For the first time since Dan Harmon was removed from Community as showrunner, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt stepped in front of critics and reporters to field questions about the 2011-2012 season. Oh, and to give an "everything is going to be OK!" message to Community fans who are hesitant about a Harmon-less season.
Plus, Greenblatt spoke about Smash's new boss, Josh Safran, and how he'll fix season one's inconsistencies. And there are changes a-comin' to The Voice…
Six Seasons and a Movie? "Community is a show that has been always on the bubble, and we decided to bring it back again and see what a fourth season will do for us," Greenblatt said on renewing the NBC fan favorite. "The reason that we did 13 episodes of that is because we really want to get more comedies on the schedule. We said, 'Let's do shorter seasons of this show,' which isn't to say we couldn't decide at some point to extend those seasons longer. I would categorically not rule out that it's not the last season of Community. I would love nothing more than for Community to have a following on Friday and to continue it."
Dan Harmon's Exit: The NBC boss very delicately explained the decision not to continue Community with its original creator, which has been a sensitive subject over the past couple of months for fans. "Every so often it's time to make a change with a showrunner, and you evaluate the creative and how the show is run and how the writing staff works, and sometimes you want to freshen the show and we decided it was time to do that on Community. No disrespect to anyone."
The Voice Times Two! While its Fox counterparts American Idol and The X Factor are sticking to just one cycle per year, The Voice will now air in the fall and spring, and NBC isn't too worried about overstaying its reality welcome.
"I will just say that almost every reality franchise does two cycles a season, and one could argue that American Idol and X Factor are the same show in many respects—one in the fall, one in the spring," Greenblatt says. "We're obviously cautious about expanding it, but we've also done some things to the format, which I think are going to ensure that it is an even better show in the fall and can sustain through the spring."
So what changes can fans expect in the new season? More spinning red chairs, y'all!
"It's a challenge for anyone producing one of these shows to keep it fresh and to keep it vibrant. We think we've come up with some great ways to do that," Paul Telegdy, the network's president of late-night and alternative programming, explains. "One of the exciting things about The Voice is the obviously famous red chairs and the button-pushing, and we've found exciting ways to keep the competition between the coaches going through latter stages of the competition."
Smash Shake-Up: It might be bright light in their returning shows, but Smash has had its fair share of first-season jitters. Greenblatt said he was proud of Smash's freshman season, especially the success of the complicated production. "As a television producer and as a Broadway producer, which I once was, I am in awe of what we can do on that show every week." But he does concede to criticisms of inconstancies.
"We had some ups and downs creatively over the season, which is true of any show," Greenblatt says. "I think where we didn't do as good a job as I hope we do this year, and I think with our new showrunner we will do better, is the arcing storylines. I think we were inconsistent going back and forth with some things."
But NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke is confident in the series' new direction after cleaning house: "The new showrunner [Josh Safran] came in and pitched the storyline for the new season, and it was so specific and you were on the edge of your seat, and it really felt like there's a plan in place. And things are coming together that feel more consistent." And just in time, the musical drama has already begun filming its new season.