11:11am PT by Lacey Rose
TCA 2012: NBC Chief on 'Community' Shake-Up, Challenges and Future
What would a gathering of the press be without a deluge of questions about critical darling Community?
NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and his scripted chief Jennifer Salke were on the receiving end Tuesday morning at the Television Critics Association’s semiannual press tour. Without mentioning ousted showrunner Dan Harmon by name, the execs addressed – albeit briefly -- the long-running comedy’s commercial concerns, future prospects and, to some extent, recent controversies.
"Fans are going to get the same show that they have loved from the beginning (with new showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio)," Greenblatt insisted to a packed ballroom at the Beverly Hilton, reiterating a message the new producers communicated at Comic-Con a week or so earlier.
"Every so often it's time to make a change with a showrunner and you evaluate the creative and how the show is run and how writing staff works,” Greenblatt continued, dancing around a topic that has been the subject of media reports since Harmon’s departure in mid-May. "Sometimes you want to freshen a show and we just decided it was time to do that with Community."
More promising for fans of the Sony-produced series, which is being moved to Fridays: Greenblatt says that he is hopeful that the series will find an audience on an evening with lower ratings expectations and continue beyond this season.
"Community is a show that's always on the bubble, we decided to bring it back again and see what a fourth season would do for us, which isn't to say we couldn't decide to extend those seasons longer," added Greenblatt, who noted that the network is undergoing a comedy transition in which it is looking to court broader, more commercial fare to complement the little-watched darlings currently lining its schedule. ("We’re in this awkward phase," said Salke.)
To hear Greenblatt tell it, the rationale for picking up only 13 episodes was to make room for more comedies on the schedule. NBC is heading into the new season with 10 comedies on four of its five weeknights, a bigger comedy push than any of its competitors. (ABC has eight; CBS has six; and Fox has four, excluding its animated efforts.)
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose