The comedy block
In “The Mindy Project” — which “The Office” writer/star Kaling developed at NBC (NBC passed on it, although it will produce the series) — Kaling plays a skilled (thank goodness, or it would not be a comedy) OB/GYN pursuing her dream of becoming the perfect woman, finding the perfect man and getting her perfect romantic comedy ending.
“Ben and Kate” — the other new comedy rounding out Fox’s Tuesday four-com block — stars Nat Faxon of “Bad Teacher” fame (he was also the Oscar-winning co-screenwriter of the Alexander Payne/George Clooney flick “The Descendants”). He plays a goofy guy who becomes the manny for his uptight single-mom sister’s kid.
Sometime during the season, Fox will swap out one of its Tuesday comedies to introduce “The Goodwin Games,” starring Scott Foley, Becki Newton and Jake Lacy as estranged siblings who are forced back together to compete in a game of Trivial Pursui — to inherit $20 million — after eccentric dad Beau Bridges dies.
As for “Glee,” it’s on the brink of a “creative renaissance,” Reilly said.
“We’re very excited about the quality of talent looking to join the show,” explained Reilly, noting that Kate Hudson has signed on for a seven-episode story arc and that Sarah Jessica Parker has signed for a multi-episode arc, as well. He added that neither signing would have been possible had the show remained on Tuesdays — apparently celebrities weren’t so keen on the show without an “Idol” lead-in.
On the morning phone conference call with reporters, Reilly conceded that “Idol” this season “was a bigger [ratings] drop-off than we anticipated.” He said there would be creative “tweaks” to the show, but none that the execs would discuss at that time because the show’s current season is still airing.
In round numbers, that would appear to mean one of the show’s judges — Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez or Randy Jackson — is about to get whacked.
Hours before Fox’s presentation, at the Beacon Theater, NBC unveiled its schedule to advertisers. Finally emerging from the bread-and-water Upfront Dark Ages of NBC’s Jeff Zucker era — which had included new-schedule presentations in musty NBC conference rooms or even mustier midtown-hotel ballrooms — NBC was finally back at Radio City Music Hall.
Advertisers felt like guests instead of prisoners.
To break the ice, NBC aired a video in which all its programs were turned into musicals — a joking reference to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, who famously developed this season’s “Smash” for the network. Those who saw “Meet the Press” anchor David Gregory reclining on a table — a come-hither look on his face, and a lineup of gold-lamed dancers at his back, as he sang some ditty about the network — will not soon forget it. Even if they want to.
Hot off his successes with “Undercovers,” “Alcatraz,” “Six Degrees” and “What About Brian?” — oh, wait . . . — J.J. Abrams has created NBC’s new Monday drama, “Revolution,” about a world without power and in which nobody bothers to cut back kudzu.
“If you long for the day when your BlackBerry stops working, this could be your show,” NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke promised advertisers.
“Rock Center,” NBC’s Brian Williams-anchored newsmag that’s barely showing a pulse, has been put on at 10 Thursdays, after a lineup of young-skewing upscale sitcoms — Disconnect TV, as we like to call it — because it will be a good lead-in for NBC stations’ late local newscasts, explained Greenblatt, clearing up that big mystery.
And “Community” has been moved from Thursday — the biggest night of the week for the TV biz — over to the wasteland that is Friday, because its small but rabid group of fanboys and girls are crazy enough to follow it there, Greenblatt explained.
“ ‘Community’ has the loudest fan base,” he told advertisers gleefully, adding: “Calling all fans of ‘Community’: Come to Friday! Start tweeting!”
Yes, it’s ironic.
But no one explained why — during a clip promoting NBC’s new, ultra-patriotic midseason reality series “Stars Earn Stripes,” in which celebrities are put through the same kind of training exercises as inductees to various branches of the military — exec producer Mark Burnett appeared to be wearing a Confederate flag around his neck. We can’t be sure — it was folded up to make a sort-of ascot.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvcolumn.