TCA: Early Launch For 2 NBC Series; NBC Brass Talk 'Office', Robert Greenblatt, Piers Morgan

At the top of NBC’s executive session, NBC Uni TV Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin announced that a couple of series will premiere early behind the final episodes of America’s Got Talent. The second season of Parenthood will launch on Sept. 14, after the second-to-last episode of Talent. New Friday drama Outlaw will get a sneak preview after the Wednesday finale of Talent.

Additionally, primetime entertainment president Angela Bromstad said the network has extended its production deal with Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44, which will now take over the NBC pilot for Prime Suspect, which the network plans to shoot off-cycle. Alexandra Cunningham (Desperate Housewives) is now writing the script for the adaptation of the iconic British series, which will be a 2-hour pilot. (Hank Steinberg was originally tapped as writer last development season) NBC also announced a development deal with Gladiator producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes.

Another piece of news, Rob Lowe will now be a regular on Parks & Recreation. And 30 Rock will do a live episode on Oct. 14, going back to the SNL roots of creator/star Tina Fey and frequents SNL host Alec Baldwin.

Gaspin, whose last TCA appearance came in the midst of the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno debacle in January, opened the NBC executive session by saying: “I’m happy to be at TCA under different circumstances than last time. I’d like to thank ABC for creating the headlines this time.”

Asked whether he or NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker or anyone else at the company has had any conversations with former Showtime entertainment president Robert Greenblatt about joining NBC, Gaspin’s answer was: “No, no, no, no, no. We haven’t had conversations.” Asked again if his bosses might have met with Greenblatt, he said “I have asked (them) and the answer was no.”

Bromstad was asked to address the plans for The Office post Steve Carell, who is leaving at the end of next season after playing the lead, boss Michael Scott, for the past 6 years.

“The Office producers have a plan for who is going to replace Michael, there is going to be some mystery leading up to who that might be, Bromstad said, adding after the panel that there will be internal and external candidates interviewed just like in any job search situation. Responding to suggestions that Carell has been such an integral part of The Office that it might be best to end the series at his exit, Bromstad fired back: “Would we have ended ER when George Clooney left? That would be a shame.”

After the session, Gaspin confirmed that the network has signed Talent judge Piers Morgan in a new 3-year deal and has allowed him to pursue a job at CNN as Larry King’s replacement. He confirmed that the setup would involve NBC and CNN sharing Morgan and admitted NBC got concessions in return but wouldn’t elaborate on specifics.

At the panel, Gaspin admitted that the network had made mistakes over the past several years. “We made too many changes too quickly from a position of weakness,” he said, noting that “we have a lot more stability at the network than we’ve had for quite some time.” Still, he plans to remain aggressive. “We’ve taken too few shots in the past, and we are not going to make that mistake again.”

Gaspin was asked about the eroding ratings for The Tonight Show after the return of host Jay Leno. He was prepared, pulling out a sheet with ratings data suggesting that both his ratings and David Letterman’s fluctuate. “I think it’s too early to make any proclamations about anything, and I’m not worried,” he said. Added Bromstad, “Hopefully we can improve the health of the prime time shows, and that will help Jay as well.”

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