NBC News, Brian Williams Developing Primetime Show

by | May 13, 2011 at 7:28 AM | TV News

Brian Williams (Photo: Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

Brian Williams (Photo: Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) ā€“ NBC is developing a weekly newsmagazine to be hosted by “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

The news comes as NBC is set to unveil its fall slate Sunday and make its pitch to advertisers in a presentation Monday in New York.

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The NBC News hour is a contender for the fall schedule, but it’s unlikely to be a major part of the network’s presentation because the show is still in early stages of development.

A newsmagazine is an economical way for the ratings-challenged NBC to fill an hour of primetime. Sources say it will have a newsier focus and eschew true crime — a staple of the current crop of broadcast newsmagazines. NBC News insiders are describing it as “hard news with attitude.”

An NBC News spokesperson declined to comment except to say, “We always have and always will be looking for opportunities to showcase the strengths and the talent of NBC News.”

Last year, NBC News executives considered super-sizing “Nightly News” to an hour but abandoned the idea after it proved too difficult to get affiliates onboard.

With the exception of “60 Minutes,” all of the broadcast newsmagazines air on Friday or Saturday, nights the networks’ entertainment divisions have somewhat abandoned. But the new NBC News hour is said to be a contender for a berth in the early part of the week.

For his part, Williams, a familiar presence on the nighttime talk show circuit, has become a highly visible ambassador of not just the news division but the network overall, hosting “Saturday Night Live” and making cameo appearances on “30 Rock.” His newscast has been atop the evening news ratings for 86 consecutive weeks. He inherited his lead from Tom Brokaw. Meanwhile NBC’s entertainment division has been stuck in the ratings basement for years.

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