NBC, Fox offer fall television plans, to a point amid change
NEW YORK — Something was missing when Fox announced its plans for the fall television season: a schedule.
It was one of several signs of how the business has changed since networks resumed their annual glitzy presentations for advertisers, which had been suspended because of the pandemic. Both NBC and Fox, which kicked off the week Monday, emphasized how the flagship networks were now part of larger media companies.
Networks still can boast star power. Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, Raymond Lee, Camila Cabello and Trace Adkins will be featured in new contexts. Kelly Clarkson sang to open NBC’s show, and Miley Cyrus performed to end it.
The traditional presentations usually reveal what new shows are coming, what old shows are departing and when they will air during the week and year. While fixed schedules remain they are obsolete for many viewers, who are becoming accustomed to deciding for themselves when they want to watch or stream programs.
That wasn’t part of Fox’s reasoning for not revealing a schedule. Fox Entertainment CEO Charles Collier said the network was trying a “new approach” to give equal weight to its Tubi streaming service.
Holding back gives Fox the flexibility to adjust its schedule depending on what competitors do. It might also reflect the fact that Fox has not yet nailed down agreements with producers of the dramas “911” and “The Resident,” two programs the network expects will be on its fall schedule.
“We’re in good faith negotiations,” Collier said. “We feel good about it.”
NBC executives drove home the point that advertisers could work with the broadcast network, the Peacock streaming service and cable outlets like Bravo, USA, CNBC and NBC. NBC announced that all its shows will be available on Peacock the day after they air, and that many Universal movies will quickly be available to stream, too.
“This is not an extension of our core business or a pivot,” said Jeff Shell, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal. “It is our core business.”
In another illustration of changing times, Bravo used its time at Monday’s presentation to celebrate the upcoming BravoCon fanfest, as opposed to individual programs.
The core of NBC’s programming comes courtesy of veteran producer Dick Wolf. His shows “Chicago Med,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” occupy the network’s Wednesday night schedule, while “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime” fill Thursday’s prime time.
NBC is opening the door to more diversity with a new offering, “Lopez vs. Lopez,” a sitcom about a working-class family starring Lopez and his real-life daughter, Mayan Lopez.
Lee stars in “Quantum Leap,” which NBC described as a “reimagining” of the network’s 1989 to 1993 sci-fi drama with Scott Bakula. Lee, whose credits include Fox’s “Prodigal Son” and Tom Cruise’s upcoming film sequel “Top Gun: Maverick,” joins the small number of Asian Americans cast as series leads.
It’s not the only offering that will feel familiar. The network is also bringing back John Larroquette to star in a sequel to “Night Court,” Wolf has revived the original “Law & Order” and Peacock is airing a remake of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
“I’m pretty confident I’m going to be up here in two years announcing the ‘This is Us’ reboot,” comic Seth Meyers quipped of NBC’s drama, which has its series finale next week.
The pandemic was still top of mind. Meyers said to the audience watching at Radio City Music Hall: “What an historic room to tell people you caught COVID in.”
Pop star Cabello will join “The Voice” singing contest next season. Meanwhile, Blake Shelton, a fellow star on “The Voice,” joined Carson Daly and professional wrestler Nikki Bella to introduce a new USA series, “Barmageddon,” in which contestants will play bar games. There was a distinct lack of audience enthusiasm.
“We have no idea when it will air on USA,” Bella said.
“Or if,” Daly quietly added.
Among the plans Fox did announce Monday, is expanding the empire of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. His “MasterChef” keeps rolling along, and Fox announced that Ramsey’s series “Next Level Chef” will get the coveted time slot after the Super Bowl next February, which exposes a program to millions of new viewers. Fox will also debut the competition show “Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars” next season.
Fox will also go country with “Monarch,” described as a “Texas-sized, multi-generational musical drama about America’s first family of country music.” Sarandon and musician Adkins are headliners.
Actor Jamie Foxx will be behind the camera for the missing persons drama “Alert.” The network will also debut a crime anthology series “Accused” that begins with someone on trial and the audience learns through flashbacks what they’ve been accused of.
When will the new shows air? Stay tuned.