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After starting the morning with an informal breakfast celebrating Betty White‘s 90th birthday and previewing her upcoming reality series Off Their Rockers, NBC Entertainment topper Bob Greenblatt noted the fourth-place network had a “really bad fall.” Beyond addressing the future of Community, 30 Rock andthe Today show, NBC launched into a day of panels that included Smash, Are You There, Chelsea? and Awake. Here are the highlights from Friday’s session at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena.
Executive suite: During the executive session, a frank Greenblatt noted the fall, which featured the cancellation of freshman series The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, Free Agents, was “worse than I had hoped for, but about what I expected.”
News hits: Greenblatt also addressed a number of concerns at the network, including recent reports that Today show host Matt Lauer could depart the morning staple. “The No. 1 priority is keeping Matt on the Today show,” he told reporters.
Coming back: Greenblatt confirmed that the fan favorite and ratings-challenged comedy Community will return this season. “When I announced our midseason changes last fall and took Community off the schedule, I failed to explicitly say that it would be back,” he told reporters.
Also returning:Alec Baldwin. The 30 Rock Emmy winner is returning to the Thursday night comedy next year, with the NBC topper telling reporters after his morning presentation that “We have Alec for next season” and that the actor had “quietly re-upped” this past fall.
Guest gig: In announcing his upcoming four-episode arc on Law & Order: SVU, Harry Connick Jr. and Mariska Hargitay offered a first-look at both their on-screen chemistry and off-screen friendship. In an effort to allay fans’ fears, both Greenblatt and Hargitay reconfirmed that the actress isn’t leaving the veteran procedural anytime soon. Hargitay also noted that she’ll be back for next season as well.
Speaking of returning … Former — and controversial — NBC Entertainment topper Ben Silverman returned to TCA with reality series Fashion Star. “I’m bettin’ on Bob,” he said during the ho-hum panel. When asked about his fiery relationship with the press, he quipped: “You guys were always our friends when the shows were good.”
Legal eagle: Josh Lucas shared his fascination with law during session for drama The Firm, telling reporters of his experience serving on a jury that convicted the trial’s defendant to life.
One-liner queens: The session for midseason comedy Are You There, Chelsea? featured Laura Prepon and Chelsea Handler zipping between subjects with one-liners like this, from Handler, who plays the older sister to Prepon’s version of her: “I don’t have time to star in my own TV show. If I did I would. I like my E! show, I love being under the radar.”
Chemistry:Amanda Peet talked chemistry with her on-screen handyman in the network’s upcoming romantic comedy Bent, while co-star David Walton dished surfing. Meanwhile, co-star Jeffrey Tambor weighed in after the panel on Netflix’s Arrested Development reboot.
Broadway bound? The cast and producers — numbering a whopping 16 on the stage — addressed pressure to succeed for the network, comparisons to Fox’s Glee as well as whether or not the Marilyn Monroe play-within-the-series could eventually make it to Broadway. Plus what could a second season look like and could there be another play developed within the show?
Dueling realities: The complexity of NBC’s Awake, about detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) living in two parallel realities, was a frequent topic of discussion during the session. Executive producer Howard Gordon seemed confident viewers would accept the concept early on, and if not, so be it. “It’s a fairly gettable concept. Whatever learning curve there’ll be, I hope it’s shallow,” Gordon said.
Loud Voices: In a spirited debate, The Voice coaches talked Twitter controversies, the differences between all the singing competitions as well as what can be expected in the upcoming second season. Plus: Adam Levine trusts the show more than the recording industry.
Up next on Saturday: Day 2 with NBCUniversal’s cable networks.
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