After making the rounds at every major network, David E. Kelley's developing DC Comics adaptation of Wonder Woman was finally picked up by NBC, says Entertainment Weekly. The deal comes on the heels of the official Comcast takeover of the company, as Robert Greenblatt steps in for Angela Bromstad to handle primetime programming.
Kelley's take on the iconic Amazonian princess is said to skew closely to the comic book source material. The heroine will have her signature Lasso, handcuffs and plane, which will help garner votes of confidence from fans eager to see their favorite female crime fighter revitalized after a lengthy absence in mass media. Insiders also say that the tone is serious and will not be campy in the least; another sign of good things to come.
Kelley is a longtime, respected creative force on the small screen. As creator of hit series as wide-ranging as Doogie Hauser M.D., The Practice and Boston Legal, he's left his mark on the entertainment industry and, more specifically, has gained a reputation for developing female-oriented staples like Ally McBeal and Picket Fences. But Wonder Woman is a different animal and NBC doesn't have the greatest track record with genre fare (see: Heroes, Bionic Woman, The Event). With a feature film version of the character in constant limbo, fans and enthusiasts will be even more judgmental of this serialized take on the superheroine. As the source points out, the biggest question now is who will don the Tiara this fall?
Returning to a quip he's made before, Jay Leno on Thursday night told his audience that NBC stands for "Never Believe Your Contract." (Scroll down for the video clip.)
Further, in the wake of rumors that his future was being reconsidered by the network, he added, "If we did get canceled, it will give us time to do some traveling. I understand that Fox is beautiful this time of year."
Following is a round-up of reports as to what NBC, Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon's futures may hold.
On Thursday, speculation swirled following a post on FTLive.com claiming that NBC was "pulling the plug" on Leno's primetime show and TMZ's subsequent story that said a time-shift scenario was in the offing. (This scenario, according to reports, would see Leno move to 11:35 p.m. for a half-hour program, with O'Brien and Fallon shifting back a half hour to 12:05 a.m. and 1:05 a.m., respectively).
NBC then issued two statements, one denying that Leno was canceled but acknowledging that "it has presented some issues for our affiliates" and the other stating that the network brass "remain committed to keeping Conan O'Brien on NBC."
The Wrap notes that NBC executives are worried that a significant number of local stations could start bailing on The Jay Leno Show as early as this spring.
NBC has been preparing backup plans for months now, insiders told TW, which include Leno at 8, Leno at 11, O'Brien at 12:05 a.m....
The New York Times reports that NBC executives held extensive discussions with both Leno and O'Brien on Thursday. One senior executive said that the moves were still being thrashed out by the representatives of each of the stars, but that an agreement was essentially in place.
Insiders, according to Variety, were confirming late Thursday that Leno had been offered -- and had accepted -- a return to the 11:35 p.m. time slot. In this scenario, O'Brien would retain the Tonight Show name.
Deadline Hollywood cites a source who says, "Conan hasn't agreed to anything yet, especially not to push back to 12:05 a.m." NBC has the contractual right to start The Tonight Show as late as 12:05 a.m., which it sometimes does for sports or news, Deadline explains.
But will O'Brien accept a demotion to 12 a.m. and stay on NBC, or leave for another network, thereby breaking his lucrative contract?
The exact terms of O'Brien's contract are not known, but he is rumored to have built into the deal he made five years ago that he would host The Tonight Show or NBC would owe a penalty of as much as $45 million.
If his show continues to be called The Tonight Show, NBC may not be in breach.
However, Broadcasting & Cable reports that NBC has the option to bench O'Brien for the remainder of his contract but keep paying him.
O’Brien, who was given the Tonight gig in 2004 before moving his entire life out to LA from New York this past summer to start the job, has to be weighing his options at this point. His handlers are likely mulling different possibilities including pitching their client to both Fox and ABC. But neither network appears immediately likely to make a play for O'Brien, insiders told Variety.
A move to Fox would be tricky. The network has considered getting back in the late-night game but its O&Os and affiliates do fine with off-net syndicated fare in those hours.
NBC is likely hoping that O'Brien will realize there are few other options in late night: He'd still have the Tonight Show franchise, and he'd still air a half hour earlier than he did on Late Night.
His best move may be to sit tight, The Los Angeles Times suggests. Fox was interested in him years ago, but a senior executive there indicated that may not be the case anymore. Plus, Leno can't go on forever, can he?
Ultimately, if the time-shift scenario does come to pass, NBC will have to fill prime-time hours very quickly. As Bloomberg reported at the end of the year, the network has plans to order 18 pilots for the fall season (many more than any other in recent memory), but the new series would not be ready before summer.
This weekend, both NBC Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin and prime-time entertainment president Angela Bromstad will appear at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, where Leno questions are sure to be at the fore. Further, NBC is coming up against its Jan. 21 affiliate meeting, where it would face disgruntled station owners whose local newscasts have been hit hard by an anemic Leno lead-in.
Any change on Leno would represent an embarrassing about-face after NBC's numerous public statements pledging to give Leno months, even years, to grow into the slot; the network always emphasized that the show was a 52-week strategy, as The Hollywood Reporter, among many others, notes.
