NBC executive session: Leno, Office spin-off, and infronts - TCA Report
by Joel Keller, posted Jul 22nd 2008 12:01PM
Just to be complete, I wanted to go over a few more tidbits from the NBC executive session with entertainment co-chiefs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff. We already know about Leno copying Kimmel, and the late night news that came out of it, and we already know about the non-spin-off and the actual spin-off for The Office. But what else did they talk about?
- Life will get two Monday night showings, starting on September 29 at 10 PM ET, which will allow them to premiere Christian Slater's My Own Worst Enemy on October 13, and run it straight through December. Silverman called having that show after Chuck and Heroes a kind of a "male Heroes sandwich."
- As previously announced, 30 Rock will continue in the Thursday 9:30 slot; it was originally going to air at 9 this season.
- Graboff announced that the network will be doing another "infront" next spring. This past spring, the network introduced their entire 52-week schedule to advertisers early, before the other networks (hence the name "infront"), and according to Graboff, "The feedback was tremendous from them, overwhelmingly positive, and it actually led to a very successful Upfront for NBC."
- After the Leno shenanigans, a critic said, "That was all very much fun and nice, but what's going to happen later on this year when Leno goes to ABC and kicks Conan's ass?" Silverman's response was that the network has gone through a lot of transitions, from Today to the Nightly News, and it seems to be adept at doing these things. "But we really believe in the decisions we've made with our partners including Jay, and we'll really be standing by them because we love the talent we have on NBC and we love the franchise that we have on NBC and we think there's opportunity for a lot of great talent to play."
- Graboff said that Leno felt his quotes from USA Today, where he said that he's done with the network, were taken out of context. "When we made the deal with Jay four years ago, we made a long-term deal with him," said Graboff. "We've been talking to him for pretty much that whole time about the future beyond The Tonight Show. We can't force him to do something. We're presenting him with a number of opportunities that we think would be great. We're hoping he eventually thinks that they'll be as great as well."
- Silverman thinks that the network may have "activated" too much product-placement in the Knight Rider movie. "But the star of the show is the car, so that was a case where it felt like low-hanging fruit to bring in an automotive partner on a certain level, because you know they're going to be part of that show no matter how you look at it." The contest ads during the commercial breaks, he cited, were probably what was the tipping point there. I dunno; I thought it was the fact that every car in the KR universe was a Ford.
- A reporter commented on the banner ads for Universal movies that pop up on the bottom third of the screen during dramatic moments in series, and Silverman seemed to be amenable to changing that, though he didn't say he'd eliminate them. He first saw them on TNT, promoting Damages, and asked his ad team to see what they could do to emulate those ads. "And also, if you watch, as I do, a lot of cable sports and cable news, those screens are constantly moving. And anyone who's on a computer now -- so there was an element of "can we shift and kind of have a more dynamic screen?" And I think it's horses for courses. You probably can do it during a game show. You probably don't want to do it during a horror hour. So I think we need to kind of find the rhythm of that, and we're experimenting and evolving."