From the Fallon to the Olympics, this is NBC's time for big moves



PASADENA, Cal. -- NBC is trying some familiar draws – from “Peter
Pan” to Dorothy’s “Oz,” from Katherine Heigl to a multi-tasking Amy Poehler –
in its ongoing comeback attempt.

That won’t be easy, as shown by the decline of its Thursdays
from “must-see” to don’t-see. A recent “Michael J. Fox Show” rerun drew 3.1
million viewers, one-third of “The Crazy Ones” on CBS. “We’re really unhappy we
can’t find an audience for that show,” said programming chief Robert
Greenblatt.


But on one Thursday in December, a live “Sound of Music”
with Carrie Underwood drew 18 million. Now he’s planning a follow-up musical – “Peter
Pan,” not yet cast – for Dec. 4, from the same producers.


NBC is also believed to be in the bidding for a package of Thursday
pro-football games, moving from the NFL Network to, possibly, broadcast.
Greenblatt said the notion of a four-comedy Thursday – once an NBC power spot –
may disappear.


Still, Jennifer Salke, the NBC Entertainment president, said
the network is likely to have as many comedies as it does now. Greenblatt said
he’s sure Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation” will be back. Poehler – who has just
won a Golden Globe as an actress – has also signed a producing deal; her first
pilot will have Natasha Lyonne as a young woman, working as an aide to
opinionated oldsters.


Also, Greenblatt told reporters:


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Heigl – who left “Grey’s Anatomy” to do movies –
may be back on TV. She’s producing and starring in “State of Affairs,” as a CIA
advisor to the president.


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Jay Leno – “truly one of the nicest people” in
show business – will have his final late-night show on Feb. 6. Billy Crystal –
his first guest, 22 years ago – will be there, with Garth Brooks. On the two days
before that, guests will be Matthew McConaughey, Charles Barkley, Sandra
Bullock and Blake Shelton.


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Just before that, Jimmy Fallon will be on Leno’s
show Feb. 3. Fallon moves into the “Tonight” spot on Feb. 17, airing at
midnight during the final week of the Winter Olympics. A week later, he moves
into the 11:35 p.m. spot, with Seth Meyers at 12:35 a.m.


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That night (Feb. 24) will be the key one. It’s
the first day after the Olympics, launching a new round of “The Voice” (with
Usher and Shakira returning) and the return of “The Blacklist.”


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Also promoted during the Olympics will be an
all-new Sunday – a reality show (“American Dream Builders) hosted by Nate
Berkus, and two high-stakes dramas, “Believe” and “Crisis.”


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The old notion of mini-series is back. NBC has
ordered a 10-episode “Emerald City” (with a 20-year-old Dorothy entering Oz)
and an eight-episode “The Slap,” a family drama from Jon Robin Baitz of “Brothers
& Sisters.”