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New fall TV season: Donald Trump steals spotlight as NBC executives flog fall shows

May 16, 2011 | 11:47 am

Trump NBC executives tried hard to plug their fall TV schedule Monday morning. And they almost succeeded -- till Donald Trump walked onstage at the New York Hilton.

Trump, the host of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice," finally ended speculation about his political intentions and announced that he won't run for president and will instead go on with the show. Somehow, in inimitable Trump fashion, that kind of took the spotlight off the new programs such as "Prime Suspect," "Smash" and "Up All Night." 

"We'd also like to make news with our upfront," NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt joked as the crowd stayed abuzz over Trump's message. 

Greenblatt and company did their best to persuade advertisers that the days of cost-cutting and lackluster programming are over at No. 4-ranked NBC. "Today is the start of the road to recovery," Greenblatt told the hundreds assembled in a Hilton ballroom. "We view this as a marathon, not a sprint."

The best reaction by far came for "Smash," the midseason drama starring Katharine McPhee as a Broadway ingénue. The show is already being compared with "Glee," and a brief clip earned raucous applause even toward the end of a two-hour presentation.

Media buyers also seemed to like "Prime Suspect," the crime drama starring Maria Bello as a tough New York detective. But there was only polite applause for two Wednesday comedies, "Up All Night" and "Free Agents." Ditto "Grimm," an unusual fantasy/horror hybrid that's set for Friday nights.

NBC also added a bit of razzle-dazzle courtesy of its talent. Christina Aguilera, now a judge on NBC's hit "The Voice," closed out the presentation with a song performance, while "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers of "Saturday Night Live" offered live comic bits.

Referring to "The Voice," Meyers joked: "Some critics are saying we're ripping off 'American Idol.' To which I say, if you have a better idea, we'd love to hear it."

ALSO ON SHOW TRACKER:

Donald Trump announces he won't run for president

"Celebrity Apprentice" recap

NBC chases women with new fall schedule

Full Show Tracker Upfronts coverage

-- Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Donald Trump last month in Las Vegas. Credit: David Becker / Getty Images.

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