NBC has confirmed that “Saturday Night Live” long-timer Seth Meyers will take over as host of the network’s “Late Night” next year, when Jimmy Fallon takes “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno.
NBC waited until Sunday afternoon — just a few hours before releasing its new prime-time schedule to the news media — to confirm months of speculation about Meyers. With the announcement, the network hoped Monday’s chatter would be about late-night TV — which NBC still dominates — rather than prime time, where the network has collapsed whenever Sunday football and “The Voice” take breathers.
In prime time, NBC has decided to give a James Spader action thriller the coveted post-”Voice” time slot. NBC also hopes that family comedies starring Sean Hayes, Mike O’Malley and Michael J. Fox can resuscitate its Thursday nights — and hopes Dracula and Blackbeard can revive its Fridays — but hasn’t made up its mind about keeping Donald Trump or Hannibal Lecter.
Last Friday, NBC canceled virtually all its prime-time series in comedy — a genre in which the network was once considered the gold standard — as well as several big-ticket dramas, including “Smash,” and the newsmag “Rock Center.”
On Sunday afternoon, only “Parks and Recreation” and “Community” survived NBC’s comedy purge. Those shows were joined by just five returning dramas: “Grimm,” “Parenthood,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Revolution” and “Chicago Fire.”
NBC said Sunday that it will decide whether to pick up another season of “Hannibal” in the next few weeks — as well as whether to order more of Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Neither program was on the prime-time slate that NBC unveiled Sunday.
As expected, “The Voice” is back, on Mondays and Tuesdays. It will be followed by “The Blacklist,” in which Spader stars as an ex-government agent who is one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives.
Dick Wolf’s sophomore “Chicago Fire” is being moved to Tuesdays at 10 to benefit from a “Voice” lead-in at 9; “The Voice” follows “The Biggest Loser.”
After NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday’s “The Voice” shifts back to 8, so NBC can launch two comedies off of it: a reboot of the Hugh Grant flick “About a Boy” and “The Family Guide,” about a blind dad who finally gets a guide dog.
The network really needs to rebuild its comedy brand, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt acknowledged in Sunday’s announcement.
On Wednesdays, imagine “Revolution” at 8, followed by “Law & Order: SVU” at 9, leading into a reboot of “Ironside,” starring Blair Underwood in the paralyzed-cop role made famous in the ’70s by Raymond Burr.
NBC will attempt to broaden its Thursday comedy audience with a family slate that’s sure to make TV critics unhappy.
That lineup includes “Welcome to the Family,” starring Mike O’Malley and Mary McCormack as parents of a high-schooler who gets pregnant by a Hispanic teen, which, NBC says, upsets the guy’s parents because “they now have Caucasians in the family.”
“Family” will be followed by Hayes’s new sitcom, “Sean Saves the World,” and then “The Michael J. Fox Show,” in which the former “Family Ties” star plays a news anchor who put his career on hold to spend more time with the family after receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Friday is Genre Night at NBC next season, with “Grimm” airing at 9, followed by “Dracula,” starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, at 10 in the fall and, in spring, “Crossbones,” with John Malkovich as the infamous Blackbeard. The newsmagazine “Dateline” is the warm-up act, at 8.
On Saturday, NBC returns “Rerun Theatre.”
On Sunday, after football season, NBC has decided that it’s time for “big dramas again,” Greenblatt said in Sunday’s announcement.
Setting aside “Dateline” at 7 p.m. and a home-renovation reality competition show called “American Dream Builders” at 8, what Greenblatt means is that NBC will debut J.J. Abrams’s new “Believe” at 9, followed by the new “Crisis” at 10.
“Believe” is about a little orphan girl named Bo who has mastered levitation, telekinesis, forecasting and the ability to control nature. Her guardians, a.k.a. True Believers, want to safeguard her from harmful outsiders who would use her for personal gain — like the programming suits at HLN. Or Lifetime.
Anyway, the True Believers decide to spring — from death row — a wrongfully convicted felon to take care of her. What could go wrong there?
“Crisis,” in which POTUS’s son is among those kidnapped during a school field trip, stars Dermot Mulroney. That is not to be confused with CBS’s new “Hostages,” whose cast includes Dylan McDermott — the show about a doctor who has to operate on POTUS, except that she gets distracted when her husband and kids get kidnapped.
In conclusion, Greenblatt said: “This is the most robust and highest-testing slate of new shows we have had in years.”
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/