NBC Won’t Cut Back on Pilots, Bromstad Says

Jan 15, 2009  •  Post A Comment

New NBC Entertainment President Angela Bromstad said Thursday that the network won’t let the economy—or the pending loss of five hours of prime-time real estate to Jay Leno—affect its development process.
“We’re not going to cut back our development spending,” Ms. Bromstad told reporters in her first in-person press conference since taking over the reins at the division, on Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour. “It’s not wise for us to cut back our R&D. We’ll be making the same amount of pilots.”
Ms. Bromstad later said she’s been talking to agents and showrunners in private meetings to get across the message that NBC remains very much dedicated to scripted programming. She also emphasized that, while NBC won’t have as many timeslots for programming in the primetime Leno era, the network is mulling the idea of having multiple shows share the same timeslot.
Ms. Bromstad’s session with reporters came as NBC has faced a torrent of tough coverage about its recent executive changes, its poor primetime performance and the decision to replace its 10 p.m. dramas with Mr. Leno. Some reporters expressed frustration that the architects of those changes, NBC Entertainment Co-Chairmen Marc Graboff and Ben Silverman, were not on stage answering questions.
“We’re here to talk about TV shows rather than executive changes,” replied Paul Telegdy, NBC’s new executive vice president of alternative programming, who shared the stage with Ms. Bromstad.
On that matter, Ms. Bromstad was asked repeatedly to clarify her programming tastes and to declare whether the network would put a priority on quality or business models when developing shows.
“We live in a world where we have to have both,” she said. “We have to have the quality and we have to have the ratings. … I don’t think there are any writers or agents or people on my team who don’t know what my tastes are.”
Ms. Bromstad opened her session with a flurry of announcements, including early renewals for three key NBC series. Left off the list of pickups, however, was “Heroes,” raising questions about the show’s long-term future.
“‘Heroes’ is very secure,” Ms. Bromstad insisted. “We have a great relationship with [creator] Tim Kring.”
Ms. Bromstad also offered a vote of confidence in second-year dramedy “Chuck,” which is also on the bubble for a third season.
“I love ‘Chuck,'” she said. “I think it’s a very fun show. It’s going to face a lot of competition in the spring. (But) it’s a show we’ll be looking at when we make our decisions this spring.”
Ms. Bromstad said NBC is anxious to get “Kings,” “Southland” and, possibly, “The Philanthropist” on the air this spring so that it has as many options as possible available to it come scheduling time in May.

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