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It’s not clear whether any mortal can save NBC, but if anyone has a shot it might be Robert Greenblatt, who will oversee entertainment programming once NBC Universal’s merger with Comcast in completed.
The 50-year-old Greenblatt is very much a hot piece of executive talent right now, having transformed Showtime during his tenure from an HBO wannabe to a respected–though far smaller–competitor.
Greenblatt’s tenure at Showtime was marked by a very hands-on approach and a particular skill for wooing and handling talent.
He was “100 percent responsible for the casting of Michael C. Hall in the lead of Dexter,” says the show’s executive producer John Goldwyn. “He’s an incredibly good sniffer of talent.”
When Greenblatt joined Showtime in 2003, the series about the serial killer was one of his first hits. “That thing that was so impressive was the speed with which he moved,” Goldwyn says. “He read the book, optioned it, we got a script going and, very quickly, he ordered the pilot to production.”
Weeds, The L Word, Californication, Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara soon followed. But quirky, edgy shows about dope-dealing moms and other anti-heroes wrestling with their flaws won’t be enough to turn NBC around.
The mood in Hollywood is hopeful but still skeptical.
“He’s going to have to be extraordinary at the job and also get very lucky,” says one veteran television exec.
Greenblatt’s former production partner, David Janollari, predicts great things: “It’s a great challenge, he’ll rise to the occasion.”
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