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It's showtime for NBC prez Bob Greenblatt

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.

There are few less gratifying chores for a new network entertainment president -- who also happens to be overseer of a fourth-place network -- than to come before the assembled press here with hat in hand. Promises must be made, impressions scored and a prevailing sense banished.

But yesterday, Bob Greenblatt took a slightly different tack: Humility leavened with optimism stripped of hype. The word that may best describe NBC's latest entertainment chief may simply be "sane," or at least "rational."

"Given all the doom and gloom in the industry and for our little network, I think it's been a pretty good spring and summer," he said, without needing to mention "The Voice" or "America's Got Talent." "The goal here is to rebuild the schedule [and] inject some excitement."

By disposition, Greenblatt doesn't comfortably toss around words like "excitement"; with a soft voice and neatly trimmed beard, the former Showtime chief almost seemed hesitant at moments, anxious to avoid the impression that he's just another placeholder hustling a crowd that's used to hustlers. Instead, his easy-to-say, hard-to-do plan is "to bring some of the creative vitality we had at Showtime to NBC [and] find [show runners] with a voice that you really love, and stay out of the way."

'EMPOWERMENT' AT 'THE PLAYBOY CLUB'? Your impression -- if you have any -- of that cultural dinosaur, the Playboy Club, might be something roughly akin to a Hooters in bunny costumes, but the show runners of the new fall NBC series of the same name (Mondays at 10) sought to dismiss all that yesterday. This newcomer, they said, is about "empowerment" for women. Eddie Cibrian ("CSI: Miami") stars as the slick club operator in thrall to mob elements. He's overseer of scantily clad women who sing, dance and proffer drinks to a leering male clientele more interested in the view. It's got a '60s vibe that's more indebted to "Mad Men" than to Hugh Hefner.

"We intend to show characters in a certain time and place, without anything racy or being exploitative. ... Content is mild compared to a lot of stuff on TV," said executive producer Ian Biederman.

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