Category: NBC

'America's Got Talent' recap: San Francisco, land of 'big talent'?

Howie mandel america's got talent recap
Good thing Nick Cannon isn't afraid of heights. The "America's Got Talent" host ushered in the second night of Season 7 auditions from atop the Golden Gate Bridge. Yep, the "America's Got Talent" audition caravan had rolled -- like some kind of unhinged cable car, with Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel waving wildly out the windows -- into San Francisco.

There, in the home of Rice-a-Roni and (some naked guy with blurred private parts told us at the outset of the show) "huge talent," the focus shifted ever so slightly away from new judge Stern and onto the motley assembly of singers and magicians, animal acts and acrobats, dance crews and dramatically "different" novelty acts, those who are crazy and those who are admirably rising above crazy personal challenges.

In other words, it was more or less back to "America's Got Talent" business as usual. But without heartless Piers Morgan and with bighearted Stern, who already seems like family.

The best auditions of the night included. …

David Garibaldi and His CMYKs: A performance art group that blended graffiti, music, art and dance and -– moving to the music of Beethoven's 5fth -- painted a gigantic portrait of Beethoven, which Stern shamefacedly confessed he'd at first thought was a painting of him. (Actually, it looked a little like Sting, no?) 

Funk Beyond Control: A cute, energetic teen dance group.

Luiz Meneghin: A registered nurse -– born in Brazil, living in Utah -- who has always dreamed of making it in music and who sings opera to his elderly patients. He won over the judges, including Stern (no opera fan), with his tone and emotion.

Dave Burleigh: A comedian who does impressive impressions of stars, including Nicholas Cage, Bruce Willis and Charlie Sheen. Stern urged him to get edgier material, but Osbourne disagreed.

Turf: A formerly homeless 21-year-old street performer with a sweet smile and interesting hair who calls himself an "extreme hiphop contortionist and dancer." He wept when the audience applauded and said, "100%. I've never done anything like this. This right here, dream came true. Thank you." Aw.

Tim Hockenberry: A soulful singer who is a recovering alcoholic with a pretty wife and a new baby.

Jarrett & Raja: An impressive magician/concert pianist act that pulled off a trick in which the pianist played his instrument while he was cut in half.

Michael Nejad: A performer who comes onstage dressed like a custodian, then plays his broom and dustpan like flutes.

And there were more, many more. But I can't leave without telling you about an act so odd it might have been the most memorable. No, not that poor dog who rode a pony, hanging on for dear life.

Of course I'm talking about 80-year-old Paula Nelson, who uses a walker, wears pearls and orthopedic shoes, calls herself "Granny G" and raps about randy youth and family responsibility.

Here she is doing her thing:

And you thought Stern was going to push the boundaries of taste on this show. …

What did you think of this episode?


'America's Got Talent' recap: Stern makes his debut

'America's Got Talent': Ratings down for Stern premiere

Full Showtracker coverage of "America's Got Talent" episodes 

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Howie Mandel in San Francisco. Credit: Virginia Sherwood / NBC

'America's Got Talent': Ratings down for Howard Stern premiere

Maybe America wasn't quite ready for Howard Stern as a judge.

Ratings for Monday's season premiere of "America's Got Talent" plunged compared with last year, according to Nielsen. The first episode with shock-jock Stern — who took over as a judge for Piers Morgan — slipped by one-third, to 10.3-million total viewers in the early data. Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne returned to join Stern at the judges' table.

That doesn't look great, especially after NBC tirelessly promoted Stern's arrival with ads, promos and extensive media interviews.

But in fairness, NBC decided — perhaps unwisely — to open "America's Got Talent" early this year, rather than after the season was officially over. That meant that "AGT" had to slug it out against tough competition, rather than the usual mix of repeats and weak reality shows that it usually has no trouble gliding past. It's likely that "AGT" will build substantially once the summer slowdown occurs.

Still, it's probably not the news that long-suffering NBC — which just unveiled its new fall lineup on Monday — was hoping for.

What did you think of Stern on "AGT"?


