Can NBC Make a Success of Isaiah Washington, Jerry Seinfeld and Donald Trump?
Is NBC becoming the networks for castoffs and old hands?
As I write this, the new management team at NBC is facing down a conference room packed with snarky reporters chewing over the way hotshot former reality producer Ben Silverman and longtime NBC business guy Marc Graboff kneecapped former entertainment prez Kevin Reilly. Some of their decisions seemed to roll back decisions made before their rise, including hints about keeping Jay Leno in late night and the decision to bring Donald Trump back to NBC.
I'll have something more thoughtful on Ben's first tangle with us critics in a bit, but there were quite a few early announcements worth talking about.
-- Jerry Seinfeld is returning to NBC, playing himself on Thursday comedy 30 Rock to help promote his Bee Movie. I figure at some point, the former sitcom star will show up at people's homes and beg them to go see this flick.
-- Isaiah Washington lands comfortably, fired from Grey's Anatomy in the fallout over his homophobic slur and hired for new series the Bionic Woman for five episodes. Silverman shrugged off any concerns that some people might be upset over the move, saying, "i didn't quite understand what went on there...You're available? you're a huge actor on a hit TV show." He went on to compare snagging Washington, who has also pitched an action show Silverman said NBC is developing for him for next season, to getting baseball star A-Rod in a trade from the New York Yankees.
-- All in the Family creator Norman Lear will return to series television, helping a new producer craft a new series. Silverman began networking with Lear when the guy who created All in family, the Jeffersons and Maude wanted to pitch a reality show. now he's lending his name to a new show under development -- critics here were wondering there's any way they could do a program as groundbreaking as the stuff Lear tackled in the past.
---Donald Trump will return to NBC with an Apprentice, probably in midseason, based on Donald giving his business advice to passel of celebrities. "What could be more fun than Donald sharing his business acumen with celebrities?" said Silverman who also jumped at the idea that longtime Trump foe Rosie O'Donnell could come to the program. like so many of Silverman's ideas, it's based on the success of a European show -- the British version of the Apprentice, which was produces with celebs. But when he enthused, "Donald has told me to extend an invite to Rosie," I couldn't tell if he was kidding. (UPDATE: He hasn't made a phone call to her, but Silverman insists he -- and Trump -- were serious about inviting O'Donnell)
The pair also seemed to float the trial balloon of trying to roll back the decision of losing Jay Leno in late night, following the widely-touted move of bringing Conan O'Brien to the tonight Show in 2009. Though the pair would say what Leno's job would actually be, they kept insisted they wanted to keep Leno at NBC for life, but also give Conan the Tonight Show as promised. Doesn't seem possible.
More once the press conference ends, which seems to be coming in minutes....