TCA Summer Tour 2014: NBC

Jennifer Salke (left), Paul Teldgy, and Robert Greenblatt at TCA.

The broadcast network portion of the TCA 2014 began Sunday, and the tone of the press tour changed quite a bit – there was a little more bite in these sessions, as one journalist squared off with a star of a new show and the network entertainment chief whined why his network gets no love.

– Executive session: NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt appeared front and center and talked about the network’s renaissance this season: successful prime-time shows such as The Voice and Sunday Night Football; new freshman hit The Blacklist; and the successful translation in late night from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon. He and his posse on stage (fellow execs Jennifer Salke and Paul Teldgy) knows there’s work to be done to stay on top.

But it wasn’t all smiles at the exec session. Greenblatt (and the other network chiefs) were not pleased over their dramas getting snubbed by the Emmys. And Greenblatt defended the decision to refuse a digital ad for the movie Obvious Child because it had the word “abortion” in it. Obviously, NBC is still haunted by the $1 million loss in ad revenue it suffered when it aired TV movie Roe Vs. Wade in 1989.

On to the shows: NBC trotted out casts for its six new shows, and the first was for State Of Affairs, featuring Katherine Heigl’s comeback attempt. She plays a CIA agent whose task isto inform the President on important security matters. This panel became rather testy after NPR critic Eric Deggans asked if she really was difficult to work with because she’s female. 

Next was The Mysteries Of Laura and if you think this is a Veronica Mars-type of drama – think again. Debra Messing plays a homicide detective who has an easier time handling criminals than her wild family. On the panel, she said: “it is the balance of the tone of drama and the comedy that is going to be the newest adventure and the newest challenge.  That we haven’t seen on network TV before.”

In the pilot, we see twin boys peeing on each other. We haven’t seen that on network TV before, either.

Next was Marry Me, a sitcom that was generating quite a bit of positive buzz with the crowd at TCA. Casey Wilson and Ken Marino play an engaged couple who trip down the aisle isn’t easy as they think it is. Asked if she can relate to her character on the show, Ms. Wilson replied: “I am just as irrational and angry and emotional.”

Next was Constantine, the new drama based on the DC Comics character. A schemer from London, England, A supernatural detective named John Constantine is all of a sudden defending the world from dark forces. Constantine is more adult than you give him credit for – he’s a bisexual who smokes, and the adult things he does in the comics producers are trying to do an end-around on (to make it more “politically correct”.) In fact, you won’t see Constantine’s sexuality  explored in the show, according to producers.

Panels for two awful comedies (Bad Judge and A to Z) followed. Judge features Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy) who rules the bench by day and parties all night. A to Z is a typical, run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. With NBC ready to replace these Thursday night sitcoms in February with Blacklist, both will likely be gone by then, if not sooner.

TCA Quick Hits And Bits:

– The cast and producers of USA’s Dig had to field some tough questions regarding this limited-run series, including whether the series would have political ramifications since it deals with Biblical prophecies with real-life turmoil in the region. Currently, Dig is on a pre-planned hiatus and would resume filming in Jerusalem as long it was safe to do so.

Dig co-creator and executive producer Tim Kring is not expected to work on Heroes: Reborn until this project is complete, and given the conflicts in Israel, there’s no telling how long that would be.

At the Sunday Night Football panel, Al Michaels said he wasn’t too concerned about CBS’ new Thursday Night Football package: The thing about Thursday night that’s important to remember is “Thursday Night Football” has been on the air for a lot of seasons. It’s the case in every sport. How much is too much? Right now it’s not too much.”

The panel also featured Cris Collinsworth, who talked about the concussion controversy, and Michele Tafoya.

Yeah, right: Bravo’s upcoming scripted series Girlfriends Guide to Divorce is not based on her own, says series creator Marti Noxon. The series stars House’s Lisa Edelstein as a woman who winds up divorcing her husband (Paul Adelstein) and now faces single life in her 40s… the series premieres Dec. 2.

 The critics were all treated to a premiere showing of Sharknado 2: The Second One Monday night, the sequel to the surprise hit movie airs later this month of SyFy. No spoilers!