Fans embrace Howard Stern debut on "AGT"

Howard Stern's "AGT" gig raises ire

"AGT" clip shows Howard Stern in action

Howard Stern: I've made weirdos stars for years

— Scott Collins (

Photo: Howard Stern (back to camera) confers with fellow judges Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne (partly obscured) on "America's Got Talent." Credit: Virginia Sherwood / NBC.



'Smash' finale recap: Let Megan Hilty be your star

Megan hilty jaime cepero smash finale recap
Just before the last episode of the first season of “Smash” aired, show runner Theresa Rebeck announced that she would not be returning for Season 2. Instead, Josh Safran, a "Gossip Girl” producer, is coming in to, in the words of Tom (nee Christian Borle), “reboot” the entire show.

Though this type of personnel change isn’t unheard of, it is rare for a major show to lose its captain this way, and one can only guess that Rebeck, a creature of the theater, decided that some of the magic that she was hoping to translate onto the screen was irretrievably lost and that she was better equipped to work on a smaller scale with the strong stuff, rather than the diluted version writ large. Or perhaps she just realized that the show, as it stands now, is massively flawed and that the energy it would take to right the ship wasn’t something she was willing to waste on Katharine McPhee’s mealy-mouthed line readings anymore. Or perhaps she was asked to gracefully exit to make room for a helmer who understands how to take the show’s potential and deliver something worthy.

Because this show does have potential! When I watched the pilot back in January (doesn’t it feel like years ago?), I knew that this was a show that would live or die on the score. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman came out of the gate blazing, with numbers like “Let Me Be Your Star” and “The National Pasttime” that have held up throughout a season of listening to them -- at least as well as any Broadway soundtrack holds up. And with the exception of a miscalculated Ryan Tedder number and that bizarre turn to Bollywood, the show’s best element has always been its original music.

Take the closing number from Monday night, “Don’t Forget Me,” a final energetic ballad that led into a “Let Me Be Your Star” reprise. Even though I was furious that it was McPhee singing it and not Megan Hilty -- but more on that in a bit -- the song moved me, and I thought it was a fitting way to end a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. She pleads for the audience to remember her good qualities, how hard she strived, and not how hard she suffered. She wants to be a legend. A tall order, but as Marilyn is the textbook definition of legend in our culture, it doesn’t feel stretched, and even the fade-in of a large projection of her face comes at just the right moment. It’s sappy and overstated, sure, but so is much of the best work on Broadway, and I know I would have applauded like mad for that finale had I been in the audience.

So what we’re left with at the end of the first season -- and they haven’t even made it to Broadway yet, oy -- is that the show within a show works on some basic level. The thing that doesn’t work is the outer shell, the NBC show, and I think Rebeck saw the writing on the wall about that. But because NBC is pressing toward Broadway with this thing, they will have to figure out a way to make it better. And I think we all know that means not just handing over the reins to Karen.

Here’s the thing: I see what they’re doing here. Karen is the more moldable, malleable, Norma-Jeanable option for the role; she is the pre-Marilyn Marilyn, prone to fits of shyness and doubt and occasional reveries of intense talent. But she’s also boring and stiff, and those are two things that Norma Jean never was.

I understand why Derek is seeing her strange ghost wander around the halls like a specter from his own personal version of “Scrooge.” His vision of Marilyn is that of an innocent, a child, a ball of beautiful clay that men shape. And while it's problematic that the director of “Bombshell” has a misogynistic skew on the whole story, it does fit right into Derek’s persona. He likes his women to be little girls, delicate flowers, requiring his attention. It’s worth noting that when he was the sweetest to Ivy, she was at her lowest point, abusing drugs and getting kicked off stages. He wants to be the big daddy in the room, and Karen is a canvas on which he can paint that fantasy, down to her backstage melt-down. He has to coax the performance out of her as if she’s a baby bird, rubbing her curves and telling her that she’s a star, that he loves her. There were many men that treated Marilyn this way, and it possibly killed her. Which is to say, Derek has chosen Karen for now, so that he can treat her and mold her however he likes. I’m just not sure that it won’t kill her in Season 2. Just wait until she sleeps with him and he loses interest (and he will).

