Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff, Co-Chairmen of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, recently discussed the upcoming season on NBC.
Ben Silverman: On Monday night we are going to launch what we hope to be one of the strongest nights of television of any network, leading off at 8 o'clock with Chuck, going into our hit Heroes, followed by Journeyman. We think this is an incredible night of television. All of these shows have male/female demographic interest and balance, and they also have an element of fantasy which, we think, runs through them and our strongest promotional platform in Sunday Night Football to drive viewers and audience into this great lineup of shows between our "Journeyman, Chuck, and our Heroes. And on Tuesday night, we're going to be putting on the #1 show among young adults over the past five summers, The Singing Bee. It debuted to a huge number for us this past Tuesday, over 13 million viewers, a 5.1 in the demo, and it's a show that we've loved since the summer and our process in bring Joey [Fatone] into host, and we have real belief in this show. And that will come out of the 90-minute The Biggest Loser, which, looking at the time period performance with the The Biggest Loser, always grew half-hour to half-hour to half-hour, and had its biggest ratings success in 90-minutes. So we think this is a compelling two hours leading into Law & Order and is going to be a really strong night of television for us as well and we're very excited about The Singing Bee. And that allowed us to give Friday Night Lights some more support. It enabled us to move Deal or No Deal to Friday at 8:00, which will be a strong, strong lead-in for Friday Night Lights which we have moved to 9 p.m., so that it can also being hammocked with -- between "Las Vegas" Deal or No Deal because we are incredibly excited to have Tom Selleck joining the cast of Las Vegas and feel that that franchise is going to reach new goals and new heights this year with the addition of Tom following Friday Night Lights and Deal or No Deal, making us very competitive on Friday night, another night that we hope to go after and win this coming Fall. Additionally, we have cast Isaiah Washington in The Bionic Woman. He will be in five of the first six episodes of The Bionic Woman and are very excited about him joining this show. We have also been able to personally, through our relationship with Jerry Seinfeld and via the interstitials we're going to be doing on Bee Movie with DreamWorks, we approached Jerry and called him up and asked if he would come back for one week to our Thursday night comedy night lineup where he had been such a powerhouse part of, and Jerry will be appearing in a role designed just for him as Jerry on 30 Rock, so we're thrilled that Jerry Seinfeld will be appearing in our premiere episode of 30 Rock and bringing his great tradition of NBC stardom and massive television stardom both to our air, both through Bee Movie interstitials, but now as Jerry Seinfeld in 30 Rock.
Also, I have been personally pursuing Norman Lear to come back to broadcast television and am thrilled with Marc to let you know he's coming back. Norman will be overseeing a tremendous young writer, Nina Colman, in a world that Norman knows incredibly well using character, emotion, and comedy to tell the story of a gender battle, basically looking and applying the sociological overlay that he's always done with his brilliant television shows, and here it's the cat and the dog. It's the man and the woman. It is a wonderful, wonderful battle of the sexes. One-hour comedy that we are fast-tracking in development and circling an A-list actor and actress for as we speak, so, so excited about Norman coming back to NBC. We also have been looking all around the world always for great shows, and we think we have found the next great reality format in a world never explored in reality television in America before, Phenomenon, featuring the unbelievable talents of Uri Geller and Criss Angel. We are looking for the next great mind-blower, the next great mentalist. If any of you can turn your computers on and off without touching them, this is your show.
We are going to be playing with interactivity. This is a show that was a massive hit in Israel, came out of the previous MIP in Europe with the most energy and attention around it. We actively pursued it. It's being launched in around 15 territories as we speak, and we will be going on air as soon as possible and are incredibly excited about what could be a game-changing television show. It's known in Israel as The Successor -- was the name as you look it up. We are calling it Phenomenon. In development, we have greenlit a pilot called Backyards in Bullets, featuring the incredible director Charles McDougall, who I had the pleasure of working with, who directed the pilot of the The Tudors. He also directed a number of episodes of T07A19gnoAOPUV for us where he displayed some incredible knack for comedy. But additionally, he directed the Desperate Housewives pilot. And this puts him back in suburban footing with a procedural dynamic underneath it, and we're really excited about this show. It's written by the writers of There's Something About Mary and The Santa Clause and, we think, has all the elements to become a breakthrough hit.
We've also inked a first-look deal with Charlie Corwin, who is a friend of mine and somebody I've wanted to be in business with for a long time, and hopefully will be sourcing us the next generation of quality writers, actors, and filmmakers out of New York. Charlie is best known for having put together and executive-produced Half Nelson, featuring Ryan Gosling, and the film The Squid and the Whale. Both of these films got tremendous recognition, are incredible stories around real people, and Charlie has an eye that we're so thrilled to tap into and he can be a base in New York for us to source and bring new ideas to us. And also, we have attached writers to two of our pieces of development, to "Kath & Kim" we have attached the writer Michelle Nader, who wrote an incredible spec script last summer that was about a dysfunctional family but grounded in reality and additionally worked on The King of Queens and, we believe, can really help make this unbelievable Australian format come to life. And we've also attached Gary Scott Thompson to Sin tetas no hay paraiso. Gary has done a tremendous job at NBC and Universal Media Studios running Las Vegas, and he came to us with an amazing Sabrina-like take on Sin Tetas, which we think is going to transform this format into an amazing, compelling television show and very excited around these announcements.
And then, a big announcement is Donald Trump will be back with The Apprentice and our new take of The Apprentice is celebrity. We looked overseas and saw how phenomenally well the British version of The Apprentice did with the celebrity version, and what could be more fun than Donald sharing his business acumen with celebrities on our air. The entire show will be for charity. Every one of the challenges will be for charity. And the winner will be playing as well at the end for charity. So we're thrilled to have Donald back, and we really believe in the The Apprentice as a perennial NBC reality franchise. And with Celebrity, we think we have a hook that's going to draw in the audience. So very excited about our busy past month. I hope that you'll see we have a large slate of programming shows from American hitmakers, shows from around the world, writers from our unbelievable stable at Universal Media Studios, as well as the next great reality franchise, so very excited about all of it.
Given what you've been saying about the multi-platform world, has Heroes almost become a prototype for what you're trying to do? It seems as if that has everything you're looking for in what a show can do these days.
Ben Silverman: It really does, but it started with it being a compelling piece of television. And what you're realizing is if you create -- it's no accident that our #1 comedy and our #1 drama have our most robust online life. So I think if you can make a great television show, you can build advertising connections to that show, you can build online connections to that show, you can build international revenues off that show. A hit does drive the business, and that hit has to kind of be acknowledged on the television platform, and then we can build so much of this around it. What we're shifting is we're building these things before they even reach air now so that they're ready to launch and they're ready to be tapped into from day one. And Heroes is an absolute model for what Marc and I are doing.
Marc Graboff: Yeah, I mean, I think you raise a really good point, a really good question in that Heroes, a hit television show is always the hub of a successful brand. But we're seeing it now that it is a brand that has many spokes to the hub, not just the television show. One of the great things about our company is we have some tremendous teams in place in all of our areas, in programming, in the digital area, in advertising, in product integration and brand integration, marketing deals, and we're all coming together as a team to exploit a hit television show that starts, as Ben said, with a hit television show into all aspects of exploitation, which benefits us, benefits the viewers, benefits the advertisers.