NBC has clawed its way back to first place in 18-49, but entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt knows the network has two big problems to fix if it wants to remain on top: addressing its comedy woes, and restoring luster to Thursday night, the onetime home of Must-See TV. As I wrote at Adweek,
While the refocus on comedy will take months or years to bear fruit, NBC is taking more immediate steps to save Thursdays, which “used to be the big night of television for NBC,” Greenblatt said. “It’s an important night for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is it is a great, desirable night for advertising.”
But the network has languished on the night with low-rated, quickly canceled comedies like The Michael J. Fox Show and this season’s Bad Judge and A to Z. “Putting comedies we love there and having them fail started to feel like the definition of insanity,” said entertainment president Jennifer Salke.
Instead, Greenblatt is making a bold but perilous gamble, moving his biggest scripted series, The Blacklist, to Thursdays at 9 p.m., where it will face-off against Scandal on ABC beginning Feb. 5. “It’s a risky but necessary move for us to make,” said Greeblatt, who pointed to other big Thursday-night shifts that seemed potentially disastrous at the time but paid off, including Fox’s The Simpsons, CBS’ CSI and most recently Grey’s Anatomy, which laid the groundwork for ABC’s TGIT.
Greenblatt also talked about his big development deal with Dolly Parton, getting out of his big development deal with Bill Cosby and which two shows are in contention for NBC’s next live musical broadcast this December.
It’s not easy breaking exclusive news when you’re alongside 200 TV journalists at press tour, but it can be done. While researching my Adweek story on the launch of Pop, I noticed that a retrospective on The Cosby Show, announced last October as part of Pop’s initial slate, had quietly been dropped from the lineup. Brad Schwartz, Pop’s president of entertainment and media, explained his decision to place the episode on “permanent pause”:
“With everything going on, why do you need to run it?” said Schwartz, whose rebranded channel, Pop, celebrates “enthusiastic fandom,” which is pretty much the opposite of how most audiences now feel about Cosby. “I’m not going to pass judgment or make a decision on who’s right and wrong, but it was a very easy decision for us to say, ‘Let’s not air it.'”
The marks at least the fourth Cosby-related program to be taken off the air in the wake of Bill Cosby’s scandal. I also asked Schwartz, who had previously pulled 7th Heaven off TV Guide Network in response to the Stephen Collins child molestation allegations, if there are any circumstances under which the show will air. You’ll have to read what he told me.
The network presidents spent much of 2014 bragging about, and defending, their various programming and scheduling decisions, no matter how foolish some of them turned out.
But some of those proclamations were so outrageous that they earned a well-deserved spot on this list of the 10 most ridiculous statements network presidents made this year. (I wanted to call this their “10 Biggest Lies of 2014,” but they actually believed at least some of these things to be true at the time they said them.)
From “Mulaney is the next Seinfeld!” to “We love Bill Cosby, and his troubles will sort themselves out,” see how many of your favorites made the list. And if you think Kevin Reilly, who stepped down as Fox entertainment chairman in May, is going to figure prominently … you would be correct.
I always have a blast pulling together the #TBT promos for Adweek, but this week’s entry was particularly entertaining, as I delved into the “Come Home to NBC” ‘80s promos back when NBC ruled the airwaves with The Cosby Show, Cheers and The Golden Girls. Here’s a one of the four promos I discuss, which is a must-see if only for the shot of Tom Brokaw wearing Bright. Yellow. Pants.
And much like everyone else who was partying hard in the ‘80s, NBC saw no end to its good fortune: “Where the magic never seems to end! Where the good times keep you coming back again.” (Well, at least until Jeff Zucker took over…)
All four promos are worth watching, including one that made the unfortunate choice to open with a shot of (yikes) Bill Cosby inviting you into his abode.
Once of the biggest head-scratchers during my many, many years at People was the shockingly muted reaction to what I thought was an incendiary investigative piece we published in 2006, speaking with five women who had accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. It was one of the rare times that we were going after a beloved celebrity, but after the story was published, everyone just seemed to shrug and move on, if they even noticed it at all.
So you could say that it took almost a decade for Cosby’s career to fall apart overnight. At Adweek, I look at how Cosby went from TV’s “most persuasive” pitchman, as he was known in his Cosby Show ’80s heyday, to its most radioactive one in the past week. As I wrote,
Putting the horrific allegations aside …. Cosby is in this predicament largely because he and his team demonstrated a surprising lack of media savvy for a performer who for decades has had audiences—and advertisers—in the palm of his hand.
Writing this story also gave me a chance to publicly credit the great Kate Aurthur from Buzzfeed, for almost single-handedly keeping this story afloat this year. Even if it took eight years after that People story, I’ve glad this is finally coming to light, and I’m shocked at how ill-prepared Cosby and his team have been to finally face the music.