NBC Entertainment Chief on 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine': A "Missed Opportunity" No More

Bob Greenblatt hedges on the fate of 'Timeless' and 'Champions' as well as a long-rumored reboot of 'The Office.'
Erica Parise/FOX
'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

NBC Entertainment executives on Friday garnered headlines and fan accolades for rescuing the Mike Schur comedy Brookyn Nine-Nine from the scrapheap when the show was axed by Fox one day earlier. And chairman Bob Greenblatt revealed that he’s long had his eye on the Andy Samberg vehicle.

“It’s a show very close to us,” Greenblatt said Sunday during a conference call with reporters, noting that Brooklyn Nine-Nine was developed at the in-house studio Universal Television. “We’ve been watching it closely ever since. If I knew Andy Samberg was going to be cast, we would have never sold it to Fox. We thought it was a missed opportunity from the beginning. And we think it fits into our brand of comedy in many ways better than it ever fit in the Fox brand of comedy.”

For Fox, the show had become very expensive to float with an escalating license fee to producer Universal Television. But the Roseanne effect has manifested in more pickups for half-hour programs — many of them multicamera — that appeal to middle America in the age of Trump. It’s a trend that diverges with NBC’s more urbane comedy brand. Observing that the debate between “single-cam versus multicam” has been ongoing, Greenblatt noted: “I think you want the best cam. So hat’s off to Roseanne. It’s one of the great shows of the past 30 years. We’re in our lane, but we’re really happy to be in our lane."

NBC will bow one new comedy this fall: I Feel Bad, a single-camera effort executive produced by Amy Poehler and inspired by Orli Auslander's book. It has also picked up Abby’s for midseason, which is a multicamera comedy from Schur and starring Parks and Recreation alum Natalie Morales in the title role, as a woman running an unlicensed, makeshift bar in her backyard; it’s filmed outside in front of a live audience.

Greenblatt acknowledged the quickest they could get Brooklyn Nine-Nine on the schedule would be midseason. A.P. Bio also moves to midseason. But he would not divulge whether or not the network is actually in development about a reboot of The Office. 

And with the season finale of Timeless on tap for Sunday night — and ending on a massive cliffhanger — Greenblatt remained mum on the show’s future at NBC. “We’re hopeful yet realistic,” he hedged.

The exec noted that as far as Timeless and Mindy Kaling's bubble comedy Champions, “we tried to give the producers the courtesy of letting their shows run” before making a decision about their futures. 

Among the biggest surprises to come out of NBC’s pilot pickups was the pass on L.A.’s Finest, the Bad Boys spinoff starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba; Greenblatt chalked the decision up to an “embarrassment of riches” on the drama front, adding, “these are tough calls.”

As to the winter iteration of summer staple America’s Got Talent: The Champions, unscripted chief Paul Telegdy revealed that the network has been looking at getting a second in-season run of the show on the schedule for some time. The difference this time was it was able to align the production with Simon Cowell’s busy schedule. The new iteration will feature fan favorites from the U.S. and U.K versions.

Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new show orders with THR's scorecards for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW and all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark THR.com/upfronts.