NBC overhauls TV schedule with 12 new scripted shows

Sun May 15, 2011 4:22pm EDT
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NBC will attempt to revive its TV schedule by stuffing it with a dozen new shows next season, building a new block of comedy and rolling out a high-profile musical drama from producer Steven Spielberg.

While NBC ordered up a clutch of new scripted series for 2011-12, its schedule will still be anchored by several competition shows returning from this past season, including musical hit "The Voice" and the long-running "Celebrity Apprentice" -- with or without Donald Trump.

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, in announcing the new schedule on Sunday, made clear he was impatient to make major changes to a prime-time schedule that has long suffered from poor ratings and failed experiments. Greenblatt took over the job earlier this year.

"I got there right in the nick of time before we had to start picking up drama pilots," Greenblatt said on a conference call. "I'll take ownership of the projects."

Those dramas include "Smash," a midseason musical set on Broadway that will be produced by Spielberg and star Katharine McPhee from "American Idol"; and "The Firm," an update of novelist John Grisham's legal thriller.

NBC's lineup will also feature "Prime Suspect," based on the popular British series, with film actress Maria Bello landing the role as lead detective, and "The Playboy Club," set in a Chicago nightclub in the early 1960s.

"I'd love to make any of these dramas work," Greenblatt said.

After NBC, News Corp's Fox, Walt Disney Co's ABC and CBS, owned by CBS Corp, will introduce their 2011-12 schedules to critics, affiliates and advertisers. Ad sales will then get underway.   Continued...