NBC re-ups trio, boosts 'Heroes'

'Office,' '30 Rock,' 'Loser' will return; outlook murky for 'Kath,' 'Knight'

NBC announced early renewals for a trio of shows Thursday while providing reassurance that its weakened powerhouse "Heroes" has a "very secure" future.

Solid performers "The Office," "30 Rock" and "The Biggest Loser" will be back for another season, but a final verdict on "Lipstick Jungle" has not been rendered. NBC also set a premiere date for its untitled Amy Poehler comedy — 8:30 p.m. April 9, in "Kath & Kim's" Thursday slot — and confirmed that John Wells' new police drama "Southland" will take over for "ER" at 10 p.m. Thursdays, also beginning April 9, while "Kings" will air at 8 p.m. Sundays starting March 15.

The network's new cooking-competition series "The Chopping Block" will premiere at 8 p.m. March 11, replacing "Knight Rider."

NBC primetime entertainment president Angela Bromstad said three more "ER" episodes were ordered to ensure Wells had time to get "Southland" ready and that "Kings" creator Michael Green was fine with the switch.

"We feel so strongly about both of these shows that instead of waiting until fall, we wanted to launch both this spring," she said.

The news was part of a flurry of announcements during NBC's session at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour, which introduced Bromstad and executive vp alternative programming Paul Telegdy, who recently stepped into their roles as part of an executive shake-up.

Bromstad stressed that despite Jay Leno taking over its 10 p.m. hour in the fall, NBC will not cut back on scripted development. The network is looking for six dramas and four comedies this fall and hopes to have long-awaited action series "The Philanthropist" on the air as early as spring.

"We have to have the quality and have to have the ratings," Bromstad said. "But we won't replace shows that are loved by fans and are good, quality shows just to put another show on."

"Heroes," which has gone from a top performer to worrisome ratings territory, was given a vote of confidence.

" 'Heroes' is very secure," Bromstad said. "What's important is we never lose sight of being responsible in production."

She added, though, that "Kath" and "Knight" are shows that "may or may not come back." (partialdiff)