It wouldn’t be such a problem that Derek went with Karen as the big choice if the show didn’t have such a captivating starlet in Hilty. McPhee did a serviceable job on that last number, but I kept thinking that Ivy would have brought something else to the song entirely. Karen’s “Don’t Forget Me” felt like a pleading, a wish. I bet Ivy’s would have felt like a command. The show is so miscast, in that Hilty is clearly a Broadway performer with the chops for that kind of theater, and McPhee is more of a pop star who somehow keeps beating out the Broadway performer -- it doesn’t make logical sense. We are all supposed to suspend our logic and go with the idea that Karen’s the raw talent who is secretly a genius, but I don’t know why they keep pushing that narrative when clearly it isn’t true.

Hilty is the real genius in the Marilyn role -- even Anjelica Huston knows that, even if she couldn’t sway Derek -- and if I were here, I would be contemplating the fistful of pills as well. The show wants us to care about Karen and to despise Ivy, who sleeps with other people’s boyfriends and tries to sabotage everything. But the best person in real life is not always the best person for the job, especially when it comes to show business. I hope that next season they let Ivy redeem herself and take her place. Bernadette Peters needs something else to do besides look devastated.

Borle told the L.A. Times that next season will focus more on the nuts and bolts aspects of putting on a Broadway show, and less on the soapy drama, to which I say (like Sam) hallelujah! My favorite little bits of this episode were Julia and Tom trying to hammer out orchestrations and the stage manager trying to keep everyone happy during a crash run-through. I’d gladly take more of the technical behind-the-scenes sausage, which the pilot was so good at portraying with auditions rather than plot lines involving Dev or Michael Swift. I can’t even get up the energy to worry about the fate of Karen and Dev. She’s a star now, so I’m assuming that relationship is going to fizzle under her spotlight. As for Michael Swift, he may have impregnated Jules, but that doesn’t make him less creepy or predatory. All he has done is thwart their Chinese baby plans.

The only side character who remains compelling at the end is Ellis, who threatens to enact revenge on “Bombshell” while wearing a red devil suit. His little speech to Eileen about doing what needed to be done (a.k.a. nearly murdering a movie star) and how near-murderers never get coffee for anyone was preposterous, and he deserved to be fired. But part of me thinks that in 15 years, Ellis is going to be one of Broadway’s most successful producers. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty with peanut shavings or possibly blood, and showbiz tends to reward insane ruthlessness. I hope the second season explores this dark patch instead of just making him the villain. Ambition does have its place on Broadway, and I’m interested to see where Ellis lands once he learns to harness his.

And that’s all she wrote, folks. See you next year, when we hit the Broadway stage. Will Karen even do a hip thrust that doesn’t make her look like a fembot? Will Ivy channel Marilyn even more than she already does with an overdose? Will Nick Jonas give back the Degas? Will Ellis burn down a theater while he stands there cackling? Will Anjelica Huston ever sing again? And how long can Julia hide her belly beneath her flowy Eileen Fisher garb? All will be revealed soon. Until then, don’t forget Marilyn, or she will haunt you.

 The Songs!

“Mr and Mrs Smith” 2 out of 5 Jazz Hands. Karen has about as much chemistry with Michael Swift as Julia has with her own husband. Not a great start to her star turn.

“Howl” 3 out of 5 Jazz Hands. I really love this song and the jingoistic USO choreography, but I don’t love Karen in it. Ivy standing backstage imagining her own rendition (P.S. “Smash,” please stop with all the flashbacks in Season 2 -- it’s like shaking your own hand) doesn’t help Karen any, as she was so clearly better, effortless and charming at it. Karen gets through the number, but I am not seeing this extra spark that Derek tells Ivy about. She looks mechanical and scared.

