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NBC exec name-checks St. Pete while explaining new fall strategy

Perhaps it was all the wisecracks about NBC turning into the Law & Order rerun network.Ben.silverman

But NBC entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman seemed to take pleasure in pointing out that his uncle and grandmother live in the St. Petersburg area, after I noted that some viewers and TV critics have said there's too much new material on TV -- creating too many series they must struggle to keep track of.

"It's been a tremendous strategy for cable and the international community to share time periods," Silverman said, touting NBC's decision to schedule shorter, all-original runs of two series in the same timeslot to ensure original episodes across the 2009-10 TV season.

"What we've seen is repeats don't work any more," said the executive, noting that the network's move to turn Saturdays over the repeats helped erode its share of the TV-watching audience to original series on cable.

"Much more at issue with your audience in St. Petersburg, where my uncle and grandma live, you can see them not watching repeats but looking to see original programming. Whether they watch all the shows or watch their favorite shows, they're not watching repeats."

Okay, we get it, dude (even though the uncle and grandma remark, coming from a hipster like Silverman, felt a little like a wisecrack). Here's what else I learned:

Chuck NBC focused on trying to give good lead-ins to Jay Leno's 10 p.m. show, which they say they will not evaluate until a year has passed. Or ratings dip bad enough that NBC affiliates complain (my addition).

NBC's renewal of Chuck (left) and Fox's renewal of Dollhouse proves audience still has pull with the networks if they push back against an impending cancellation -- Silverman said during NBC's early ad-selling season, the public pushback against canceling Chuck saved the show. "The demand for Chuck that came out of the online community, the critical press and our advertising base, made us have to pick up that show," said Silverman. "I was sent more Nerds than anyone can consume in a lifetime."

30 Rock will be delayed this fall to help ensure a string of original episodes and because stars Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey are both working on movies over the summer.

Friday Night Lights isn't returning until summer 2010.

Silverman blamed the writers strike that ended in March 2008 for the string of failed series they debuted last year.

Parenthood-cast Slating male-oriented crime shows such as Southland and Law & Order on Fridays seems like tossing money down a hole. But it also shows that networks are serious about avoiding giving up another day of new programming in the week.

Should a presumably family-oriented TV series version of the movie Parenthood air right before the sex crimes show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit? 

NBC, like ABC and Fox before them, has saved shows that previously would be canceled, creating a new formula for success on the network that factors in critical buzz, advertiser interest and fan reaction to balance hard ratings.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:58pm]

    

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