NBC In-Fronts: Ben Silverman loves advertising
On Monday (May 4) afternoon NBC -- aka the Jay Leno network -- sneak-peaked new shows which may or may not make it to air between now and mid-2010 before 65 people at 30 Rock, in Studio 8H, where Amy Poehler did two minutes of comedy, much of it in a faux swine flu mask to ward off the "monkey sniffles," and Donald Trump came to express his deep appreciation of brands.
"I love advertising," said a scrawny and tie-less Ben Silverman, whose fancy title is "co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios." He does! Also he was thrilled to report that "we also have no labor issues right now," which is true unless you count Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay, who may or may not get contracts for "Law & Order: SVU," which will go on with or without them.
They did a cute little recap of their returning shows, which began with that Emerson quote about how a day is a "miniature eternity" and boy did it feel that way. Silverman laughed out loud at Tina Fey in the clip, when she talked about how Thursdays are now about comedy but they used to be about medical procedures gone wrong.
The network has a new policy about comedy, in part because its new head of comedy was involved with the making of "30 Rock" and "The Office." That new policy, according to Silverman, is that "Patience with comedy pays off." This is a new idea! And it is a lucky one for Poehler.
Whoa, then Donald Trump came in a very pink tie and with his hair fairly flat but forehead-scooped a la Rod Blagojevich. Because yes, "Celebrity Apprentice" is coming back.
"Why do you think your show works so well with brands?" asked Silverman.
"Last night was Chicken of the Sea, you probably saw that," said Trump. "I just got a call from the president of Chicken of the Sea who I'd never met or heard from before and they were so happy. I mean we had a two hour show about chicken of the sea. And Kodak is sponsoring the live finale. They came back for more."
"I can't thank you enough, you exemplify what we do," said Silverman.
Trump left, to his theme music.
"This stuff kills with the advertisers!" said Silverman, and did a little dance.
Vivi Zigler, head of digital, came out and showed a chart that was labeled "OMG! NBC Mobile Hits Critical Mass!"
Then Ben Silverman came back and said that "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" is the "most buzzed-about show of the year."
There followed a super-vague presentation about reality shows. Which were:
"Who Do You Think You Are?" -- Profiles of people like Spike Lee and Sarah Jessica Parker? Wha? Is this Trio? Perhaps it will be like an Us Weekly version of Trio.
"The Marriage Ref" -- Executive-produced by Jerry Seinfeld, people complain about their marriages and people talk about that.
Then there was scripted shows and there were actually some good-looking things ... sort of
"Trauma" -- Two hot chicks and four hot guys in which things blow up constantly in San Francisco and one of the hot guys wears sunglasses and pilots a helicopter. There is a black guy too. Basically you could have pitched this show as "something bad happens every week and people patch people up while someone cries" but they were too lazy.
"Community" -- We all like "The Soup" and that Joel McHale who is upon it. But, do we want to see him in a show about getting disbarred and going to community college with Chevy Chase and an ironically mouthy black woman? Warning: I laughed in spite of myself at a funny sight gag.
"Parenthood" -- The weird video preview of "Parenthood" which featured Ron Howard free-associating beneath his baseball hat. This show stars Nate from "Six Feet Under" who is looking hotter than ever and Maura Tierney, who apparently producers think is old enough to play a woman with a teenage daughter, which she most certainly is not. Okay, I guess she is 44 but she looks super-good. "There's nothing funnier than watching someone go through the pain you're feeling," said Ron Howard on the video, and then he started laughing maniacally, and talking about how teenagers are legitimately mentally ill for a while. The only way this promo video could have been worse is if co-executive producer Brian Grazer had narrated it.
"We all know how important family is," said Angela Bromstad, NBC's new president of Primetime Entertainment.
Right, except for:
"100 Questions" -- This sitcom is "Joey" with an English woman. Also apparently it is okay to make fun of albinos now. This makes "Two Guys A Girl And A Pizza Place" look like "Thirtysomething."
"Mercy" -- This is a dishy show about three nurses: the geeky sensitive one, the sassy black one (I KNOW, SIGH), and the hot one, who is Taylor Schilling of ... well, of nothing fame. She has been in nothing, at ALL, but I actually believed NBC when they said she "tested off the charts for us" in the manner of a Michelle Pfeiffer. I would watch this show if I were gay and/or a sassy young woman who liked heels and lived in downtown Chicago. The show takes place in a magical hospital where every patient has a private room.
"Day One" -- This is still in production but lemme say, yes please, as apparently bad aliens have come to destroy the planet and good aliens, led by a hot chick in sensible architect glasses, have also come to save the planet. WHO WILL WIN?!?!?!?! It looks insanely expensive.
But, Angela Bromstad, like five months into your job, doesn't it seem clear that some of the shows you're presenting here will never make it on air?
"Oh no, no, no, said Bromstad. "We made the decision that these are the shows we're picking up: some of these are Fall, some of these are midseason. But we feel like we've worked out different schedules in our heads and what we want to make sure is that we've got backup and failure and a really fresh lineup in the fall and we don't make the mistake of not having great programming to launch out of the Olympics. So it really is like two seasons!"
And though they have some "great shows," still: "We need some new hits!" said Bromstad. "We need some new shows." Well, don't we all.
-- Choire Sicha, special to Zap2it.com