NBC yanks Playboy Club from schedule, sets Brian Williams newsmagazine for Oct. 31 launch
The minute I saw the press release, I could do the math.
NBC announced that it was debuting anchor Brian Williams' newsmagazine Rock Center at 10 p.m. Oct. 31. Which just happens to be the 10 p.m. Monday timeslot of another new NBC show, the low-rated Playboy Club.
That is network TV's way of canceling a new show these days. No press release or official explanation goes out -- instead, the network just announces a new show in the timeslot, and those of us who track television for a living are left to do the math.
An NBC spokesman does say -- on background -- that reruns of the low-rated NBC drama Prime Suspect will air at 10 p.m. Mondays next week and the week after until Rock Center is ready. which means NBC will still be taking a shellacking in that timeslot for a few more weeks.
The move also provided a gentle rebuke to those who assumed NBC was going to wait before becoming the first network to cancel a show. The network's head of entertainment was quoted saying he would move slowly in canceling shows; turns out, he was talking about other troubled new shows, Whitney and Up All Night, which were both given orders for a full season of episodes as Playboy Club was shuffled off the schedule.
The newsmagazine will be a major undertaking for NBC; it's first new NBC News series in prime time for the past 20 years, counting departed Today show anchor Meredith Vieira, former CBS anchor Harry Smith and former ABC correspondent Kate Snow among its many contributors.
I'm hoping Rock Center will offer real journalism; no more catching predators or spending huge sums on stories proving people will take a new iPod in the case left unattended in public (both are real stories which aired on Dateline NBC). And I'm hoping its a real showcase for Williams, who has as much wit and journalism talent as a certain gray haired cable guy who seems all over TV these days.
Best of all, it proves that TV isn't quite ready for an awkward, nostalgic look at a lifestyle that often disguised exploiting women's sexuality as liberation from patrician sexual values.