NBC President takes aim at cult favorites
Network head vows to widen comedy audience
By Kenny Herzog Nov 15, 2012 9:38AM
The signs of a new direction at NBC have been mounting: conspicuously family friendly ads enticing viewers to embrace this season's universally appealing sitcoms, delaying Season 4 of "Community" and, of course, the dwindling final seasons of "30 Rock" and "The Office." Much like MLB's Miami Marlins, it's clear that the Peacock Network's sitcom roster will look a lot different a year from now than it did this September.
Jennifer Salke, who took the reins as NBC President of Entertainment just over a year ago, is pulling no punches about the changing tides. In an interview with TV Guide, the exec acknowledged, "We just want a different brand." While not calling out any series in particular, it's safe to assume that long-running but ratings-challenged cult favorites like "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" were on her mind when she added, "We don't want a narrow brand in the sense of some of those shows that we inherited here, which we're huge fans of, [but] have a very narrow audience ... We're trying to do big, breakout ideas that are incredibly unique, that invite more than just a few people into the tent."
No reason to panic just yet. While Salke's previous track record as a development head at 20th Century Fox produced very mixed results with hour-long dramas ("The Playboy Club," "Awake" and "Terra Nova" are among her misses), it also facilitated triumphs in the comedy arena including "Modern Family," "Glee" and "The New Girl." The two things all three of those share? Critical superlatives and big ratings. Maybe Salke is on to something. Maybe, even in the ruthless business of prime-time television, we can have it all.