NBC still fine-tuning Thursday evenings

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PASADENA, Calif. -- NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt acknowledged both the network's strides (No. 1 in the 18-49 demo; No. 2 in total viewers behind CBS) and its continued Achilles heel: a low-rated Thursday night comedy lineup.

He said he's "bullish" on prospects for "Parks and Recreation" to return for the 2014-15 TV season. A reporter noted that during this current TV critics press tour several network executives have expressed bullishness about the future of many low-rated series.

"Do you think it means bull-[expletive]?" Mr. Greenblatt asked, possibly reading reporters' minds. " 'Parks' is gonna have a seventh season. How's that for bullish?"


Mr. Greenblatt did not say he was as bullish about the return of "Community," but he said it was possible the comedy could return. He expressed disappointment in the low ratings for "Sean Saves the World" and "The Michael J. Fox Show."

NBC executives don't rule out moving comedies off Thursday, but the network's problems with Thursday ratings could be short-lived: Mr. Greenblatt did not deny reports that NBC will bid to broadcast the NFL's Thursday night games starting in September. (Fox, CBS and ESPN have also bid for rights to Thursday NFL games, according to Reuters.)

NBC's next big deal will be its Feb. 6-23 broadcast of the Winter Olympics, the last Jay Leno-hosted edition of "The Tonight Show" on Feb. 6 and the debut of "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" on Feb. 17 and "Late Night with Seth Meyers" on Feb. 24.

Mr. Fallon will visit Mr. Leno's "Tonight Show" on Feb. 3 for a passing of the baton; Mr. Leno's final guests will be Billy Crystal (his first guest on May 25, 1992) and Garth Brooks.

Mr. Greenblatt said even though Mr. Leno's "Tonight Show" continues to rank No. 1, he has no regrets about the decision to replace him with Mr. Fallon, whose audience tends to skew younger than Mr. Leno's, which is more appealing to advertisers.

"This network has been incredibly fortunate to have had a talent like Jay on our team since 1992," Mr. Greenblatt said. "I'm very much hoping that we'll enter into a new relationship with him."

Mr. Greenblatt said he'd like Mr. Leno to host specials or other programs for the network, though he said he's fine, too, with the more likely outcome that Mr. Leno will go to another network.

NBC had great success with its live "Sound of Music" telecast in December, so it has already scheduled a live musical for Dec. 4, 2014: "Peter Pan."

NBC gave a 10-episode, straight-to-series order to "Emerald City," a reimagining of the L. Frank Baum books that inspired "The Wizard of Oz" and "Wicked." And the network ordered an eight-episode miniseries, "The Slap," written by Jon Robin Baitz ("Brothers & Sisters"), about a man who slaps another couple's misbehaving child and the lawsuit that results from the incident.

'Bachelor' controversy

Juan Pablo Galavis, the latest star of ABC's "The Bachelor," may not be ready for prime time. Or he may need some remedial media training.

In an interview with Sean Daly of thetvpage.com at ABC's stars party Friday night, Mr. Galavis said he didn't think there should be a gay "Bachelor."

"I respect [gay people] but, honestly, I don't think it's a good example for kids," Mr. Galavis said before going into the routine defense of "I have gay friends."

Mr. Galavis has a 5-year-old child and will be searching for a stepmother for her on a reality TV show.

But he didn't stop there, continuing, "There's this thing about gay people ... it seems to me, and I don't know if I'm mistaken or not ... but they're more 'pervert' in a sense. And to me the show would be too strong ... too hard to watch."

Some celebrities weighed in on the hypocrisy, including actress Martha Plimpton ("Raising Hope"), who tweeted, "Really. Tell us more about perversion, Guy Shopping For A Wife On A Game Show."

By early afternoon Saturday, ABC, the show's producers and its production company issued a condemnation: "Juan Pablo's comments were careless, thoughtless and insensitive, and in no way reflect the views of the network, the show's producers or studio."

Not long after, Mr. Galavis issued a "sorry if anyone was offended" non-apology on his Facebook page in which he blamed the reporter for taking his words out of context and his own faulty English. (He grew up speaking Spanish in Venezuela).

"What I meant to say was that gay people are more affectionate and intense and for a segment of the TV audience this would be too racy to accept," Mr. Galavis wrote in part. "The show is very racy as it is and I don't let my 5-year-old daughter watch it. Once again, I'm sorry for how my words were taken. I would never disrespect anyone."

A gay variation on "The Bachelor" already aired: Bravo's low-rated 2003 reality show "Boy Meets Boy."

Mr. Galavis issued a more straightforward, contrite apology through GLAAD, which said, in part, "I have heard from many gay Latinos today who are hurt because of what I said and I apologize."

WTAE pre-empts sitcoms

Channel 4 will pre-empt ABC's Tuesday night, 8-10 p.m., for basketball (Clemson at Pitt), including a rerun of "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" and new episodes of "The Goldbergs" and "Trophy Wife."

"The Goldbergs" will air at 1:08 a.m. Wednesday on WTAE, followed by "Trophy Wife" at 1:38 a.m.

Channel surfing

Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander) from the "Thor" movies will make a guest appearance on an upcoming episode of ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD." ... Roy Garber, one of the stars of A&E's "Shipping Wars," died Friday of a heart attack at age 49. He owned and operated Arbie's Team Transport in New Hampshire.

A portion of this column originally appeared online in the Tuned In Journal blog. Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen is attending the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Follow RobOwenTV at Twitter or Facebook. Call 412-263-2582 or email rowen@post-gazette.com.

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