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MAY
12
6 MOS

TV Upfronts: THR Live-Blogs NBC's Presentation

Get minute-by-minute updates from our staff inside the Javits Center as network chief Bob Greenblatt sells the fall season to advertisers.

Robert Greenblatt
Getty Images
Bob Greenblatt

After announcing its 2014-15 schedule Sunday, NBC was the first network to formally kick off Upfronts Week in New York with its morning presentation.

The Hollywood Reporter's TV Team is inside the Javits Center and brings you all the action as network chief Bob Greenblatt pitches his fall slate to advertisers. Refresh for all the latest insights. (All times Eastern.)

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10:57 a.m. -- The Late Show house band, fronted by Fred Armisen, plays the crowd in -- much as the Roots did in years past. Armisen peppers some ambient arrival Muzak with a cover of Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself."

11 -- Fox's Kevin Reilly gamely took questions from reporters in a conference call this morning despite a difficult year. (More from Fox this afternoon.) NBC? No call, no questions from the press despite being No. 1. Go figure. A huge line outside the Javits Center on a hot day. But with The Voice and The Blacklist, the network finally has stopped promising and started delivering.

11:15 -- NBC opens with Seth Meyers. He jokes this "could just have easily been covered in a mass email." Meyers, fond of neither the time nor the venue, calls 11 a.m. "closing time" for wine-guzzling Today co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb and calls the Javits Center "the heart of New York's historic stabbing district."

11: 16 -- "If Jacob Javits was alive today, he'd say, 'Radio City Music Hall was booked?' " Meyers says, adding that the Javits Center could hold "everyone who watched Ironside."

11:18 -- Meyers takes stabs at failed NBC shows Ironside, Smash and Sean Saves the World in a bid to rival Jimmy Kimmel's ABC upfront opening. Citing the hit live Sound of Music, Meyers says, "It's so much better to be a smash than to have a show and call it Smash." 

11:19 -- Calling the Winter Olympics "mandatory-see TV" in Russia, Meyers thanked the much-watched games for the ratings boost. "Sochi not only gave NBC a launch pad, it gave Putin the courage to get out there and do more."

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11:20 -- "Because of global warming, they will all be summer Olympics" and "The Blacklist is about people Donald Sterling doesn't want coming to Clippers games" were among Meyers' one-liners. He then takes another shot at the Javits Center: "Even the New York City subway doesn't come here."

11:22 -- Meyers and Armisen do their nightly schtick where the host asks his band leader what he's working on and it turns out he's (not really) sold a drama to NBC: Hospital on a Trolley, in which Armisen plays four different doctors on a mobile medical facility. (Think Orphan Black meets ER.)

11:24 -- Look out, Meyers. If this goes over too well, you could be locked in to doing upfronts gigs for years, like Kimmel.

11:25 -- Ad sales president Linda Yaccarino's walks out to the Olympic theme music on the heels of last week's $7.7 billion rights deal -- and sports is one of her top bragging points. The first entertainment programming she even mentions is Jimmy Fallon's successful Tonight Show launch: "From Today to Tonight, we're firing on all cylinders."

11:30 -- Yaccarino introduces Greenblatt with an understatement: "There truly is one individual who is the key architect of our success. He is the hardest-working executive in our company."

11:33 -- Greenblatt extols the Olympics but notes even without them, NBC is still No. 1 in the key adults 18-49 demo ... and No. 2 in total viewers. He goes on to say that NBC's competition is "all down in the demo."

11:34 -- Greenblatt praises Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon, and says he's "killing it," beating Kimmel and David Letterman combined.

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11:35 -- Olympics, football and late-night bragging right aside, the first scripted mention is The Blacklist. And despite burying that lead, Greenblatt calls the Monday drama "the biggest story for the year."

11:36 -- The Voice coaches send in a taped message since they're in L.A. for a live show tonight. Adam Levine urges advertisers to "give The Voice a buttload of money!"

11:38 -- Oh, look, Sunday ratings are in and mini Rosemary's Baby premiered to a 1.1 in the demo. Bob probably won't be bringing this up onstage …

11:39 -- Greenblatt continues to praise The Blacklist -- star James Spader has skipped the event but the rest of the cast is around. He unspools a taped message featuring Spader taking down media buyers in very creative ways. "Today is about the future, your future -- if you wish to have one," Spader says before bouncing back to Greenblatt, aka "the ginger." The clip receives a warm reception, and Greenblatt says the idea to have fun with the execs came straight from Spader.

11:45 -- Greenblatt announces NBC will do another live music special after Peter Pan with a production of The Music Man. He calls attention to the success of The Sound of Music Live. "I know a lot of people were rolling their eyes about it." After announcing The Music Man, he jokes that head of sales Yaccarino will play Peter Pan. Greenblatt acknowledges what we've all known for three seasons: Networks can not get enough of "event" programming. "You're going to hear the word event a lot this week, as we're trying to eventize everything -- even episodes of our scripted programming."

