomy is still huge on Thursday nights, while Are You Dumber Than This 10-Year-Old We Plucked From A Special-Ed Class? seems to be sliding in popularity. [Variety]

Trade Round-Up: Russell Crowe Set To Go Mad With Directorial Power

mark · 03/22/07 02:40PM

· Famously temperamental thespian Russell Crowe will make his directorial debut on a feature adaptation of the documentary Bra Boys, about three brothers who started an underground surf movement in Sydney, during which the novice helmer will learn precisely how much damage a hurled megaphone can do to a mouthy PA's skull. Imagine's Brian Grazer to superproduce. [Ed.note—Since an update to this morning's Grazergate story is possible at some point today, we're forced to spare you the headshot at this time due to image bandwidth issues that could arise from its repeated posting.] [Variety]
· News Corp. and NBC Universal announce that they will partner with Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL to create a copyright-friendly online video distribution system that will crush the YouTubes. "A game changer!" cackles News Corp. CEO Peter Chernin while high-fiving colleague Jeff Zucker of NBCU, giddy over the untold millions of shareholder dollars they'll spend on an ultimately inferior product. [THR]
· Emboldened by the success of series like Heroes and Deal or No Deal, NBC president Kevin Reilly is confident he'll get more respect in today's meeting with media buyers than he did a year ago, when he was subjected to a humiliating round of wedgies, swirlies, and "Kick Me! My Networks Sux!" signs taped to his back by bullies whose money he was desperate to take. [Variety]
· Jet Li is in negotiations to play the bad guy in the China-set, totally unnecessary third The Mummy movie. [THR]
· The West Coast-based Academy of TV Arts & Sciences (the organization behind the Real Emmys) and East-Coasted National Academy of TV Arts & Sciences (who handle the Daytime, or Fake, Emmys) are at war! At issue: some profoundly boring shit involving who gets to give out broadband awards no one will care about for 10 years. [Variety]

Media Bubble: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

abalk2 · 03/02/07 08:29AM
  • Bonnie Fuller is allegedly "reaching out to Hachette Filipacchi and to" There are the usual denials all around, but we think if anyone can revive Shock, it's Bonnie "Bon Temps" Fuller. [NYP]

'Studio 60' CancellationWatch Renewed: Early Yanking Can't Be A Good Sign

mark · 02/14/07 02:29PM

This morning brings ominous news for Studio 60's legion of upscale, affluent, and Nielsen-confounding, TiVo-time-shifting fans: Variety reports that NBC is moving up by a week its previously announced indefinite yanking of the series following the show's worst ratings to date, handing over its juicy, post-Heroes Monday night timeslot to [pause for reflexive tightening of the sphincter] Paul Haggis' The Black Donnellys on February 26th. Says Var:

Trade Round-Up: NBC Madness!

mark · 02/05/07 02:50PM

· NBC will hand over Aaron Sorkin's 10 p.m. Monday night Studio 60 timeslot to Paul Haggis' drama The Black Donnellys starting on March 5, hoping that the heavy-handed, fender-bender-loving double Oscar winner's new series will hang on to some of hit lead-in Heroes' viewers, but promises that S60 will return to their airwaves at an unspecified date. Also: 30 Rock's slot is being temporarily donated to the Conan O'Brien/Andy Richter midseason comedy Andy Barker, PI, but will be back on April 19th. [Variety]
· In case you haven't heard: Jeff Zucker's getting a nice little promotion over at NBCU 2.0. [Variety, THR]
· And in other NBC front-office news, NBC Entertainment president/scene-stealing The Office dayplayer Kevin Reilly is looking like a good bet to have his expiring contract renewed. (Actually, a very good bet, as the WSJ just reported [sub. req'd.] he's been given a new contract.) [Variety]
· Super Bowl XLI's ratings are "great but not spectacular." We suspect that the event's failure to reach "spectacular" levels was due to intense competition from the far more compelling Puppy Bowl III on Animal Planet. [THR]
· Apple (computers) and Apple Corps. (The Beatles) settle the legal dispute over their shared name, allowing for the possibility that Beatles songs might one day be hawked on iTunes. [Variety]