Meanwhile, NBC is also in the throes of being acquired by Comcast, and the Leno shuffle could represent a blow to NBC's executive leadership -- especially since Leno impacted the network precisely as industry experts predicted and performed in its time period just as network execs repeatedly claimed that they anticipated.
A person close to NBC Universal said Comcast isn't involved in any way in Leno deliberations, The Wall Street Journal notes, and that the timing of the discussions and Comcast's agreement to buy control of NBC Universal is a coincidence.
The revised lineup would go into effect after NBC concludes its coverage of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 28.
On Dec. 31, in a story that got little traction due to the holiday, Bloomberg reported that NBC will increase production of new shows to the most since 2003 to reverse seven straight seasons of declining ratings. In stark contrast to last year's 11, there are 18 pilots planned for the season starting in September 2010, prime-time entertainment president Angela Bromstad told the news agency.
According to Bromstad, "In success we became used to making fewer and fewer pilots," following the heyday of Seinfeld and Friends. "We have to take more swings, take more shots creatively, and have more back-up," she told Bloomberg.
NBC's prime-time audience is headed for an eighth straight decline after it moved Jay Leno to 10 p.m., replacing more expensive scripted programs.
"We have so many holes that we have to essentially rebuild the schedule," Bromstad said. "Not having the additional five hours has certainly relieved some of the pressure."
Blogger Catharine P. Taylor at Bnet.co.uk picked up the story yesterday and suggested, "It seems like ordering so many pilots, just might leave (NBC) with some additional wiggle room if it decides to deep-six the 'Leno' show, which seems a likelihood not only because of the show's ratings but because of the unfortunate ripple effect the show has had on local news and the network's late-night schedule. While the chances of any pilot making it on air are very low, and there's of course an even lower chance that a show will actually catch on, consider the following: NBC is ordering up enough pilots to fill the 8 to 10 slot almost one and a half times if the entire current schedule were to be obliterated."
While she's not saying that Bromstad is stretching the truth in what she said, Taylor writes, "ordering up so many pilots is a great way to hedge one's bets, and if ever a broadcast network needed to do some hedging, it's NBC."
"With rival broadcast networks riding a relatively high number of new hit shows premiering last fall, NBC appears to have the unenviable task of having to reprogram well over 20 percent of its prime-time schedule for next season," Tuna Amobi, an analyst with Standard & Poor's, told Bloomberg.
NBC will make 10 hour-long dramas and eight 30-minute comedies for the next TV season, Bromstad told Bloomberg. But while production will rise, the network is spending less on each pilot.
Meanwhile, The Wrap reports that NBC Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin will appear on stage alongside Bromstad on Sunday at the TV Critics Association Press Tour. This will be Gaspin's first TCA visit since assuming the top job at the network; his absence in August met with grumbling from critics, says TW.
The Queen actress is famed for her role as police chief Jane Tennison in the crime series, which ran from 1991 until 2006, for which she won two Emmy Awards.
Now television bosses in America want to base a new show on the hit programme's format, which will have its two-hour pilot written by Without A Trace's Hank Steinberg.
NBC's Angela Bromstad says, "Our intention is to create another classic television show from this brilliant original format. Hank Steinberg was key in helping us secure this project, and we are incredibly excited about this modern vision for the show."
The programme marks a new collaboration between networks ITV and NBC - earlier this year the British company signed up to create a U.K. version of NBC's Law and Order.
Jim Rockford is coming back. NBC, Universal Media Studios and Steve Carell's Carousel Television have enlisted House creator/exec producer David Shore to oversee an update of the classic 1974-80 private eye series The Rockford Files. James Garner starred as the ex-con investigator in the series that also put Stephen J. Cannell on the map as a writer-producer.
Garner's Emmy-winning portrayal of the ex-con private eye who lived in a trailer in Malibu turned Jim Rockford into one of series TV's most indelible TV characters ever.
Shore, who knows a thing or two about creating indelible characters, told Variety that as a fan of the show himself, he's well aware of how high the bar is set for the remake.
"It's one of the shows that made me want to become a writer," Shore said.
Shore said he intends to stick with the basic foundation of the show while moving it into the present day.
"What makes Rockford timeless is that he's vulnerable, he's flawed. He's used to hustling and getting hustled," Shore said. "Sometimes he's a hero and sometimes he runs away."
"The minute I heard this I said, 'Let's get it on for midseason' ... but we're going to take our time and get it right," said Angela Bromstad, president of primetime entertainment for NBC Entertainment and UMS. "We know that David has the right sensibility as a writer to take on this kind of big character."
The original Rockford was co-created by Cannell and Roy Huggins. The latter created Maverick -- the offbeat Western that made Garner a star -- The Fugitive and other shows.
Like a lot of ‘70s shows, Rockford was a training ground for a series of future biz heavyweights including David Chase, Juanita Bartlett, Chas Floyd Johnson and actors Dennis Dugan and Tom Selleck. The supporting cast included Noah Beery Jr., Stuart Margolin, Joe Santos and Gretchen Corbett.
Full story: http://www.hollywoodwiretap.com/?module=news&action=story&id=38646
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