NBC looks to rebuild quality TV shows under Comcast
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC's new entertainment chairman said on Monday that new owners Comcast Corp were serious about investing in the struggling TV network, and would be patient about seeing results as it tries to regain its former glory.
Former Showtime chief Robert Greenblatt, who is now NBC's top programing executive, said he plans to develop original, quality TV shows that appeal to upscale viewers whom advertisers covet.
He also announced plans to reestablish Universal Media Studios -- the network's TV production arm -- as a stand-alone entity after it was folded into the NBC network three years ago. He appointed veteran CBS network and cable television executive Bela Bajaria to head up that effort.
"The goals for this season and the next few years (are) to rebuild this schedule. We are going to be very aggressive. We are going to develop upscale original shows," Greenblatt told reporters at a bi-annual meeting of television critics.
NBC has announced six new dramas and six new comedies for new TV season which starts in September in a bid to reverse its position at the bottom of the four leading U.S. networks.
Greenblatt was hired to lead that charge after cable operator Comcast acquired a controlling stake in NBC in January from General Electric Co..
Asked about the network's direction under Comcast, Greenblatt said the cable giant had a "genuine excitement in these businesses" compared to a sense under General Electric that network TV was a declining business.
Comcast, Greenblatt said, has "a real enthusiasm for broadcast television and a desire to take this venerable American institution and raise it back up."
He added that so far Comcast had shown "a desire to invest and be patient about what the bottom line is going to look like for a few years."
NBC has struggled to find winning scripted shows to take the place of 1990s comedy hits like "Friends", "Cheers" and "Seinfeld".
Greenblatt said NBC had signed a development deal with "King of the Hill" and "The Office" creator Greg Daniels for new animated, live action and reality shows and has scheduled a new comedy block on Wednesday evenings.
"Comedy is a giant for us. We have got to have more of it," he said.
Other new NBC shows include the controversial drama "The Playboy Club" set in the legendary 1960s nightclub, and a remake of the award-winning British crime drama "Prime Suspect" with Maria Bello.
Greenblatt also announced a development deal for the 2012-13 season with "Will & Grace" actor Sean Hayes for a new comedy in which he will star.
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)