LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "At this point in our business, flat is the new up," NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said in his opening remarks during the TCA Summer Press Tour.
Said statement referred to the Peacock being the only broadcast network even year-to-year in the ratings (September 24-July 21), but was quickly taken by the audience as a defeatist rallying cry.
He would later clarify that the annual "decline year-to-year in broadcast television from 5-7% has been happening for the last two decades. So it isn't just a recent phenomenon. And it's been happening partly because cable's just taking viewers away and I have lost count of how many networks do original programming these days. Is it three digits yet? But there's 50 networks doing programming. I wish we could get more respect for the good work that we do."
As for specific programming updates, here's a breakdown of the notable developments from the executive session:
-- Greenblatt, just prior to announcing their four new mini/limited series (read the story), indicated Mark Burnett's "A.D.: After the Bible" (formerly "A.D. Beyond the Bible") won't be ready until the next broadcast season (2014-15). Also still in the hopper on said front: a six-hour take on "Cleopatra" from executive producers Dan McDermott and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura.
-- Despite Donald Trump's proclamation that "Celebrity Apprentice" has been renewed, Paul Telegdy (President, Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment) indicates that's not entirely the case. "We always need to know that we can cast the show and that's the bit of process we're at which is the restocking [of celebrities] and that can take some time," he said. "So no, no plans for an announcement" about a pickup.
-- "Fashion Star" won't be getting a third season. Paul Telegdy confirmed said news to me in the post-session scrum.
-- Yes, they did shoot 13 episodes of "Save Me" even though only seven aired. We're told the network opted to shelve episodes two through seven - which were presumably filmed before Darlene Hunt replaced Alexa Junge as showrunner - and skip right to number eight as its "second" episode. In any case, it won't be back.
-- NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke also gave me a few updates on the development side. David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) is in negotiations to direct and executive produce "Girlfriend in a Coma," one of three pilots that were pushed from this past development cycle. "We're hoping between David and Dick [Wolf] we can go and attract a great lead for that and it's a pilot that we might get on course earlier than later." Christina Ricci was previously attached but bowed out in March. As for the other two, Salke says the comedy "The Donor Party" is "a bit on hold" while the Anthony E. Zuiker-produced "Wonderland" is "tough to do because of the ABC spin-off."
-- Among its other projects, Salke indicates Julian Fellowes's "The Gilded Age" is very much alive. "We love that," she said. "We're just waiting for him to emerge. He's going to write all the episodes. He comes in and talks to us every three or four months and it's wildly entertaining." As for when we'll see it, "the timeframe still is based on his availability." And finally, a proposed Roseanne Barr series likewise remains in the works. "We're working on the Roseanne show creatively and what that extended family show is. It's coming together. We're still discussing whether that's going to be a 10/90 or straight to series or 13 episodes or summer... that part of it is still in discussion."