The Celebrity Apprentice – now called The New Celebrity Apprentice and starring former politician Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of aspiring politician Donald Trump – is not on the fall schedule because of an “embarrassment of riches,” NBC Entertainment Group chairman Bob Greenblatt said this morning. Instead, it’s being held for use “between The Voice cycles that could use a big engine like this,” he told reporters on a phone news conference to walk them through the network’s primetime plans for the 2016-17 TV season.
“Apprentice performed well when we had it in January in the past, and the time period on Monday is heated up for reality fans by The Voice,” he elaborated. The network’s reality guru Paul Telegdy said the hold-off also allows NBC to market the show’s new season – and new star – during football season. Additionally, but not mentioned during the phone news conference, a January return would keep the reality competition series out of Donald Trump White House Race season.
The former The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice star has completely dominated the TV news cycle since announcing his GOP candidacy in the summer. Using his reality-TV savvy, Trump and his campaign have churned out one juicy storyline after another. Most recently, the airwaves and Internet were flooded with news of a Washington Post report about a 1991 recording of a Trump spokesman talking to People magazine about Trump’s busy sex life, only the guy sounded just like Trump. Even Schwarzenegger would have trouble competing with that.
For Friday nights, NBC has ordered 13 episodes of Grimm but left open the possibility of ordering more. Greenblatt said it’s a “tough” one, on which the network has gone back and forth with comedy, drama, news and reality. “We continue to try to figure out how to capture audience that night. We’ve done relatively well with Caught on Camera into Grimm into Dateline.”
As for Grimm’s slot, Greenblatt noted the show is heading to its sixth season and, “We have a couple of shows for midseason in the same supernatural/fantastical sweet spot.” They include Emerald City, a re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz, and Midnight, Texas, about a town that’s populated by vampires, witches, psychics, hit men and biker gangs, which Greenblatt noted is based on the books of True Blood author Charlaine Harris.
“We have other things in this genre that we’re excited about that could potentially go into Friday and we’ll see as the year unfolds,” Greenblatt forecast.
NBC’s entry into the Thursday NFL world has “worked out well,” said NBC’s scheduling chief Jeff Bader, because it’s “knocking out December.” NBC’s Thursday slate will have a “clean run of eight weeks” after which they will be off in December but back in January, which means the football package “is not very disruptive.” NBC this morning announced its fall Thursday lineup will kick off with returning comedy Superstore — which the network will stunt during the Summer Olympics — followed by Michael Schur’s new afterlife comedy The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, leading into returning Chicago Med and The Blacklist.
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