NBC Pickups Announced


"Chuck" obsessives: Sorry, but you're going to have to keep chowing down on Subway foot-longs for at least another week.

On the other hand, fans of the flick "Parenthood" can stop donating diapers to Octomom -- or whatever grassroots campaign it is you've launched to try to convince NBC suits to pick up the flick's series adaptation, because it's a done deal. NBC announced some -- but not all -- of the new and returning series the network has ordered for next season; NBC suits will officially unveil them to advertisers this afternoon at 30 Rock HQ.

Also ordered: Two doc-dramas to try to take the place of "ER": NBC's "Trauma," about a first-response unit out on the streets, and hospital drama "Mercy." NBC also picked up the drama "Day One," though that will air as a limited-run event.

NBC also had greenlit new comedies "Community" and "100 Questions." "Community" is like Friends, only at a community college. "100 Questions" is like "Friends," only if Rachel had used an online dating service.

Also getting the thumbs up: Amy Poehler's not-"The Office"-spinoff "Parks and Recreation" and John Well's new "Southland," which has gotten off to a respectable start in the Thursday 10 p.m. hour since the demise of "ER." "Heroes" made the cut, as did another run for "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update" half hour shows for Thursday night. NBC had luck with that franchise last fall, but it was an election year, when interest is always high in "SNL," and this year, of course, is not.

"Can you imagine what the show could do with the swine flu?" NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman waxed, undaunted, in NBC's programming announcement.

And, let's not forget NBC had already committed to picking up comedies "The Office" and "30 Rock" for next season, as well as "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Friday Night Lights," "The Biggest Loser" and "Celebrity Apprentice."

Missing from the list are contenders "Chuck," "Kath & Kim," "My Name is Earl," "Medium," "Life," and "Law & Order: The Mothership."

But don't give up on "Chuck," Patricia Arquette starrer "Medium," or "L&O:TMS" because talks are ongoing.

"Earl," on the other hand, may be a goner, now that those "SNL" faux-news bits have been ordered. And we don't hold out much hope -- okay, any hope -- for "K&K."

NBC gave up on the idea of announcing all of the new and returning show pickups for next season at this afternoon's so-called "in-front" presentation.

Last year at this time, NBC debuted its "in-front" concept -- as in "look at how far out in front of the broadcast competition we are," which, you gotta give them credit, is pretty cheeky for a fourth-placed network. The other broadcasters unveiled their new primetime slates to advertisers in mid-May at an annual orgy of excess known as Broadcast Upfront Week, like God intended.They will do so again this month, the week of May 18.

NBC got way out "in front" last season by foregoing the whole pilot-making process -- so 1990, they said -- and ordering straight from we-like-the-scripts to series.

Been keeping an eye on NBC's freshman series performance this season? "Kings?" "My Own Worst Enemy?" The aforementioned "Kath & Kim?" Then you know the whole "we don't need no stinking pilots" thing did not go so well. So NBC is back to making pilots. Which, they're learning all over again, takes a lot longer than when you don't order pilots.

So, this time around, NBC has announced some, but not all of its picked up series -- and no actual primetime schedule.

NBC says it plans to unveil the rest of the pickups, and its actual 2009-10 primetime slate -- you know how this is going to end -- during Broadcast Upfront Week.

Network suits are also expected to wax enthusiastic about Jay Leno, who gave NBC suits a heart attack last week when he bailed on "Tonight Show" for the first time in 17 years and checked himself into a hospital for observation, missing two nights of broadcast during the May sweep. What with Leno taking over NBC's 10 p.m. timeslot Monday through Friday, his health has become extremely important to NBC's bottom line. Depending on your source, Leno had a) gotten food poisoning, b) caught cold while driving to NBC's Burbank HQ from somewhere near the Bob Hope airport early that morning in one of his vintage convertibles while not wearing a coat (we checked with the national weather service for the temp in Burbank that morning -- it was 58 degrees at midnight), or c) something else totally not serious.

Leno's new show already made news when the network's Boston station issued a "no thanks" on its web site and said it would run local news at 10. Much lawyer talk ensued and the station backed down, though sources say NBC and Leno are working with stations in re the format of the show in hopes it doesn't flame out in the final 30 minutes leading into the stations' local newscasts. "Tonight Show's" numbers drop noticeably after Leno's opening monologue.

Though NBC will not announce its fall slate today, figuring out the basics isn't rocket science, now that the 10 p.m. hour is otherwise occupied by Leno and NBC programs for margins, not ratings:

Monday: Young-skewing drama night ("Heroes").

Tuesday: "The Biggest Loser" night.

Wednesday: "Law & Order" franchise night.

Thursday: four comedy night.

Friday: low-cost low-expectation night.

Saturday: Rerun Theater.

Sunday: Football.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  May 4, 2009; 12:34 PM ET Add category
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"Limited run" sounds more like British 8 episode "series" - but no guarantee that NBC can even go that distance (see "Kings"). Near future/post apocalyptic shows ("Jericho") have not fared well on network. Wonder why they are bothering? Leno didn't want to do a two hour extended version?

Posted by: jqw3827 | May 4, 2009 5:44 PM

Lisa's number one pet peeve is product placement. My number one pet is actually the opposite.
I hate it when I am watching a tv show or movie and the actors go to by a softdrink from the "Cola" machine. Or they want something to eat and "Burgerhouse" burgers are purchased. Completely ruins the illusion that these are real people and not just actors.
If they show a Pepsi machine or get burgers from McDonalds, (or subs from Subway), I much, much prefer that.

Posted by: Iowahoosier | May 8, 2009 2:33 PM

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