Great Moments In Network Exec Sitcom Cameos: Kevin Reilly On 'The Office'

mark · 01/19/07 01:18PM

Blink and you may have missed him, but that was indeed NBC president Kevin Reilly making a quick cameo on last night's episode of The Office, flexing his programming-executive-level acting jobs by effectively communicating his confusion at Dwight's multiple resumes without a single line of dialogue. While brief, the promising appearance could lead to a bigger role on future shows now that Reilly's proven his chops to the producers; don't be surprised to see the aspiring thespian return later in the season, offering another wordless performance to rival the scene-stealing turns achieved by the Staples MailMate shredder or his corporate parents' own Trivection Oven.

NBC's Kevin Reilly Just Waiting For This 'Idol' Hype To Blow Over

mark · 01/18/07 12:13PM

Network presidents tasked with counterprogramming American Idol's 37 million viewers (a job further complicated by the Mandatory 'Idol" Viewership Act For Citizens 18-34 just passed by the newly Democrat-controlled Congress under heavy lobbying by News Corp.) find themselves with precious few practical options for combating the Nielsen juggernaut; those brave enough to resist the easy out of simply scheduling two hours of test-patterns in their Idol-opposing timeslot and then splattering their brains on the windows of their corner offices really have only one reliable strategy for surviving their Sisyphean labor: burying their heads in the warm sands of total denial. TV Week's Critical Eye TCA blog notes how NBC's Kevin Reilly is dealing with the Idol problem:

Great Moments In Network Standards & Practices: The Uncensored 'Dick In A Box'

mark · 12/21/06 11:35AM

Just five days after SNL's "Dick in a Box" (variously and coyly referred to as "A Special Box," "Special Treat in a Box," and "A Special Christmas Box") debuted on the show and on the YouTubes, the NY Times delivers the inside scoop on how a brave consortium of late-night programming executives, lawyers, and NBC's highest-ranking officers decided to release an uncensored version of the liberally bleeped clip on the internet, allowing fans to remove any lingering doubts that the male sex organs being sneakily proffered to the delighted women in the video may have, in fact, been referred to as "cock(s) in a box," best network decency practices be (cautiously) damned. Reports the Times:

NBC's Jeff Zucker Sharpens Blade, Starts Thinking About A Trip To Burbank

mark · 11/29/06 11:27AM

Lately, when we see the words "restructuring," "reorganization," and "NBC Universal Television Group president Jeff Zucker" in close proximity in the same story, we brace ourselves for a lowball estimate of how many employees are going to be run head-first through a giant Staples MailMate shredder in the name of corporate streamlining. But instead of raising the spectre of layoffs, today's LAT article on possible changes at NBC 2.0's Burbank division discusses a scenario in which Zucker would "catapult" trusty cable TV lieutenant Jeff Gaspin, a man credited with the profitable queerification of Bravo, over current Aaron Sorkin-enabling entertainment president Kevin Reilly. Such a move would seem to raise the possibility that NBC might use that same trebuchet to launch Reilly over the Hollywood Hills, as adding a layer of supervision above an embattled executive is never exactly a vote of confidence. Reports the LAT:

Trade Round-Up: More Layoffs 2.0 Fun!