“Don’t Forget Me” 4.5 out of 5 Jazz Hands. And then she brings it home, and it’s magical. This is one of Tom and Julia’s best songs yet. Maybe they should always cram in a new ending on the day of the show to keep things fresh. I wasn’t feeling Karen’s tragic sexuality in her suicide scene, but her begging not to be forgotten in this number made me forget how much better Ivy would have been and just focus on McPhee in the role. Because we are stuck with Karen as Marilyn going into Season 2 -- at least for a little while -- any number that makes her more likable is a good thing.


Christian Borle: Expect a 'Smash' reboot

'Smash' recap: And now it is time to pray

Complete 'Smash' coverage and episode recaps

-- Rachel Syme

Photo: Megan Hilty and Jaime Cepero. Credit: Will Hart /NBC

'America's Got Talent' recap: Howard Stern makes his debut

America's got talent
"America, are you ready for the revolution?" "America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon asked, standing on what appeared to be a rocky mountaintop, as the NBC talent show kicked off its seventh season Monday night.

"The show is about to go to a level it has never gone before," Howie Mandel said in the montage that followed, which included a clip of someone taking a hammer to a concrete block on someone else's crotch. 

Oh, "America's Got Talent," you wonder of hyperbole and cheese, you master evoker of the cringe, welcome back!

The "revolution" to which Cannon was referring was presumably the show's extremely well paid, highly controversial (before he even had a chance to do anything) new judge, Howard Stern.

Of course, the self-dubbed King of All Media is no stranger himself to cheesy hyperbole and making America cringe. But it's safe to say a lot of people – fans of "America's Got Talent," fans of Stern, the parenting group that's called for an ad boycott – didn't see how the boundary-pushing radio personality would be suitable for a family-friendly talent show: Would he, metaphorically speaking, take a hammer to "America's Got Talent's" delicate parts, they may have wondered?

I'm guessing the new judge's doubters weren't those people in the audience at the Los Angeles auditions chanting "How-ward, How-ward, How-ward" in the show's season premiere.

I don't remember anyone ever doing that for Piers Morgan.

But then, after only one night with Stern at the judging table, the memories of Morgan as a judge have already grown hazy and faint: pursed lips, nasty quips about Cannon's attire, a quick trigger finger on the buzzer, a toxic relationship with the other judges …

As an "America's Got Talent" judge, Stern, it may not startle you to learn, is nothing like Morgan. It seems we can look forward to him being, at turns, self-effacing and self-promoting, sincere and sassy, surprisingly in command and sometimes downright sentimental. Stern proved himself neither afraid to buzz (he confessed he liked the feeling of power) nor to encourage nor even to climb up onstage and bestow a warm hug to a weepy wannabe. He introduced himself as a man who knows how to assess talent and also what it's like to be told you can't do something and yet persevere. A stern judge and a sympathetic advocate all rolled into one.

Yes, he was funny and a bit bawdy: "Why did Piers Morgan give up this job?" he wondered as a comely female contestant positioned herself onstage. He repeatedly referenced his own "virginity" as a judge. And he commented that "stripper magician" Aoni Jackson's "man boobs" and diminutive package size might not help him realize his dreams. But come on, the guy was a "stripper magician"! For the most part, the shock jock was kind, almost fatherly, and far less shocking than some of the auditioning acts themselves.

But the best part is that all three judges – Stern and returning judges Mandel and Sharon Osborne -- seem to get along famously and to revel in their rapport. When Stern gently teased Mandel about his germ phobia or took a winking poke at Osborne when he advised an attractive, not terribly talented contestant to do as Osborne had and marry a wealthy man (cut to: Ozzy), it had none of Morgan's mean-spiritedness. And when the trio was briefly stuck in an elevator and Stern grew visibly uncomfortable, he gentlemanly ushered Osborne and Mandel's mother off first when the lift finally arrived safely.

OK, the gentleman may have been a little brusque.

"She's 80 years old. You trampled my mother," Mandel griped, amused.

"She's lived long enough. If I die, it's important to the show. Your mother's expendable," Stern quipped.

"My mother lived 80 years and then she met Howard," Mandel giggled.

And what of the talent on Monday's two-hour season premiere, which auditioned talent in Los Angeles and St. Louis?

