NBC's Bromstad talks pilots, upfront plans
THR EXCLUSIVEWith 20 pilots in contention for next season, NBC has wasted no time in awarding series orders. Having picked up J.J. Abrams' spy drama "Undercovers" earlier last week, on Friday the network granted series status to serialized conspiracy thriller "The Event," single-camera East-meets-West workplace comedy "Outsourced" and hourlong romantic comedy "Love Bites." In an exclusive interview, NBC Entertainment president Angela Bromstad talked about the network's new shows and what the Peacock has planned for next season.
The Hollywood Reporter: Can you give us a sense of what "Undercovers" will be like on a week-to-week basis?
Angela Bromstad: It's a stand-alone adventure every week. It's a great modernized "Hart-to-Hart" with great banter and lightness in tone.
THR: How much involvement will Abrams have after the pilot?
Bromstad: J.J. will stay involved in the show. It greatly depends on his feature schedule, but he's absolutely committed to being active in this show.
THR: Will he be directing or writing any more episodes?
Bromstad: He's got two movies, so the directing will have to be subject to his availability. I think he will have a strong hand overseeing the writing.
THR: Then there's "The Event." This went from low buzz to hot to pick-up really fast.
Bromstad: We looked at "Lost" going off the air, "24" going off the air. We wanted something that could fill that void for viewers that was a high-octane mystery thriller. It's about an average guy who's caught up in this conspiracy. You follow four major characters involved in this. It's serialized andI love that it was low buzz because the script was incredible, then it goes into production and you never know what's going to come back. Everybody says that to follow shows like "Lost" and "24" you have to hit it out of the park and therefore were dismissing "The Event." And guess what? We hit it out of the park and we were absolutely blown away.
THR: So presumably with that model, you're looking to air "The Event" midseason like "Lost" and "24" so it can run straight through?
Bromstad: Not necessarily. We picked it up early to give our writers on these high-degree-of-difficulty shows like "Love Bites" and "The Event" a head-start.
THR: You air your genre shows on Mondays. Do you think that will continue next season with "The Event?"
Bromstad: We have another genre piece in contention, and we have "Chuck." We're going to hash out the schedule over the next week.
THR: The other genre show you're referring to is "The Cape." I heard that came in strong, too.
Bromstad: It looks fantastic. We just saw it with special effects today. It's close-ended and the hero catches the bad guy every week. Decisions are still outstanding, though, because we haven't gotten back our testing yet.
THR: With "The Event" getting picked up and "The Cape" looking good, does that mean "Heroes" is less likely to get that final season order?
Bromstad: With serialized shows like "Parenthood" and "Heroes" that don't perform well in repeats we could be looking at shows sharing the same time slots (split between fall and spring). I wouldn't count anything out. With shows like that we really have to sit down and figure out all the pieces of the schedule.
THR: Earlier you said "we have 'Chuck' " when talking about Mondays. Can we put these fans out of their misery and just say it's picked up?
Bromstad: It's our highest performing Monday night show. We look at it as a very strong player and it's a show that matches up with our new shows. It's too early for me to say for certain as it's a conversation we're going to have next week.
THR: "Outsourced" seems like a perfect fit for Thursday nights.
Bromstad: It tested great. It's smart and has that originality we always look for. When it's a passion project of (showrunner) Ken Kwapis, we feel very good about those auspices.
THR: You already have your other Thursday night comedies picked up. If you pick up more comedies, you're presumably going to open another block somewhere.
Bromstad: Right. We just got in our final comedy today. We have to get in all of our testing. We have to figure out if we have enough to open a third hour of comedy.
THR: Among your other pilots, how does the "Rockford Files" reboot look?
Bromstad: We just got it today. It screened really well. Dermot Mulroney is great. We have no testing back, but it's a high bar and we're going to need to watch the cut another time and see the research.
THR: And David E. Kelley's "Kindreds?"
Bromstad: "Kindreds" was a really interesting pilot. People thought it was really original and it screened well. Kathy Bates tested higher than any character ever tested so there's something special about that one.
THR: Can you tease to your upfront presentation? What should the audience expect?
Bromstad: They should expect to see a good amount of footage from the shows and less executive talk.
THR: Since you're going to have so many new shows, does the network plan to use the traditional premiere week or will you be rolling out shows earlier or later?
Bromstad: We'll go with the traditional premiere week, though it doesn't mean we'll launch everything that week. But we're looking at a traditional fall launch.
THR: The network recently renewed a trio of reality shows ("The Marriage Ref," "Who Do You Think You Are," "Minute to Win It"). Since you have so many new scripted shows coming, is it fair to assume the reality shows will be for midseason?
Bromstad: Yes and those don't have to air in a traditional cycle. The upfront is going to focus on scripted.
THR: What's your overall goal for next fall?
Bromstad: We made a lot of pilots and the teams worked incredibly hard and fortunately we have a lot to choose from. We have great concepts and actors and found some great new faces. We want the best of the best -- the most original breakout comedies and dramas. That's what we're aspiring to.