NBC Plans ‘SNL’ Election Specials, Plots New Comedy Strategy

by | July 24, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Fall TV Preview 2012, Saturday Night Live

Justin Kirk and Crystal the Monkey of 'Animal Practice' (Photo: NBC)

As NBC heads into the new fall season, the network is proud as a peacock to declare that they are no longer in last place.

“We’re very happy to be Number 3 for the season in the adult 18-45 demo,” said NBC Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt. “We haven’t finished above fourth place since the 2003-2004 season,” he added.

Greenblatt was on hand Tuesday to talk to TV critics about the network’s rebuilding strategy at the Television Critics Association annual summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills.

One of the much discussed topics was NBC’s plan to “broaden” their comedies, which means viewers can look forward this fall to less “boutique” sitcoms such as “Community” and “Parks and Recreation,” and more “mainstream” comedies about “animals and babies,” like the new sitcom from Jimmy Fallon called “Guys with Kids” and “Animal Practice” — which stars Crystal the Monkey (from “The Hangover II”) as Dr. Rizzo.

Other tidbits from NBC’s TCA presentation:

~ NBC will air two live prime-time “Saturday Night Live” election specials on Thursday, Sept. 20 and Thursday, Sept. 27.

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~ NBC will take advantage of the hugely advantageous Olympics platform by rolling out new series early, as well as unveiling a six-minute teaser of the upcoming drama “Revolution” on Saturday, August 4 at approximately 10:54 p.m. (ET), following the swimming competition (expected to feature U.S. gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps).

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~”The Voice“: “We’re obviously cautious about expanding it,” Greenblatt said of the network’s decision to bring the show back for another cycle this fall. But they’ve found “exciting” ways to keep the competition between the judges interesting.

~ On the end of “Community“: “I would categorically not rule out that this is not the last season of ‘Community’,” Greenblatt said. He also said that the sitcom, which moves to Friday nights this fall, COULD be extended beyond the 13 episodes ordered for season 4, adding “I would love nothing more” than for the show to continue.

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~ Greenblatt confirmed that Jennifer Hudson will appear in the first three of four episodes of “Smash” for Season 2.

~”Smash” also has a new showrunner on board for Season 2: “With the new showrunner, we will do better with the arching of the storylines and have more consistency with the characters through the season.” “I’m inordinately proud of ‘Smash’ on so many levels,” Greenblatt added. “The complexity of producing that show each week — I’m in awe of what we can do each week.”

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~ On “The Today Show” and Ann Curry’s departure: “My heart goes out to Ann. Shows go through transitions, they are always difficult…I have no doubt it will rebound,” Greenblatt said.