mark · 10/20/06 02:28PM

More on NBC's Layoffs 2.0: Corporate hatchetman Jeff Zucker says that the 700 pinkslips they're expected to hand out aren't some kind of punishment for Aaron Sorkin's inability to singlehandedly save their primetime schedule from fourth place. OK, he didn't mention Sorkin specifically, but we know what he was getting at. [Variety]
The Academy releases its list of the 61 countries that successfully submitted work for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, including first time entrant Kazakhstan—which will require its representative filmmakers to spend any acceptance speech time decrying the cultural inaccuracies contained in Borat. [THR]
Still more on Layoffs 2.0: NBC president Kevin Reilly thinks that the company's bold decision to fire a bunch of people may look "fairly drastic right now," but will seem "forward-thinking" once all of his competitors catch Downsizing Fever. [Variety]
· The Project Runway finale sets a Bravo ratings record "by a huge margin," topping the previous marks set by Runway's season premiere and a very special 2004 episode of Queer Eye in which Kian nearly came to blows with a homophobic fraternity brother who misunderstood what the makeover-specialist meant when he said, "Take off your shirt, it's time for your manscaping." [THR]
The Jim Henson company hires Ahmet Zappa to write a treatment for a Fraggle Rock feature film. We refuse to get excited until we hear that Dweezil is doing the music. [Variety]

Three Rumors About NBC Layoffs We've Read Today: A Round-Up

mark · 10/18/06 08:13PM

In the interest of paying some attention, warranted or not, to various rumors about NBC layoffs both "massive" and very targeted circulating on these internets, we present this very special round-up for discussion on your afternoon commute:

Dick Wolf: Anybody Who Says They Know Something Is On Drugs

mark · 10/18/06 12:54PM

With a background in advertising and roughly sixty-eight versions of his Law & Order franchise currently on the air, cops-and-lawyers-procedural brandmaster Dick Wolf is uniquely qualified to declare that anyone who thinks they know how commerce, emerging platforms, and traditional programming will intersect in the future is quite obviously hitting the pipe. Reports the WSJ:

Trade Round-Up: Fictional 'Studio 60' Rising, Actual 'Studio 60' Falling In Nielsens

mark · 10/03/06 03:18PM

20th Century Fox wins a bidding war for the rights to Moneyball author Michael Lewis' just-released football book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, his latest sport-related tome that a studio hopes to one day figure out how to make into a movie. [Variety]
The Bourne Ultimatum began shooting this week without a bad guy, but an offer has gone out to Gael Garcia Bernal. Should Universal not close a deal with Bernal and fail to find another acceptable antagonist, the story will be hastily rewritten to have Matt Damon battle only his inner demons. [THR]
While the fictional Studio 60 triumphantly added 9 percent to its promising premiere numbers and temporarily got monotone, constantly half-smiling network president Jordan McDeere off the hot seat, the real Studio 60 was down 17 percent in the key demo from last week and 30 percent from its first episode. NBC president Kevin Reilly is probably not kissing Aaron Sorkin on the cheeks and thanking him for saving his job quite yet. [Variety]
· Democratic governor hopeful Phil Angelides pledges his support for the entertainment industry, but makes the crucial miscalculation of not working in memorable quotes from his action film career at every opportunity. [THR]
· Fans of international film financing deals will find find their naughty parts pleasantly atingle as they read the details of the $300 million in funding Paramount has lined up —just try not to get up from your desk until the erection subsides, money nerd. [Variety]

NBC Chokes In Game Of Programming Chicken

Seth Abramovitch · 05/25/06 05:49PM

Having found himself in the unenviable position of having his peacock messiah, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, grabbed by its feathered neck and thrown into a Burbank back alley for a proposed cockfight with ABC's unstoppable Grey's Anatomy, NBC president Kevin Reilly has finally succumbed to the deadly game of network programming chicken, moving 60 from the Thursday at 9 p.m. slot to the more poultry-friendly waters of Mondays at 10 p.m.:

The Upfronts: Playing Thursday Night Chicken

mark · 05/18/06 02:35PM

When NBC's Kevin Reilly made a bold move in the chess match that is this week's fall schedule announcements at the upfronts by advancing his most beloved pawn, Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, into the 9 p.m. Thursday night slot, ABC's Steve McPherson responded by picking up his queen, Grey's Anatomy, and tossing it into Reilly's face. NBC hasn't officially retreated, but the LAT's Scott Collins blogs that some think that Reilly may ultimately concede the position to the competition: