UPDATE MONDAY AM: NBC made a big headline at its upfront presentation today regarding Donald Trump who took the stage to deliver the news: “After getting so many calls from NBC executives, I’ve decided that I will continue onward with The Apprentice. I will not be running for president, as much as I wanted to,” he said. “This will be our 12th season. I love Celebrity Apprentice.” Just yesterday, NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said on a conference call that NBC was working on plans to replace Trump on The Apprentice should he decide to run. After Trump’s statement, which drew big applause from the audience of ad buyers, Greenblatt quipped, “Every network wants to make news at its upfront. Try topping that!” Over the past few months, Trump had been publicly flirting with the idea of running for President. At some point, he mulled announcing his final decision on the season finale of Celebrity Apprentice but then scrapped that idea.
SUNDAY: NBC had both Sunday Night Football and Celebrity Apprentice on its just-revealed schedule for next season despite the NFL football season being in limbo because of the current players lockout and Celebrity Apprentice star Donald Trump mulling a presidential bid. During a conference call today, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt expressed hope that both football and The Donald will be back but also said that the network is working on contingency plans if that doesn’t happen.
“Certainly we’re hoping that he will be back with us,” Greenblatt said of Trump. But if he isn’t, “we will bring the show back and have someone else at the head of the boardroom table. … (Celebrity Apprentice) is too strong a franchise for us not to consider that.” Greenblatt wouldn’t discuss whom they have in mind as a replacement for Trump, only saying that it would be someone who is “confident and galvanizing.”
As for Sunday Night Football, “we feel pretty good about where we are with the NFL and “pretty optimistic that football will be there,” Greenblatt said. “Worst-case scenario, (the season) will be delayed by a few weeks.” NBC is already working on “high-quality, live entertainment reality-type shows that would fill the gap,” Greenblatt said. He wouldn’t elaborate, only noting that they are “attention-getting big ideas” and that NBC will air the specials elsewhere on the schedule if there is no delay to the football season.
Other tidbits from the NBC call:
— Brian Williams‘ primetime newsmagazine is a go for midseason. Greenblatt described it as “fresh, relevant and enteraining.”
— Chelsea Handler will recur on her midseason comedy Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.
– Greenblatt confirmed my report that Mariska Hargitay has closed her deal to return to Law & Order: SVU and Chris Meloni is not signed yet. Greenblatt was confident that Meloni will be back on the show. He also confirmed that the show indeed will introduce a new female detective on the show, a role Jennifer Love Hewitt is being considered for. “We just want to keep refreshing an old franchise,” Greenblatt said. Hargitay, who recently adopted a baby, had asked for a lighter work schedule, so her character will be less prominent in the second half of next season. “We’re not sure if Mariska will stay beyond this season as she may want to be be with her child, so we’re looking at options,” Greenblatt said.