Los Angeles highlights included William Close, who turned the entire theater into a musical instrument he called an Earth Harp and played it mesmerizingly; the crisply clogging Elements Dance Crew; an acrobatic sport-bike act called All Wheel Sport; the very young aerialist Amazing Elizabeth; rap freestyler Chris La Vrar, who swore he made up his lyrics "100% off the top of my head," though I have my doubts; and the adorable father-daughter singing act Jorge and Alexa, who made Stern express a desire to call his dad up and ask him why he didn't play guitar with him when he was a kid.

Top St. Louis contenders included cross-bow sharpshooter act Ben Black; this season's requisite glow-in-the-dark high-tech dance ensemble, Lightwire Theater; the Loyalty Dance Crew, who worked retail and fast food jobs but loved to dance; a singing waiter calling himself Simply Sergio (it was his rendition of "God Bless America" that brought Stern to the stage for a hug); and another very sweet father-daughter singing duo, street musicians Maurice and Shanice, whose "You've Got a Friend" showed off her beautiful alto. Stern called their act "perfection."

And the lowlights? A kooky lady who lets her cockatiels eat directly from her mouth, who sang … while covered with birds; a circus sideshow performer/stay-at-home dad who pierced his face with long needles (at least that's what it looked like through my fingers); the aforementioned "stripper magician" whose wand (ahem) Stern deemed too small.

"I'm really hopeful," Stern said at the end of Monday's show. "I feel we're on our way."

You know what, Howard? I feel that way, too.


Howard Stern: I've made weirdos stars for years

'America's Got Talent': Fans embrace Howard Stern debut

Review: Howard Stern's sweet debut on 'America's Got Talent'

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Kotton Kandy with Nick Cannon. Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC.

'America's Got Talent': Fans embrace Howard Stern debut

Howard Stern was tough on some of the contestants on the season premiere of "America's Got Talent." And the viewers seemed to crave it
Howard Stern was tough on some of the contestants on Monday's season premiere of "America's Got Talent." And the viewers seemed to crave it.

"I forgot how much I love Howard Stern," tweeted @OptiMISS_Prime.

"Never was a fan of Howard Stern but gotta say I'm loving him on the show," added @ShammyCW, expressing a point of view widely shared on Twitter.

Stern, the Sirius XM shock jock famed for his naughty ways, replaced Piers Morgan as the third judge on the show, which has for years been among summer's top-rated programs. The other judges are Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel.

Before the premiere, speculation had centered on whether Stern's R-rated sensibility -- porn stars and flatulence are among his favorite obsessions -- would fit with a prime-time broadcast talent show. Based on the initial reaction, viewers seem to think so.

On Monday's show, Stern was sometimes surprisingly warm, at one point climbing onstage to dance with Simply Sergio, a singer whose wobbly audition was redeemed by an impromptu version of "God Bless America." But he was also at times brutal. When one unfortunate contestant reported this his parents had passed away, Stern cracked: "Did they die of embarrassment?"

Not everyone is offering the thumbs-up, of course.

"Reading a pile of positive laudatory reviews of Howard Stern on America's Got Talent tonight," tweeted @mediageek. "Did we see the same show?"

But that was a minority opinion. Many viewers seemed to believe that NBC had succeeded in reinvigorating the show.

"Adding Howard Stern to #AGT seems to have been the best thing @NBC has done this year," tweeted @TheJustinColman.

What did you think of Stern on "AGT"?


Howard Stern's "AGT" gig raises ire

"AGT" clip shows Howard Stern in action

Howard Stern: I've made weirdos stars for years

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Host Nick Cannon, left, with Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel on "America's Got Talent." Credit: Mark Seliger / NBC

Review: Howard Stern's sweet debut on 'America's Got Talent'

Americas got talent judges

There is something sweetly old-fashioned about the phrase "talent show" -- like "quilting bee" or "sack race" or "bake off," it calls up images of small-town fun, of ordinary citizens showing off that extraordinary thing they do. And for all the audiovisual Sturm und Drang of the modern televised variety, it remains humble at its core.

