NBC Seeks Next 'Blacklist' with Pilots from Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, and More

After hitting it big with 'The Blacklist,' NBC would like to followup on its success with another big smash and with pilots from Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, and Katherine Heigl in its pipeline that could happen.

May 5, 2014 at 6:48AM

It's upfront time, when major broadcast and cable networks try to convince advertisers their slates will give them the best return on investment. 

Don't look now but NBC (a subsidiary of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)) may not be the punching bag for critics that it used to be. Yes, there are still a few programming moves that boggle the mind. Still, the network is shaping up to control the 10 p.m. slot in the fall Sunday through Wednesday. That's a big deal.

What worked?


Credit: NBC

First, let's rewind back to the fall because you have to understand how NBC has progressed since then. The network debuted six shows on its fall schedule, but only one is a lock to come back. Then again, only one is still even on the air. Remember how excited NBC was about The Michael J. Fox ShowIronside, and Welcome to the Family? How about Sean Saves the World and Dracula? Eventually the optimism on all five faded. After that, there was just The Blacklist.

In addition to having a plot that people could get behind and a charismatic lead in James Spader, The Blacklist had the benefit of a timeslot leading out of The Voice. Those factors led to it being the first big breakout hit of the 2013-14 season. In fact, NBC was so confident in this show that executives renewed it for a second season last December.

Basically, the network doubled-down on its one success story. You can't blame them... the show delivered.

Executives also noticed the continued success of Dick Wolf's firefighter series Chicago Fire and realized that they might have a hit on their hands with the spinoff Chicago PD. Sure enough, both of those have continued to be bright spots in the schedule. When Sunday Night Football returns in the fall, that's going to give NBC an anchor show on four nights out of the week. That's something that other networks would kill for.

The lone exceptions are Thursday and Friday nights, ironic given that NBC owned Thursday nights for most of the '90s and early 2000s. This year's inhabitant in the rotating slot that was home to ER for over a decade was Parenthood, which is critically loved and is brilliantly written, acted, and produced. Unfortunately, nobody seems to watch it.

Fridays are just as maddening because dark horse success story Grimm can't seem to support any new show, even in its own genre. While Grimm (as well as Chicago Fire and Chicago PD) was renewed earlier this year, Parenthood is still in limbo.

What's next?


Credit: NBC

Granted, it's not alone. Aside from those previously mentioned (and of course The Voice), every one of NBC's shows is on the bubble. The only other exception is Parks and Recreation, which NBC technically renewed back in January (but wouldn't confirm until March).

That means that last season's one-time hit Revolution, network staple Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and cult favorite Community are among those waiting on their fates. With SVU it comes down to money. With Community, Revolution, Hannibal, Dracula, and all of the network's midseason series, it comes down to the strength of the network's pilot slate.

Like most of its rivals, NBC handed out a few early pickups, which include Tina Fey's new untitled comedy fronted by Bridesmaids' Ellie Kemper, and Mr. Robinson starring The Office's Craig Robinson. That means that two slots come off the board right there, though NBC and ABC are the networks that generally take the most pilots of the five big broadcasters. Bill Cosby also signed a deal with NBC in January that is expected to result in a show this fall, so that goes into consideration.

The big names in NBC's pilot pool on the comedy side include Rob Lowe, Mary Louise Parker, and Kate Walsh. There's equally big talent on the drama side, including Katherine Heigl, Debra Messing, and producer McG. Some of those names are too big to pass up, and it's likely that celebs like Lowe and Heigl will see their series get green lights.

The future
In terms of network needs, it's a mixed bag. It all revolves around advertising and what executives think will sell the best on Madison Avenue. NBC is clearly better off now than it was this time last year. The success of its 10 p.m. series and the solid performance of midseason comedies About a Boy and Growing up Fisher has helped the network rebound from yet another disappointing fall slate.

Many believe that with its development pipeline and reliable core, this could finally be NBC president Robert Greenblatt's year to wow his critics. Greenblatt is smart and knows what he's doing, but his shows haven't always hit the mark. Maybe this year.

Your cable company is scared, but you can get rich
With all the new ways to consume content, you know cable as we know it is going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple. 


Brett Gold has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers