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Emmys ratings: The risky move to a Monday telecast draws solid 15.6 million

Sofia Vergara and Television Academy CEO Bruce Rosenblum

(Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Well, it does appear as though we have a final national number for the 66th annual Primetime Emmys ... and it's not an ugly one at all: 15.6 million.

That's only about two points below last year's football-fed telecast on CBS, so NBC has to be thrilled with this. Fact is, the move to Monday was a risk: Viewers could have ignored the big show, but there was certainly a groundswell of interest in the Robin Williams tribute. (NBC even promoted Billy Crystal's tribute with in-program teases -- highly unusual, but a key indicator that millions were coming for that, and the network knew it). That alone may have made the difference.

On the negative side of the ledger, this is only about two million more viewers than the middling averages the Emmys had been posting in prior years, or before last year's CBS telecast. The hard fact remains: While many of us love the Emmys -- and I certainly count myself among the devotees -- the vast majority of us don't. They remain an awards show without the enormous appeal of the Grammys or the Oscars. And for an industry that is in the midst of a golden age, that is a strange paradox indeed. 

PHOTOS: The winners | Red carpet, ceremony highlights | Verne Gay's Ultimate Emmys

MORE: Emmys fashion overview | Fall TV preview

But 15.6 million is nothing to sneeze at; how about a Monday in the dead of August next year, too?

 

TV Critics Tour: Christopher Walken to star in NBC's 'Peter Pan Live'

Actor Christopher Walken at the premiere of "Seven

(Credit: AP / Matt Sayles)

Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan?" There is something deliciously obvious about this -- so obvious that it will in fact happen.

Walken-as-Hook was arguably the big TCA news Sunday -- and a surprise, too. (As a sidebar, NBC confirmed it had approached Kristen Bell for the role of Peter Pan; she demurred due apparently to work conflicts...) NBC's live telecast of 1954 musical...

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TV Critics Tour: Bill Cosby's return to NBC

Bill Cosby performs at the Funny or Die

(Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Leibson)

Beverly Hills -- Bill Cosby, or should I say, THE Bill Cosby, will be returning to NBC, possibly as early as next summer, in a still-untitled multigenerational family comedy, NBC Entertainment chief Jennifer Salke told reporters at the biannual "critics tour" here Sunday. Cosby's return to NBC had been reported months ago, but it was unclear at the time whether he would actually star in the series.

Unclear no more: He will play the patriarch of a large clan which doesn't sound a whole lot different from that famous Huxtable clan, in fact. NBC execs said there was no rush to get the series on the air, while the 2015 season could be just as likely a starting place. Meanwhile, Mike O'Malley -- of "Glee" -- has joined the series as a writer along with Mike Sikowitz, formerly a show-runner on "Rules of Engagement." O'Malley could have a starring role as well.

The idea of a "writer" on any Cosby-starring show, by the way, is an interesting concept: He went through many of them during the "Cosby" years in part because he ad-libbed a lot of material, and disdained the sitcom beat that was and is endemic to multi-cam comedies. He drove some of his writers batty and batty writers tend to leave ... (Not making this up, not that I would: It was well known during the show's run that he was a tough boss, and Mark Whitaker, in his forthcoming bio of the star, adds more detail.)

'Community' gets a sixth season, courtesy of Yahoo

Jonathan Banks as Hickey, left, and Joel McHale

(Credit: NBC)

Yahoo, which has lately been in the business of rebooting TV careers (Katie Couric), has now gone to series, and an especially good one: "Community."  

The company Monday announced, via a handful of websites, including its own, that the classic will return for a sixth season -- and thirteen episodes. For "Community" fans, this has to be one of those darkest -- before-the-dawn (or timeline) pieces of news, for Hulu had essentially passed on the revival a week ago. 

"I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo," "Community" creator Dan Harmon said in a statement. "I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, BangBus!"

 ("BangBus," as you might imagine, is a puckish Harmon reference to a porn series.)

Community's finale  -- or final scene -- kinda hinted the show just couldn't be taken out back and shot like any other NBC sitcom. Before long -- wouldn't you know it! -- there were those all-knowing reports to the online trades and other well-sourced places (which is to say agents talking to Sony or vice versa via the trades) that a revival was possible.

 But of course this is all very good news for fans of great TV and those true believers who never lost faith in the ability of Dan Harmon to pull one more rabbit out of whatever hat he actually wears. 

Will the entire cast return? Will most of the cast return? Details, mere details. We'll get back to you with some answers as soon as Yahoo figures out who else besides EW actually covers the TV business. May take a while...

NBC orders Bear Grylls series -- with celebrities

The British-born survival expert Bear Grylls will star

(Credit: NBC )

If the idea of a series called "Running Wild" featuring Zac Efron sounds both interesting as well as slightly felonious, then NBC has got the forthcoming summer trifle for you — a new Bear Grylls series in which he'll bring along celebrities for the ride.

The stars:  Zac Efron, Ben Stiller, Channing Tatum, Deion Sanders, Tom Arnold and “Today” co-anchor Tamron Hall.

The idea: Each will go out with Grylls for 48 hours on various adventures: "From skydiving into the Catskill Mountains, to rappelling down the cliffs of Utah and battling torrential wind and rain in Scotland ..."  (The obvious solution to his latter adventure is to get an umbrella, but apparently that's not an option.)

 "Running Wild With Bear Grylls" begins July 28. 

Brian Williams interviews Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower

Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee

(Credit: AP)

"Nightly News" last night said Brian Williams was "on assignment" -- and some assignment, indeed: He has scored the first American media interview with Edward Snowden, who is essentially under protective custody in Russia.

NBC just confirmed this massive scoop and offered more details -- a full hour interview will air at 10 next Wednesday.

