NBC Unveils 2011-2012 Primetime Schedule

Saturday Night Live‘s Seth Meyers kicked off the NBC upfront presentation with a special edition of “Weekend Update. He poked fun at his employer NBC as well as other nets. “The Comcast-NBC Universal merger was approved in January. I have to say things are better already. Seriously, I have to say that.” Also…

– “Meredith Vieira announced she was retiring from the Today Show. She plans to spend her retirement drinking and spending time with friends, also known as the 4th hour of Today.”

– “Larry King, Jim Lehrer and Regis Philbin all recently announced their retirement. On the downside, their shows are in flux. On the upside, CBS gained 3 new viewers.”

NBC Broadcast chairman Ted Harbert used his intro to heap praise on new NBCU owner Comcast and on his fellow chairman Bob Greenblatt whom he called a “triple threat.” Then Greenblatt spoke. “I was quite happy in the bullet-proofed world of Showtime where you don’t care about ratings or advertisers,” Greenblatt said. “I did more pilots in 3 months than I did in 7 years at Showtime.” He evoked God twice in the first 5 minutes of his speech, both times in reference to the network’s breakout reality hit The Voice. “By the way, thank you God for The Voice,” he said. He later quoted NBC’s head of research Alan Wurtzel as calling The Voice “that rare gift from God.”

Greenblatt indirectly referenced the controversy surrounding new drama series The Playboy Club, which drew attention over its request for its actors to sign nudity clauses. “It’s more about the fun of the beginning of the 60s” and is quite tamer than MTV’s Jersey Shore, Greenblatt said. “It’s a sophisticated soap.” The show features music numbers by artists who performed at the original Playboy Club like young Tina Turner and Sammy Davis. Jr, explaining NBC’s decision to air the series after The Sing-Off.

He said that the final season of Chuck will “go back to its roots” and “will be closer to was it was in Season One.

Addressing late-night, Greenblatt singled out Jimmy Fallon. “We’re especially pleased with the growth of Jimmy Fallon,” he said. Fallon once again made an upfront appearance for a music ditty. “We’re really excited about our new shows, we want each of them to be an event… unlike The Event,” was his opening line, a reference to the canceled NBC freshman drama. He went on to serenade ad buyers with “Have a Comcastic day/Have a Comcastic night/Throw all your cash at these new shows/And everything will be all right/The Voice can’t be on every night.”

NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams came out to talk about his upcoming primetime newsmagazine, which he said “will be topical, will be on the news” with contributions from Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer, and Ann Curry.

While NBC highlighted all 12 of its new series, one received special treatment – new Broadway drama Smash, a pet project of Greenblatt from his days at Showtime. Despite launching in midseason, it was the first new series introduced to ad buyers by Greenblatt who also ended the new shows presentation with a clip from the Smash pilot.

Speaking of bookmarking the event, NBC brass opened it by singing praises to The Voice and closed it off by a performance by singer and judge Christina Aguilera.