NBC's "America's Got Talent," whose seventh -- seventh! -- season began Monday night, is the purest expression of the form, making room as it does for all manner of performing arts and crafts. The big news in its seventh -- seventh! -- season is the arrival of new judge Howard Stern, the self-proclaimed "king of all media," a claim that may or may not be taken as ironic. (It is not without some factual basis.)

Stern's deserved reputation for vulgarity -- and I intend no criticism -- has led some to worry, sincerely or for practical effect, that his presence would dirty a wholesome brand. The ever- if not over-vigilant Parents Television Council preemptively called for all the show's past advertisers to consider how this unholy alliance would reflect on their products, citing his "decades-long penchant for profanity, his affinity for degrading and sexualizing women.... There can be, and there must be, a presumption that Mr. Stern will only continue to conduct himself in precisely the same manner as he has done for decades."

That is, of course, a foolish presumption, which sells short the show's producers and misreads Stern, who has shown himself perfectly capable of good behavior on other people's turf. On his own shows, he (partially) plays a character named Howard Stern, who lives out the fantasies of the less imposing person he sees in the mirror. (On his first night on "AGT," he managed to impugn both his face and, an old theme with him, his genitals, as well as his relationship with his father.)

He was introduced, nevertheless, in a montage, set to the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," that referred to his reputation. Stern himself played the part, for a minute: "These executives at NBC must be out of their mind taking a risk on me." To the audience: "I say I won't make it through the first show -- what do you think?" But it quickly became evident that, like fellow judges Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel, he meant to play the game the way the game is meant to be played, because, to a deep degree, he believes in it.

Contestants on the opening night, appearing before large and noisy crowds in old, majestic theaters in Los Angeles and St. Louis, included a magician-cum-stripper; a crossbow artist; a man who put a scorpion in his mouth; a ventriloquist whose dummy was a live dog; a little girl on aerial silks; a bad Michael Jackson knockoff; a shirtless saxophonist; the player of a large "earth harp" strung from the stage to the balcony; a woman who sang covered in birds; and the usual dance crews and singers. (One, who called himself Simply Sergio, failed singing "The Girl From Ipanema" but snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by slipping in an operatic "God Bless America" that brought Stern, who had earlier deemed the singer "dreadful," onstage to embrace him.)

Monday's last act, not surprisingly, was the one that best fit the show's rags-to-riches theme, a father-and-daughter team of street performers who brought the crowd, themselves and at least one television critic to tears with a fine reading of "You've Got a Friend."

Some of them will be "going to Vegas" and the next round of competition. Others will fall back on other dreams.

"This is going to sound all sappy," Stern said, giving a thumbs up to one group, whose dance-and-light performance in which they seemed to become dinosaurs and flowers would take too long to accurately describe, "but we are the greatest country in the world; we have the most creative people."


Howard Stern's return to TV raises ire

Full Showtracker coverage of 'America's Got Talent'

Howard Stern talks about playing nice on 'America's Got Talent'

-- Robert Lloyd

 Photo: Nick Cannon, Sharon Osbourne, Howard Stern and Howie Mandel. Credit: Mark Seliger/NBC.

Upfronts 2012: Watch previews of 4 NBC midseason series

'1600 Penn'

In addition to its fall lineup, NBC released trailers from its mid-season shows on Monday as well. Among the projects waiting in the wings are the White House comedy "1600 Penn" (giving us a chance to see Bill Pullman back in a presidential role for the first time since "Independence Day" in 1996), the Dane Cook talk-radio comedy "Next Caller," the Jekyll-and-Hyde doctor drama "Do No Harm" and the Anne Heche housewife-as-prophet comedy "Save Me."

"Book of Mormon" star Josh Gad appears in and is one of the executive producers of "1600 Penn," which puts a typical wacky American family in the White House. Like NBC's previous White House hit, "The West Wing," this series boasts some insider knowledge — former presidential speechwriter Jon Lovett is also a producer.

Jenna Elfman plays the first lady in the series, which also stars Marth MacIsaac, Andre Holland and Amara Miller.

