Winter TV's Burning Questions: Leno Exit; 'Idol' Reboot; 'Modern Family' Slide
This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Here we are again, Bob Greenblatt: It's early January, and you're back at No. 1. But unlike 2013, when NBC fell to last (¡below Univision!) without football and The Voice, you have February's Winter Olympics in your sights. Still, you've got issues: Can The Blacklist remain the season's biggest new hit without Adam Levine and friends as a lead-in? What's up your sleeve on the live-musical front? Are there any plans for your anemic Thursday night, which sank to a sobering 1.0 demo rating in November? Community hasn't been boosted by the return of Dan Harmon at the helm. And, finally, how concerned are you about Jay Leno's next move when Jimmy Fallon takes The Tonight Show's reins Feb. 17? (Hey, CNN's Jeff Zucker, we'll be peppering you with Leno questions, too. Yes, again.)
Don't worry, Nina Tassler, you're not going to be deluged with questions about a Two and a Half Men controversy (we'll save those for A&E's David McKillop and AMC's Charlie Collier thanks to the dust-ups with Duck Dynasty and Frank Darabont, respectively). But what gives on Monday nights, where you now regularly rank fourth and your otherwise steady ratings have been dragged down 7 percent in the 18-to-49 demographic so far this season? What's next, now that internal favorite Hostages has sputtered and exiting anchor How I Met Your Mother leaves you without a comedy hit? And most importantly, what's with all of this industry chatter about The Big Bang Theory cast prepping for a big contract battle to keep the megahit chugging along?
Well, Paul Lee, it looks like we're going to have to address your ratings troubles once and for all. Sure, you're narrowly in third place. But with nothing too promising on the midseason horizon, even a boosted Bachelor can't keep you from another year at the bottom. And, yes, with that will come questions about Dancing With the Stars, Revenge and other middling standbys. With Agents of SHIELD underperforming and the Once Upon a Time spinoff DOA, are you rethinking Disney synergies? And what's the deal with Modern Family, down nearly 25 percent this season and still unable to launch a half-hour hit? (Don't feel left out, USA's Chris McCumber; you'll get Modern Family questions, too.) And we know the pressure is on for ABC's new reality chief, Lisa Berger, who has scooped up projects like the Israeli format Rising Star. How soon can we expect an unscripted hit?
Kevin Reilly, what's a TCA session without a little singing-show back-and-forth? Your loose-lipped pal Simon Cowell mentioned a fourth season of the barely watched The X Factor as its December finale plummeted 45 percent -- where are you with that? And what are you expecting from the 67th (we kid!) incarnation of American Idol? We know you're relieved to have a new drama hit in Sleepy Hollow and your comedy taste validated in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but you won't get off that stage before addressing the high-profile misfire that has been Dads. (Speaking of targets du jour, Showtime's David Nevins, prepare for a heated Homeland debate.) You can expect us to fire off tough questions about all of these straight-to-series bets and the struggles you've had with half-hours. Your charm will go only so far.