UPDATED: NBC is giving new comedy series Up All Night and Whitney a major vote of confidence with early full-season pickups. Meanwhile, as we indicated in the ratings story earlier this morning, low-rated new drama The Playboy Club has become the first new series to be canceled this fall. The 1960s drama is being pulled from the schedule effective immediately and will be replaced by Brian Williams’ new primetime newsmagazine, Rock Center With Brian Williams, which will premiere October 31. For the next three weeks, NBC will air repeats of its other struggling new drama, the well-received Prime Suspect, in the Monday 10 PM hour for additional sampling, while keeping originals on Thursday. “We made comedy an important goal for us this season and I’m very pleased to be making full-season commitments to both Whitney and Up All Night,” NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “We’re thrilled with the creative direction of both shows as well as the potential for them to continue to build loyal audiences over the coming months.”
While not breakout hits of the size of Fox’s New Girl or CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, Up All Night and Whitney have been solid in their first couple of weeks, especially compared to the performance of NBC’s new drama series. The pickup of Whitney, which will be joined shortly by a full-season order for 2 Broke Girls at CBS, will give Whitney Cummings, who created and stars in Whitney and co-created 2 Broke Girls, two successful new shows this fall. As for Playboy, the series was expected to get the ax last week after its low-rated premiere was followed by a Week 2 decline, but Greenblatt gave the period drama another shot. Unfortunately, the series dropped again last night to a 1.2 demo rating despite its lead-in actually improving a bit.
Rock Center, originally targeted for midseason, marks the first new NBC News primetime program launch in nearly 20 years. Joining Williams on the show are Harry Smith, Kate Snow and NBC News’ Meredith Vieira, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Richard Engel, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry. “Smart, original and occasionally irreverent, we hope it will become a destination for viewers looking for something special,” NBC News president Steve Capus said.