Dane Cook's series, "Next Caller," is the first series to be set in the world of satellite radio (as opposed to traditional broadcast radio), but the sexual dynamics are as old as the hills. Cook plays the nasty host of "Booty Calls," and his new partner is the perky NPR-trained feminist Stella (Collette Wolfe), who won't let Cook's character get away with business as usual.

Jeffrey Tambor and Jay Osmanski also star in this series created by former "Weeds" producer Stephen Falk.

In "Do No Harm," Steven Pasquale stars as a brilliant neurosurgeon who has a bit of a brain defect himself — he's got an evil alter-ego. And that evil alter-ego is starting to reassert itself after years of dormancy.

Former "Desperate Housewives" writer David Schulner created the drama series, which also stars Alana De La Garza, Mousa Kraish, Michael Esper, Ruta Gedmintas and Phylicia Rashad.

Anne Heche plays a Midwestern housewife who survives choking on a sandwich and believes that she now has a direct line to God in "Save Me," the comedy series from novelist John Scott Shepherd. Michael Landes plays her skeptical husband and Alexandra Breckinridge plays the "other woman" in their marriage.


Upfronts 2012: NBC aims to look beyond music

Upfronts 2012: Watch previews of NBC's 'Go On', 'Animal Practice'

Upfronts 2012: Watch previews of NBC's 'New Normal,' 'Guys With Kids'

— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: The cast of "1600 Penn." Credit: NBC.

Upfronts 2012: Watch previews of NBC's 'New Normal,' 'Guys With Kids'

Dads are the focus of two new comedies on NBC this fall, announced at the 2012 upfronts: "The New Normal" and "Guys With Kids" NBC is doubling down on the dads in the fall. In addition to the renewed "Up All Night," with stay-at-home dad Will Arnett, there are new comedies "The New Normal" and "Guys With Kids."

"Glee" and "American Horror Story" creator Ryan Murphy is behind "The New Normal," one of NBC's most anticipated new comedies.  The director-screenwriter co-created the series with "Glee" co-executive producer Ali Adler.

The series stars Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells as a gay couple looking to start a family; Georgia Kind plays the surrogate mother they recruit to help them.

Ellen Barkin also stars. The series is scheduled to air Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m.

Charlie Grandy, former writer for "The Office," "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" is behind "Guys With Kids." A traditional multi-camera sitcom starring Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger, it looks at three thirtysomething guys who have babies but aren't quite adults themselves.

Sara Rue, Tempestt Bledsoe and Jamie-Lynn Sigler play the (presumably) more mature women.

Jimmy Fallon is an executive producer on this series, which is to air Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.


Upfronts 2012: The end is near for "30 Rock"

Fall TV: NBC to get four nights of comedy plus "The Voice"

Upfronts 2012: Watch previews of "Revolution" and "Chicago Fire"

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Cast of "The New Normal." Credit: NBC

Upfronts 2012: Watch previews of NBC's 'Go On', 'Animal Practice'

Matthew Perry in "Go On"

"Friends" alum Matthew Perry is looking for another hit on NBC with "Go On," his latest series attempt after the early deaths of his previous series "Mr. Sunshine" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

This time, Perry is playing a sportscaster who joins a support group after suffering a grave personal loss and quickly becomes involved with all the colorful personalities there.

The series was created by writer Scott Silveri, who previously wrote for "Friends." TV comedy director Todd Holland ("Malcolm in the Middle") directed the pilot. It also stars Julie White, Laura Benanti, Suzy Nakamura, Allison Miller, Khary Payton and Tyler James Williams.

VIDEO: Watch 2012 TV previews

"Go On" airs Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Animals doing cute things seems to be the name of the game in "Animal Practice," another NBC comedy starring "Weeds'" Justin Kirk as a wacky doctor in an animal hospital.

Tyler Labine, formerly of "Reaper" and "Sons of Tucson," also stars along with Bobby Lee, Kym Whitley and Betsy Sodaro.

"Animal Practice" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m.