Williams' in-person conversation with Snowden was conducted over the course of several hours and was shrouded in secrecy due to Snowden's life in exile since leaking classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs a year ago. Williams also jointly interviewed Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has reported stories based on the documents in media outlets around the world, about how they came to work together and the global debate sparked by their revelations.

Snowden released a vast trove of NSA "metadata" -- some of which revealed the NSA collection of phone and Internet traffic of U.S. citizens and the tapping into of personal phone communications of foreign leaders.  

 

NBC schedule and trailers

Actress Katherine Heigl attends the Reem Acra Fall

(Credit: Getty Images)

Happy Mother's Day.

Oh, right. Almost forgot. NBC announced some new shows today.

First, the schedule, then -- of much greater importance -- the trailers. Keep an eye on these three newcomers, "State of Affairs,"  "Marry Me," and "Bad Judge." NBC's placed them in the strongest possible positions on the fall schedule. 

Clips below. YOU be the judge. And a quick reminder, NBC does have a full slate of backups and midseason series. I'll get to those tomorrow. 

MONDAY

8-10 p.m. — “The Voice”

10-11 p.m. — “The Blacklist” / “State of Affairs” (NEW, beginning Nov. 17)

TUESDAY

8-9 p.m. — “The Voice”

9-9:30 p.m. — “Marry Me” (NEW)

9:30-10 p.m. — “About a Boy”

10-11 p.m. — “Chicago Fire”

WEDNESDAY

8-9 p.m. — “The Mysteries of Laura" (NEW)

9-10 p.m. — “Law & Order: SVU”

10-11 p.m. — “Chicago P.D.”

THURSDAY

8-9 p.m. — “The Biggest Loser”

9-9:30 p.m. — “Bad Judge” (“The Blacklist” beginning Feb. 5)

9:30-10 p.m. — “A to Z” (NEW)

10-11 p.m. — “Parenthood”

FRIDAY

8-9 p.m. — “Dateline NBC”

9-10 p.m. — “Grimm”

10-11 p.m. — “Constantine” (NEW)

SATURDAY

8-11 p.m. — Encore programming

SUNDAY

7-8:20 p.m. — “Football Night in America”

8:20-11:30 p.m. — “NBC Sunday Night Football”

2014-15 

Bad Judge

Marry Me Constantine The Mysteries of Laura State of Affairs

ESPN star producer named 'Today' chief

This Feb. 24, 2014 photo released by NBC

(Credit: AP / Peter Kramer)

In a move almost certain to set off renewed speculation about where the "Today" show is going (and who's going there with it), the network just named Jamie Horowtiz senior vice president and general manager of the franchise. Horowitz is -- or was -- a very big deal at ESPN, probably the most successful TV brand in the world, where he launched many shows, and was a lion-tamer as well: He brought back Keith Olbermann, who presumably has been happy with the boss, now making the big move from Bristol, Connecticut to Manhattan.

The speculation? Oh, the usual stuff: Who will replace Matt Lauer, likely to leave at the end of his current contract? ("Likely" - but one never knows until one knows, and the ratings do appear to have stabilized, and with them, Matt...) Josh Elliott of course began his career at ESPN, and the advent of the Horowitz era is certain to set off some thinking that he might be here to bridge some sort of gap between sports - where Elliott is based now - and "Today." Of course, that may be "baseless" thinking... Elliott continues to dash any idea that he is destined for "Today."

 But there's really one and only one job here -- to get "Today" back on top, and push "GMA" back to the place from whence it came (second). Horowitz certainly arrives on an interesting day, when NBCUniversal announced a $7-billion-plus multi-decade deal to air the Olympics; "Today" has long had a happy and symbiotic relationship with this enormous franchise...

 Here's the top of the release: 

Horowitz will lead the TODAY brand and drive greater integration and growth among all parts of the brand,...also explore new formats, such as extensions in digital, e-commerce, events and other opportunities to serve the audience beyond the day-to-day execution of the existing broadcast and digital platforms... "I am honored to join Deborah [Turness,NBC News president]'s team and help guide TODAY into the future," said Horowitz. "This is an exciting and invigorating opportunity, and I am humbled to work with one of the most indelible brands in television. I am also grateful to John Skipper and ESPN for the opportunities and support they have given me over the past eight years."

NBC News president supports embattled David Gregory in memo

A drop in ratings at "Meet the Press"

(Credit: NBC / Rob Kim)

Poor "Meet the Press" host David Gregory: Either the wolves are circling or the vultures, but either way, he has had a very bad couple of weeks. So much so that NBC News chief Deborah Turness took the highly unusual, and vaguely ominous, step Thursday morning of releasing an internal memo to the press stating her unconditional support for Gregory, while labeling some of his recent press flack "ludicrous."...

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NBC renews 'Parks and Recreation,' 'Grimm,' 'Chicago PD,' more

Jason Beghe as Hank Voight in "Chicago PD,"

(Credit: NBC)

In another indication that NBC's long-awaited turnaround is underway, the network Wednesday handed a new season to "Chicago P.D." the spinoff of "Chicago Fire," which was also renewed along with "Grimm."

If for some odd reason you are keeping a scorecard, that means "The Blacklist," "The Voice" and "Parks and Recreation" has also been added to the comeback list. This, you'll note, still leaves a lot of empty spaces on your score card, but it also means there will be added pressure on NBC to renew moderate-to-OK performers, including "Parenthood," "Community," and (very likely, in my opinion) the newcomer, "About a Boy." I'd expect a pickup for "Hannibal," too. "Crisis" and "Believe?" Depending on how they do Sunday, both may added to your scorecard one of these days, too.  

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