11:52 -- Greenblatt highlights Fallon's Internet prowess. Clips introduce Fallon, who says, "We're No. 1! We've got The Voice, we've got The Blacklist, we've got reruns of The Voice and The Blacklist."

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11: 55 -- Fallon kills it with NBC's superlatives, calling Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman "most likely to be the love child of Grumpy Cat and the Lorax," before taking stabs at Greenblatt ("Most likely to star in NBC's newest show, Orange Is the New Pale." Among those he takes shots at: Mr. Robinson's Craig Robinson, Spader, Nick Cannon, Carson Daly, Adam Levine, Paul Telegedy ("most likely to have a business card that just says, "The Voice, bitch!"), Yaccarino, Jennifer Salke, Ted Harbert ("most likely to dance how you think he would dance") and Steve Burke ("most likely to spray his wife with a garden hose in a Cialis commercial") before concluding with himself

11:59 -- Greenblatt says a "seismic shift" will put NBC on the map on Thursday nights, where the network will eventually completely abandon comedy come midseason. Now going through the schedule, Greenblatt talks about the strategy for moving The Blacklist to Thursdays. The big post-Super Bowl episode will be a two-parter, with the conclusion airing four days later in the time slot premiere. 

12:03 -- Greenblatt says comedy Marry Me, from Happy Endings creator David Caspe and starring his fiancee Casey Wilson (who also starred in the late ABC comedy), has more edge than the title might suggest. The clips look funny.

12:05 -- The first new series clips are comedy Marry Me and Greg Berlanti drama The Mysteries of Laura. Don't be confused by the procedural description of the latter, Debra Messing's latest stab at NBC success seems heavy on the slapstick. If we're gauging applause, Marry Me outperformed Laura by at least 70 percent in the room.

12:10 -- Greenblatt says Thursday gives the network an opportunity to build comedies with CBS starting football. He shows clips of Kate Walsh comedy Bad Judge and Cristin Milioti rom-com A to Z. The trailer for Bad Judge, from EP Will Ferrell, gets a smattering of laughs. A to Z  plays pretty flat. But hey, they're just clips and this venue doesn't seem laugh-friendly. 

12:19 -- The promo for Constantine, based on DC's Hellblazer, is a little graphic, and some in the crowd don't seem to know what to do with it. There's an obligatory applause but more than a few shaking heads. 

12: 22 -- Note: No sign of president of entertainment Jennifer Salke during this presentation. She shared duties with Greenblatt and had a tough outing last year, when her delivery was notably lacking in energy. She isn't up for another attempt, it seems. But Greenblatt is getting more used to the gig.

12:25 -- Greenblatt says that family spy thriller Allegiance will take over Parenthood's Thursday 10 p.m. slot after the Jason Katims drama ends its 13-episode run. The exec says Allegiance will have the same energy as The Blacklist, making the pair perfect companions for the night.

12:32 -- The Mark Burnett-Roma Downey event series A.D. will begin with the crucifixion and resurrection. In a taped message, Burnett says the series is "Game of Thrones mixed with The Borgias mixed with The Bible."

12:38 -- Greenblatt says the final season of Parks and Recreation will consist of 13 episodes, a decision he made with showrunner Mike Schur and star Amy Poehler.

12:40 -- Clips from drama thriller Odyssey look pretty engaging. The trailer for Ellie Kemper's The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt -- picked up straight to series for fall but held for midseason -- unspools with narration from EP Tina Fey. It looks like an extension of the off-center humor of 30 Rock (not that there's anything wrong with that -- except maybe if ratings are your priority). Jane Krakowski has joined the series as a super-vapid cartoon blonde. 

12:45 -- Heroes fans, celebrate. Although Greenblatt dropped a lot of "re-"s during his short description of Reborn -- the event series is being billed as both a "reboot" and "reimagining" -- the original cast will be represented as well: "Some of the familiar faces from the show are bound to pop in."

12:47 -- NBC is now pushing the two-hour mark, which is not a good idea. Greenblatt introduces Katherine Heigl drama State of Affairs. If it wasn't clear already, NBC is clearly putting a lot of eggs in Heigl's basket. Her character declares: "Total slob in my personal life; total sniper in my professional one." This one will be closely watched to see whether viewers stick with it. Teasing State of Affairs earlier in the presentation, the preview closes the show and people seem to genuinely enjoy the clip. Maybe time really does heal all wounds -- or maybe buyers just really like the idea of Alfre Woodard as the president. 

12:50 -- It's been an exhaustive two hours indoors and even Greenblatt is over it. "This ginger needs some sun," he announces as everyone starts heading out the door. And that's a wrap. 

Stay tuned to THR for more Upfronts coverage.