Fall TV: NBC to get four nights of comedy plus 'The Voice'

Fall TV: Fox unveils 2012-13 schedule; 'Glee' moves to Thursdays

'Smash's' Christian Borle: Expect show to be 'rebooted' in Season 2

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Matthew Perry in "Go On." Credit: NBC

Upfronts 2012: NBC giving thanks for Patriots-Jets

Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets

With the NFL games consistently drawing big audiences, NBC is riding the pigskin for all it's worth.

The network will air 19 games this season, one more than in recent years. The extra contest will come on Thanksgiving, when the Jets and Patriots will square off in prime time. The Turkey Day game for the last six years has aired on the NFL Network.

At its upfront presentation in New York on Monday, the network promoted Sunday night match-ups such as the Lions and Packers and Steelers and Broncos and said that each of the 12 teams that made the playoffs last year will have at least one Sunday night appearance.

VIDEO: Watch 2012 TV previews

The NFL season kicks off on NBC with the Cowboys and Giants on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The unusual midweek slot comes as a result of the Democratic National Convention, whose linchpin speech from President Obama is set for Thursday, Sept. 6.

The network touted its Sunday night telecast and its "Football Night in America," with the games surpassing "American Idol" in overall viewers as well as in the 18-49 demographic this year for the first time.

"In six years, the NFL and NBC have carved out a whole new American tradition," said NBC Sports chief Mark Lazarus.


Fall TV: Fox unveils new lineup 

TV networks seek younger viewers

Fall TV: NBC's comedy-heavy lineup

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets. Credit: NBC/Paul Drinkwater


Upfronts 2012: NBC aims to look beyond music

Katharine McPhee, left, and Megan Hilty perform at NBC's upfront.

NEW YORK -- NBC is not going to turn into one big musical.

The troubled network relaunched its hit “The Voice”  this year after the Super Bowl. That helped bring in big numbers for the show’s early episodes and made it a nice lead-in for the network’s heavily hyped midseason musical drama “Smash” —  which, though by no means a ratings powerhouse, pulls in solid numbers. 

So it makes sense that music from both shows was rampant at NBC’s upfront presentation to advertisers held at Radio City Music Hall on Monday. 

“Smash” stars Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty performed the ballad “Let Me Be Your Star,” before being joined onstage by “The Voice” judge s— Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera — in their signature red revolving chairs (which will get more air time when the series returns in the fall).

 Advertisers were even shown a clip, introduced onscreen by “30 Rock’s” Tina Fey and late night host Jimmy Fallon — imagining what the upcoming season might look like if it went through the “Smash” machine: with a montage showcasing actors from “Parks and Recreation,” “The Office,” “Law & Order:  SVU” and even “Grimm,” belting out mid-scene.

Then there was a performance by “The Voice” winner Jermaine Paul. And yet another performance by Katherine McPhee.

But there’s no need to break out the headphones.

“I’m not hijacking the network and turning it into a musical,” Greenblatt assured.

Continue reading »

Upfronts 2012: The end is near for '30 Rock'

Tina fey
NBC confirmed Monday that "30 Rock" would end its seven-season run this season with a final 13 episodes.

Speaking Monday at his network's upfront presentation, held once again at Radio City Music Hall, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt called the multiple Emmy-winning show "synonymous with wit and originality" and said it would conclude with an hour-long series finale. He later told Show Tracker that he thought the series would be "charged up" as it went into its home stretch.

"30 Rock" returned this year in January, its debut delayed by creator and star Tina Fey's pregnancy.

VIDEO: Watch 2012 TV previews

It led off NBC's prime-time slot for the first time, airing at the top of the network's Thursday comedy block at 8 pm. It will reprise that slot next year.

NBC will follow "30 Rock" with "Up All Night" with mainstays "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation" rounding out its Thursday comedies.

Despite the exit of another "Office" cast member (Mindy Kaling, who leaves for a new sitcom on Fox) Greenblatt said the workplace show "still [has] creative juice," noting "explosive story twists" in the coming season.


Fall TV: Fox unveils new lineup 

Fall TV: NBC's comedy heavy lineup

TV Networks seek younger viewers

— Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in "30 Rock." Photo credit: Ali Goldstein / NBC


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