NBC has signed a new major two-year overall deal with The Office executive producer Greg Daniels, co-creator/exec producer of another NBC comedy series, Parks and Recreation. NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the pact, which will encompass scripted live-action and animated programming as well as unscripted series, at the top of NBC’s TCA session today. “He is one of the founding fathers of our Thursday comedy lineup,” Greenblatt said. “We had a chance to work together at Fox when he was launching King of the Hill. The new deal is to develop all kinds of programming, but we also want to emphasize animation, I think he is going to do great things.” NBC also has inked a development pact with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Prods., marking the company’s first network pact. And former Will & Grace star Sean Hayes, who segued to producing over the past few years, has signed a development deal to headline a half-hour series. “Sean is a friend, and I think it’s time for him to star in a comedy again,” Greenblatt said.
On the development side, NBC is developing a firefighter drama from feature writers Michael Brandt and and Derek Haas, produced by Dick Wolf and his new development exec Danielle Gelber. Greenblatt also confirmed the deal for a karaoke bar comedy produced by The Voice star Adam Levine who may do a small part on the show. NBC will do a holiday variety special with Michael Buble, executive produced by former NBC chief Ben Silverman and Saturday Night Live honcho Lorne Michaels. The network also has ordered a reality pilot, Celebrity Game Night.
In other news from NBC’s executive session, Greenblatt said that Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay will be in every episode of the series this coming season, and “my goal is to make sure that continues beyond this season.”
Greenblatt also announced that the post-Super Bowl episode of The Voice on Feb. 5 will serve as the show’s second-season premiere. The talent show will take over its regular Monday 8-10 PM slot the following night, leading to the series premiere of Smash at 10 PM.
New comedy Up All Night starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph is being reworked, with Rudolph and Applegate’s workplace changed from a PR firm to a talk show. Rudolph will now play a “larger-than-life” talk show host, and Applegate her producer.
In terms of The Office post-Steve Carell, “My expectations are always very measured,” Greenblatt said. He said James Spader as Robert California, the new company CEO, “has a power to convince and manipulate, like a high-class weirdo Jedi warrior.” “He is completely different than Steve, with his own iconoclastic kind of acting style, and his character is very unique. He’s a perfect fit in that mix.”
Greenblatt said he was “optimistic” about the future of The Golden Globes on NBC, “at least for this coming year.” The awards show is now the subject of a bitter lawsuit between the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and long-time producer Dick Clark Prods.
As for his development, Greenblatt said he he wants to do “upscale original shows that I hope appeal to the audience” and “bring some of the creative vitality” he established at Showtime “to NBC for broader and more commercial” fare. Comedy is a priority. “Do more of them and transplant them from Thursday,” Greenblatt said. “And see if we can bring the respectability back to the multi-camera genre.”
Greenblatt, who buttered critics and reporters up before the session with a gift bag and a note welcoming them and asking them to “go easy on me”, took responsibility for NBC’s upcoming series, in whose development he said he was deeply involved. “It’s my schedule, for better or for worse,” he said.
Greenblatt’s overall goal for NBC? “My desire is to take this venerable institution and raise it back up.”