New owner but same approach for NBC programming chief
Much has been made of cable giant Comcast Corp.'s takeover of NBCUniversal, but when it came to mapping out the NBC prime-time schedule, it was business as usual.
"The process is the same," said Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment and a veteran of the pilot process. Greenblatt, who was brought in to NBC by Comcast after a successful stint as head of programming for the pay cable channel Showtime, said there was little to no interference from Steve Burke, the new chief executive of NBCUniversal, or Brian Roberts, the chief executive of parent company Comcast.
"They're not micromanagers," Greenblatt said of Burke and Roberts. "They didn't want to read every script or any script."
That doesn't mean they didn't weigh in or act as a sounding board for Greenblatt, but given that he has more programming experience than both Roberts and Burke, there is a a long leash being provided. Before running Showtime, Greenblatt had successful stints as an independent producer and a top executive at the Fox network.
Though the process of making prime-time shows didn't change, the workload did.
"I think I made more pilots in the last seven months than I made in three years at Showtime," Greenblatt cracked.
With NBC struggling in the ratings, Comcast has said it will pump more money into the network's programming efforts. On Sunday, the network unveiled a new schedule that featured several ambitious dramas, including "The Playboy Club," set in the 1960s, and another that is a remake of the British hit "Prime Suspect." It also has new comedies featuring Christina Applegate and Hank Azaria.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Robert Greenblatt. Credit: Fred Prouser / Reuters