'Pedro and Maria' will be the cable network's first telenovela, and its first truly interactive scripted series that will allow viewers to vote via Facebook and Twitter on the storyline. Ferrera is developing the bilingual Romeo and Juliet-esque series alongside Tony winner Quiara Alegria Hudes ('In the Heights').
- Laurence Fishburne's character of Dr. Langston on CSI will assume a more take-charge position this year, he'll also be given a "wardrobe makeover" so he seems, as Tassler put it "more comfortable in his own clothes."
- Jorja Fox will be back for the first five episodes. And one of the main characters will get promoted. I won't spoil it for you, but you can probably figure out who it might be.
- A new Let's Make A Deal with Wayne Brady as host, will be taking the place of Guiding Light. Tassler wouldn't go so far as saying this is a trend towards the return of daytime network game shows, but she did say she wanted to get a new LMAD on the air for a while.
- No plans to bring back Flashpoint right now, though they can. More Canadian cross-production deals on the way, including The Bridge.
- On NBC's late-night / Leno strategies: "Whatever numbers they get, they'll declare victory anyway, so it doesn't matter."
- On the departure of Ben Silverman of NBC: "I'm really just a D-girl, so I wouldn't comment."
Ben Silverman has made some significant contributions to the Peacock Network, most notably with the smash cult hit The Office, a show that wouldn't have even had a second season if people like Silverman weren't willing to give it a chance to grow.
Overall, however, NBC is in the dumper. And this is from a network that used to dominate free TV in almost every single category, from comedies to dramas to the newly mutated drama-comedies or dramadies. These days, "comas" is a more appropriate term.
John Scott Lewinski did a bang-up job of covering the Con for us; now I'm off to L.A. for the press tour. This summer, the tour will take place at the lovely Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, where cable, PBS, and the broadcast networks will parade their new and returning shows in front of critics and writers for almost two weeks. There will also be set visits and a few other fun things going on.
As I've done in the past, I'll try my best to give you the entire picture: dispatches from the panels, one-on-one interviews, executive tap-dancing, and more. I'll also be tweeting away on TV Squad's Twitter feed, so be sure to look there for the most up-to-the-minute news.
Cable executive Jeff Gaspin will take over as chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment "effective immediately," according to the Wall Street Journal. Gaspin will also control NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, in addition to his previous jobs.
Silverman's former colleague, Marc Graboff, will continue to serve as co-chairman, but will now report to Gaspin.
A lot of people are going to rejoice over this news because they think that NBC hasn't been the same since he took over the entertainment department at the network. While he did bring The Office and The Biggest Loser to NBC, a lot of viewers have been confused by other moves at the network. Another show that Silverman had a hand in, The Jay Leno Show, will debut in September. We'll have to see how that goes.
While they haven't yet made an announcement about other on-the-bubble shows, including Medium, Law & Order, and of course, Chuck, NBC's Ben Silverman has confirmed that Life has indeed been canceled. Life is just the latest victim of the Writers' Strike curse: ABC's Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money are among some of the other series that had their freshman seasons interrupted by the strike that began in November of 07, and won't live to see a third season.
Other second season shows, including the aforementioned Chuck, along with ABC's Samantha Who? and FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles are currently on the bubble. The CW's Gossip Girl is one of the few shows that premiered during the 07-08 season that is definitely going to make it to the 09-10 one.
The strike spooked the networks and advertisers, and we're obviously feeling the effects now, over a year after it ended. What it boils down to is a lot of great shows are suffering-- and Ben Silverman is a dick.
The species known as the network executive (networkitus executivus) is unique in the world of nature. Seemingly human in stature and characterization, the network executive is unusual in the sense that its brain is seated firmly in its tushie region. As this area of the executive's body gets the least amount of blood during an average day this leads to some very strange programming decisions. Thus, the reason that viewers were entertained by Cop Rock, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? and that sitcom that starred Emeril.
This lack of blood also causes memory loss. At least, that's what I believe it does because it's the only way I could think of that NBC would hire Ben Silverman to co-chair the entertainment division. Or, rather, hire another man named Silverman to help program their primetime schedule. For, if their memories were working properly, they would have realized that another man with the last name of Silverman came to the NBC 30 years ago and proceeded to muck everything up as well.
I was looking at my last two Festivus wish lists in an attempt to determine if any of my requests came true. Turns out, many of them did come to fruition -- something that I'm damn proud of. Sadly, a new sitcom for Dustin "Screech" Diamond did not materialize. Oh well, maybe that will occur sometime next season when, after coming out of a trance, the NBC executives realize they made a terrible mistake putting Jay Leno on at 10:00 pm and need something to fill the empty space.
Now, without further ado, let me put down the aluminum rod for a bit and talk about my Festivus wish list for the upcoming year.
This is a great opportunity to get a little Scrooge-y and vent about what I want to see corrected/improved/altered in TV in 2009. Is it wrong that I hope the bigwigs at the networks and cable companies are surfing the net and take my grievances to heart? Is it wrong that I still believe they care about what viewers think? Yeah, probably, but here's my wish list anyway:
That said, the news today that NBC has given Knight Rider a full season order leaves me cold. That's an order for nine more episodes, and it strikes me as throwing good money after bad. Knight Rider has been struggling in the ratings and generally dissed by the critics. It hasn't earned a pick up to be perfectly frank.
So why would NBC give this remake of the 1980's action drama a vote of confidence? Well, it could be that it's considered one of NBC programming chief Ben Silverman's pet projects.
The term is called a "back-nine" order, which means that the adventures of a geek-turned-reluctant super spy, will be on NBC for all of 2008-09. The vagaries of the demographics and Nielsens notwithstanding, NBC is betting on Chuck.
The comedy-adventure is entering its sophomore season, returning on Monday, September 29, at 8 E.T. Apparently, the powers-that-be at NBC -- Ben Silverman -- have liked the shows that are currently in the can.
Assuming they're right, Chuck will pick up right where it left off last year with sharp characters, funny stories and the right blend of action and laughs. It's not an easy mix, although when it works -- like Chuck and Burn Notice -- it makes for terrific TV.
This version is going to be a new take on the old story of a man who sets sail from England, his ship is wrecked in a storm and he's thrown overboard winding up alone on a deserted island where he has to fen for himself. In time, he is joined by an escaped slave whom he names Friday. Ben Silverman, NBC's head honcho, described the proposed series in this way: "It's part MacGyver, part contemporary morality tale about race and personal discovery, part comedy and part Castaway meets Survivor." As envisioned, this Robinson Crusoe will need to be clever indeed. It's going to keep the time period 1650's, but when Crusoe finds Friday, he'll presumably be treating him as if it were today with regard to race relations.
About 8 million viewers tune in weekly to watch geek-turned-secret-agent Chuck Bartowski solve crimes with his two handlers and to witness Detective Crews solve cases after sering time in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
Production of one of the more highly anticipated shows on the NBC schedule, Heroes: Origins, has been put on hold. Apparently, due to fears of a pending writers' strike. Or, maybe not.
According to The Hollywood Reporter the Heroes spin-off will not be receiving its six-episode run, which was to begin in April of 2008. While NBC hasn't officially said that the series is canceled producers have not been given a date when it would be put on the schedule. During the network upfronts held last May it was mentioned that Origins would be spelling its older sibling during a late-season hiatus.
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