TCA 2013: NBC wants to be in the “event business”

At the Television Critics Association (TCA) 2013 Summer Press Tour this morning, NBC delivered its executive session, with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt (pictured center), NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke (pictured left), and NBC Entertainment President of Alternative and Late Night Programming Paul Telegdy (pictured right) addressing reporters.

“Flat is the new up,” commented Greenblatt, as he pointed out that among broadcast networks, NBC was the only net that had at least maintained its position this season while the others lost ground.

Perhaps realizing that holding steady is perhaps not the most satisfying thing to be boasting about on a regular basis, Greenblatt also stated how he believes that “[NBC needs] to be in the event business” in an effort to “fight the DVR.”

Along those lines, Greenblatt was not only speaking about live events — though NBC has plenty of those in store, including its upcoming NFL coverage, of course; the Winter Olympics in 2014; and various live episodes of The Voice and a new live game show called The Million Second Quiz, for example.

But “event,” in NBC’s mind, also means big, must-see spectacles like miniseries, several of which NBC has in the works, and which were announced today to accommodate the previously announced in-the-works miniseries A.D.: After the Bible, Mark Burnett’s sequel to The Bible. The announcements indicated NBC’s commitment to ramp up longform and event limited series.

One of the NBC event series announced today is a four-hour miniseries called Hillary, based on the life of Hillary Clinton and starring Diane Lane in the title role. The miniseries will cover Clinton’s various personal and professional roles from 1998 to the present. No actor has been cast as President Bill Clinton yet, and regarding questions of when the miniseries would air in light of Hillary’s likely run for president in 2016, Greenblatt noted that she probably would not declare her candidacy until winter or spring of 2015, and Hillary might very well air before then (though no premiere date is known yet).

Also on NBC’s event slate as announced today is a remake of Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin’s novel (made into a memorable 1968 feature film by Roman Polanski) about devil worship and the complex relationship between a young couple. In this updated version, the young couple lives in Paris, where their nightmare unfolds.

Citing the success of CBS’ recent adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome into a successful series, Greenblatt also announced that NBC would be working on a Stephen King event series of its own — an updating of The Tommyknockers, which already had been made into an ABC miniseries in 1993, to less-than-terrific effect.

Finally, it was announced that in addition to working with Mark Burnett on A.D.: After the Bible, NBC would be developing Burnett’s limited series Plymouth, which examines the challenges and drama of the Pilgrims’ journey across the Atlantic and their difficulties of settling in a new country.


Chris Haston/NBC