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Reilly Deconstructs Schedule

May 14, 2007 1:56 PM

On the 52nd floor of the 30 Rock building, Entertainment President Kevin Reilly and other NBC executives walked reporters through the network's new fall schedule and elaborated on some of the key decisions:

-- Contrary to some reports, the network never seriously considered launching a second comedy block or moving “ER” off Thursdays. However, NBC is considering making the upcoming season the last one for the expensive “ER.” “[Showrunner] John Wells has always been in lock-step that this should go out strong,” Reilly says. “We’ve agreed to sit down with John sometime in October and figure out where we stand.”

-- Though “Bionic Woman” was strongly considered for the post-“Heroes” slot, “Journeyman” won the time period partly because the time-travel series tested higher than any NBC drama in five years, he says.

-- Even though it’s not on the fall schedule, “The Apprentice” isn’t officially dead, Reilly says. He’ll make a decision on whether it will return in a few weeks. Other shows left off the schedule -- such as “Real Wedding Crashers,” “Raines” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” -- are confirmed deceased.

-- A reporter asks Reilly (paraphrased): “Since you’re committed to renewing good shows even if they have low ratings, does that mean ‘Studio 60’ wasn’t a good show?” Nearly everybody -- including NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker -- finds this question funny. Reilly replies that “Studio 60” received “a mixed response,” even within NBC. Showrunner Aaron Sorkin “was doing the show he wanted to do. … It just kind of felt like that show had kind of run its course. … I have no regrets.”

-- The six-episode “Heroes: Origins” spin-off was created partly to help “Heroes” retain its momentum. The drama dropped sharply after going on a six-week hiatus this year. “Origins” will have a separate writing and producing team and (one presumes) a lower budget. The network hasn’t yet decided when the “Origins” episodes will be used. Filling a six-week hiatus is possible, but a more likely option is that “Heroes” will finish its run and “Origins” will air afterward. Either way, Reilly says, the goal is to have as few interruptions to “Heroes” as possible.

-- More series announcements are forthcoming. NBC just ordered two new pilots last week and another drama pilot pickup is coming soon, Reilly says. Also, NBC could increase the episode orders for one or two more series, joining super-sized orders for “Heroes,” “The Office” and “My Name Is Earl.”

-- Reilly agrees that the number of new shows coming on in the fall reflects a conservative strategy despite the network’s fourth-place ranking. “Networks on down cycles loading up on product isn’t necessarily a recipe for success.”

E-mail James Hibberd

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» Parumph’d: Saying Goodbye To ‘Studio 60′ at from
[...] As the TV upfronts are intended to be a weeklong celebration of possibility and hope, there is generally no place in a network’s presentation to advertisers to pause briefly and remember the once-beloved projects that won’t be going forward into the Fall season; accordingly, it took a reporter’s uncomfortable question to get NBC president Kevin Reilly to reflect upon the legacy of the newly euthanized Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, whose uncompromising, visionary showrunner was just one year ago anointed the savior of the last-place network. Notes the TV Week upfronts blog: A reporter asks Reilly (paraphrased): “Since you’re committed to renewing good shows even if they have low ratings, does that mean ‘Studio 60′ wasn’t a good show?” Nearly everybody — including NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker — finds this question funny. Reilly replies that “Studio 60″ received “a mixed response,” even within NBC. Showrunner Aaron Sorkin “was doing the show he wanted to do. … It just kind of felt like that show had kind of run its course. … I have no regrets.” [...] [Read More]

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