TV Upfront

NBC Expands 'The Voice' to Fall and Spring, the Better to Boost Lineup

Peacock Picks up Two New Dramas, Four New Comedies for Fall Slate

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NBC this year is adding a fall version of hit springtime singing competition "The Voice" and expanding the show to two nights a week, creating an even more crowded field for performance competitions.

NBC hopes expanding 'The Voice' to two cycles, one in the fall, will help the rest of its lineup.
NBC hopes expanding 'The Voice' to two cycles, one in the fall, will help the rest of its lineup.

Adding a fall iteration of "The Voice" will help NBC, which has struggled to generate ratings for years, introduce a Monday-night drama and two Tuesday-night comedies at the start of the 2012-13 TV season. In an interview, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said that those new programs were among the ones executives felt had the best chance of success and that their "priority" placement after airings of "The Voice" was deliberate.

NBC unveiled its fall programming at the start of the annual broadcast upfront marketplace, where the big TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad time for the coming TV season. NBC has a lot at stake. The network, which enjoyed about a decade of dominance in the TV ratings , has fallen significantly and has been mired in turnaround efforts for years. This season will mark the second under NBC owner Comcast, and executives hope the success of "The Voice" and continued interest in sports broadcasts such as the London Olympics and "Sunday Night Football" can help the rest of its offerings.

"We believe in the show," Mr. Greenblatt said about "The Voice," dismissing conventional wisdom that the song-and-dance-competition category is close to being oversaturated. "There is a lot of room for all of us to succeed," he said. "People were saying, 'Oh, "American Idol" is over this year.' It's certainly not over. There is a big appetite for all of these shows."

Fox's "The X-Factor" performed well in its debut last season but not on the level of "Idol," perhaps leaving enough viewers up for grabs to embolden NBC's expansion plan for "The Voice." NBC executives declined to comment on "X-Factor."

NBC said its overall fall schedule would add just two dramas and four comedies. "The Revolution," a sci-fi series from "Lost" and "Fringe" co-creator J.J. Abrams, will air after "The Voice" on Mondays. The show tracks a small group of people trying to determine why the world has lost modern technology, throwing it back to the days of the Industrial Revolution, and whether the change can be reversed.

NBC will follow the Tuesday episode of "The Voice" with a pair of new comedies starting at 9 p.m.: "Go On," featuring Matthew Perry as a cocky sportscaster trying to get his mojo back after losing his wife in a car accident, and "The New Normal," about two gay men, the surrogate whom they want to carry their baby and her 8-year-old daughter. "Parenthood" will return in the 10 p.m. slot on Tuesdays.

NBC also brought back scripted series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Grimm," "The Office," "30 Rock," "Community," "Parks and Recreation," "Whitney" and "Up All Night," along with unscripted "The Celebrity Apprentice," "Fashion Star," "The Biggest Loser," "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," "Dateline NBC" and "Rock Center with Brian Williams."

Among the programs that NBC scrapped are "Harry's Law," "Prime Suspect," and "Are You There, Chelsea?" The much-hyped Broadway-drama "Smash" has been held for mid-season.

In addition to "Go On" and "The New Normal," NBC's new fall comedies are "Animal Practice" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, centered on a top New York veterinarian who finds his practice taken over by a spurned love, and "Guys With Kids" at 8:30 p.m., a series about three 30-something dads trying to hold on to their youth even as they raise young children. "Guys With Kids" is executive-produced by Jimmy Fallon . "Law & Order: SVU" returns at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, while "Chicago Fire," a new drama from veteran producer Dick Wolf, airs at 10 p.m.

Thursday night features a bevy of returning comedies between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m: "30 Rock" at 8 p.m., "Up All Night" at 8:30 p.m., "The Office" at 9 p.m., and "Parks and Recreation" at 9:30 p.m. "30 Rock" has only a 13-episode order, which indicates that next season could be its last, though Mr. Greenblatt said an expansion of the order was always possible.

NBC has long been known for high-quality Thursday-night dramas at 10 p.m., such as "Hill Street Blues," "ER" or, in recent years, "Southland" and "Prime Suspect." But this season the network will place a ratings -challenged newsmagazine, "Rock Center with Brian Williams" in the slot, a move executives suggested was made to help local stations boost their news audiences at 11 p.m.

"Our stations really like having new viewers," said Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting, in an interview. "It's a good lead-in for local stations, and we really haven't paid enough attention to that in the last two years."

NBC's Mr. Greenblatt also said that the network was focused more on programming that aired earlier in the week, as football and "The Voice" would bring momentum to those evenings that the network can leverage. "The further you get from Sunday, Monday, the harder it is to keep the momentum going," he said during a conference call with reporters Sunday. While NBC has a lot to do as part of its turnaround, he said, the network can't fix everything at once.

NBC will place a group of returning shows on Fridays, with two underperforming comedies, "Whitney" and "Community" at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively. "Grimm" returns at 9 p.m. and "Dateline NBC" at 10 p.m.

NBC's Mr. Greenblatt acknowledged that "Community" and "30 Rock" have passionate fan bases but said a strong group of comedy candidates in the pipeline means that the network wants to develop the "shows of the future."

NBC will air repeats on Saturday nights. Fall Sundays will be devoted to NFL telecasts. After football season, NBC will run "Dateline NBC" at 7 p.m. on Sunday, "Fashion Star" at 8 p.m., "Celebrity Apprentice" at 9 p.m. and "Do No Harm," a new drama focused on the Jekyll-and-Hyde adventures of a prominent neurosurgeon with an alternate personality, at 10 p.m.

New comedies slated to begin midseason include "Save Me," a sitcom starring Anne Heche as a woman who becomes a prophet after a near-death experience; "1600 Penn," about a dysfunctional First Family -- kids, step-mother and all; and "Next Caller," a sitcom starring comedian Dane Cook in a program about mismatched satellite-radio DJs.

New midseason dramas include "Infamous," a mystery serial that attempts to solve a socialite's murder and examine her dark family secrets; and "Hannibal," about fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter and his early days helping authorities solve crimes as he deals with his own sickness.

Midseason reality programming includes "Stars Earn Stripes," in which nine celebrities attempt to learn skills used by military personnel and the police; "Howie Mandel's White Elephant," a game show based on a popular holiday party game; "Ready for Love," a new dating competition; and "Surprise With Jenny McCarthy," a feel-good variety program in which the hostess delivers family reunions, funny pranks and surprising rewards.

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