Why is Community moving to Fridays? Is this the comedy's final season? Is it 30 Rock's final season, too?
NBC boss Robert Greenblatt (chairman, NBC Entertainment) fielded these questions and more when he spoke with reporters after NBC unveiled their official lineup for the fall. Some other issues addressed included Smash's absence from the fall schedule and what new showrunner Josh Safran (Gossip Girl) will bring to the show, as well as the decision to cancel ambitious new drama Awake.
Plus, will Community showrunner Dan Harmon be returning for season four? Find out...
Community's New Home: NBC's most shocking lineup change had to be moving the cult favorite comedy and Whitney to Friday nights (paired with freshman breakout Grimm). "We wanted to get more comedy on the schedule in general," Greenblatt explains. "We think it will be good for the health of the network...there's an opportunity for comedy on Friday, provided we can put shows there that already have audiences."
Final Seasons?: While reports have suggested that this will be 30 Rock's last season, and most likely Community's as well, Greenblatt denies that any decisions have been made. "As they age, it's obviously something you look at. We haven't definitely said that with any of them yet," he says. Of showrunner Dan Harmon's future with Community, Greenblatt says, "I expect Dan's voice to be part of the show somehow, I'm just not sure if that means him running it day-to-day or consulting on it."
Smash's Delayed Opening: The breakout (and polarizing) freshman musical drama starring Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee is nowhere to be seen on the network's fall schedule, with J.J. Abrams' new drama Revolution snagging the coveted post-The Voice timeslot on Monday. However, fans of Smash shouldn't be too concerned with their favorite show being held for midseason. "We're going to do 16-18 [episodes] this year," Greenblatt says, adding that the network wants to "run it sequentially week after week with new episodes" beginning in the winter. He gushes, "I couldn't be happier with Smash."
Gossip Girl executive producer Josh Safran is set to take over showrunner duties on Smash in season two and Greenblatt was quick to rave about the new addition. "I'm thrilled that he's joining the show," he says. "He's a great storyteller. I think he's going to raise the bar for us." Greenblatt adds that Safran will help improve the show's character arcs, which have attracted some heat from critics and viewers during the first season.
Putting Awake to Sleep: While Awake was one of the most ambitious dramas of the TV season, it unfortunately failed to connect with audiences (its last original episodes garnered 2.5 million viewers). "Awake was a creative endeavor that we tried that we unfortunately couldn't bring a large enough audience to," Greenblatt explains, citing the shows "complicated" premise as one of the reasons its didn't bring in bigger numbers.
Another show Greenblatt was sad to see go? "I've said it so many times, Prime Suspect was a favorite show of mine. It was an excellent show. We tried many different ways to get that audience to grow and not only did it not grow, it kept going the wrong way, We just had to make the really tough call to wrap it up and it's a really tough call."
The Office's New Hires: Greenblatt says most of the cast of The Office, including Rainn Wilson and B.J. Novak will return for the comedy's ninth season. "I expect to see all of that cast back except Mindy Kaling, who is going on to her own show, which we're thrilled about. We're thrilled for her." He also teases that fans should "expect some new faces to drop in" to The Office next season.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)