NBC's New Fall Schedule: It'll Be Thin, But Will It Be Any Good?


After weeks of hand wringing and a weekend of rumours about whether old standard Law & Order or upstart Chuck would be renewed, NBC is set to unveil its fall lineup to advertisers at its “infront” presentation today.

(The actual schedule won’t be revealed until May 19, at the same time as the other networks’ upfronts.)

The Peacock has already renewed several series for its pared down fall, which includes the five-nights-a-week Jay Leno Show at 10 p.m.

The fate of other shows such as My Name is Earl, Law and Order and Chuck is still uncertain (and probably won’t be decided today) as the NBC and those shows’ production companies continue to negotiate budgets and licensing fees in light of dwindling ad dollars. The network is delaying its decision on several shows in part because network execs have still yet to see several pilots; the screening process was halted on Thursday when NBC programming exec Nora O’Brien suddenly died of a brain aneurysm.

Regardless, here’s how things stand before NBC’s presentation, based on reports from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily, TVGuide.com, TV Week and TV by the Numbers.

Series already renewed:

  • 30 Rock
  • The Biggest Loser
  • The Celebrity Apprentice
  • Friday Night Lights (for two seasons, following the same schedule with DirecTV the network used this year)
  • Heroes
  • Law and Order: SVU
  • The Office
  • Southland (13 episodes)

Shows likely to be renewed today:

  • Medium (it was reported over the weekend that the show had been renewed, but NBC has yet to confirm the decision; probably for 13-18 episodes)
  • Parks and Recreation (star Aziz Ansari is expected to open for Ben Silverman at today’s presentation)

Pilots likely to be picked up:

  • Community (Sony Pictures’ half-hour comedy starring Chevy Chase and The Soup host Joel McHale as a guy who becomes part of an unusual extended family after he enrolls in a community college course.)
  • Trauma (Universal’s paramedic drama from Friday Night Lights vets Jeff Reiner, Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey is said to have gotten high marks from execs when it screened last week.)
  • Parenthood (The pilot for Universal and Imagine TV’s adaptation of Ron Howard’s movie isn’t done yet, but NBC execs are reportedly “supremely confident” in what they’ve seen and in showrunner Jason Katims (also from FNL) and director Thomas Schlamme) 
  • Either Universal’s 100 Questions for Charlotte Payne, about a young woman in New York using a dating service, or the Bradley Whitford buddy-cop comedy Off Duty

Returning series and pilots on which a decision isn’t expected today:

  • Chuck (Despite one bare-bones report from Nikki Finke that NBC would renew the show today, star Zach Levi told E! Online on Friday that exec producer Josh Schwartz said they wouldn’t find out for another week or two. It’s possible that over the weekend NBC execs decided to put fans—and TV journalists sick of the seemingly endless “Save Chuck” campaign—out of their misery and will announce a decision on the show, which seems likely to be renewed, today, but until NBC announces it, nothing’s official.)
  • Law and Order (The show is likely to return for its 20th season, but costs are still being worked out.)
  • My Name is Earl (Last week the show looked dead, but NBC and producer 20th Century Fox are still working out the financials for a fifth-season pickup.)
  • Legally Mad (The David E. Kelley pilot has gotten mixed reviews but the network thinks the show’s premise and cast has potential, and, more importantly, a big penalty payment will be due if NBC doesn’t order the series.)
  • Lost and Found (The Dick Wolf female detective series for Universal also got mixed reviews but NBC’s considering it for a mid-season pickup.)
  • Day One (The postapocalyptic drama is also being eyed for midseason, with both THR and Variety saying the network is stockpiling midseason dramas in case Leno’s 10 p.m. show turns out to be a ratings disaster. Would the network actually cancel Jay Leno after everything Jeff Zucker and co. went through to keep him in the fold?)

Series expected to be cancelled:

  • Kings
  • Life
  • Kath & Kim
  • Knight Rider



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