NBC is loading its new 2006-07 primetime schedule with six new dramas and four new comedies that accentuate distinctive talent, quality concepts and cornerstone dramas that will allow the network to play offense -- especially with its new weekend showpiece in "Sunday Night Football."
The annual program announcement was made today by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment, before the advertising community, affiliate stations and press at Radio City Music Hall.
"The face of NBC is changing," said Reilly. "We took the first step this season with Thursday hits 'My Name Is Earl' and 'The Office.' Next season we'll add momentum and excitement with the addition of 'Sunday Night Football' and establish a foundation of quality across the week by standing behind shows that each say something about who we are."
Highlights of the Fall 2006-07 season include two previously announced new dramas: "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (Thursdays, 9-10 p.m. ET), Emmy Award winner Aaron Sorkin's (NBC's "The West Wing") riveting insider's take on the backstage drama of a late-night comedy sketch show, with an all-star cast that includes Matthew Perry ("Friends"), Amanda Peet (Syriana) and Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing"); and "Kidnapped" (Tuesdays, 9-10 p.m. ET), a high-stakes, serialized thriller about a teenaged boy's kidnapping, starring Jeremy Sisto ("Six Feet Under") and Delroy Lindo (The Core).
Also new to Fall are the dramas Friday Night Lights (Tuesdays, 8-9 p.m. ET) -- inspired by the hit feature film that conveys the passion and sky-high expectations of a small Texas town for its top-ranked football team and stars Kyle Chandler (King Kong) -- as well as "Heroes" (Mondays, 9-10 p.m. ET), an epic drama centering on the radically changed lives of several ordinary people who find they possess extraordinary powers.
The two new comedies to arrive in the Fall are "20 Good Years" Wednesdays, (9-9:30 p.m. ET) and "30 Rock" (Wednesdays, 9:30-10 p.m. ET). "20 Good Years" is a high-energy romp starring Emmy winner John Lithgow ("3rd Rock from the Sun") and Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development") as mismatched buddies who realize that life doesn't last forever. "30 Rock" stars Emmy winner Tina Fey (NBC's "Saturday Night Live," Mean Girls) as the head writer of a frenetic late-night television variety show (Fey is also the writer and an executive producer with Lorne Michaels). Alec Baldwin (The Aviator, The Cooler") and Tracy Morgan (NBC's "Saturday Night Live") also star.
NBC's autumn lineup is buoyed by the return of the National Football League to NBC with "Sunday Night Football" (8-11 p.m. ET), anchored by Al Michaels and John Madden, and preceded by "Football Night in America" (7-8 p.m. ET), network television's first hour-long primetime pre-game show.
Consistent with NBC's ongoing strategy of introducing new series all season long, January will see the arrival of the previously announced drama "The Black Donnellys" -- from Oscar winners Paul Haggis ("Crash") and Bobby Moresco ("Crash"). The series is a gritty saga about four working-class Irish brothers' exploits in organized crime. It will debut on Thursdays (10-11 p.m. ET) and continue with consecutive original episodes. As a result, "ER" will premiere in its 13th season this Fall on Thursdays (10-11 p.m. ET) and will run with virtually continuous original episodes until its cliffhanger in December. The Emmy-winning series will resume after "The Black Donnellys" completes its first season.
After the NFL season concludes in January 2007, NBC will return to entertainment programs as it introduces a new Sunday-night lineup featuring "America's Got Talent" (8-9 p.m. ET) with newly announced host Regis Philbin presiding over a wide-open national talent contest produced by Simon Cowell ("American Idol"). "The Apprentice" (9-10 p.m. ET), with business titan Donald Trump, returns with a new edition based in Los Angeles. The reality series is followed by the new drama "Raines," starring Jeff Goldblum ("The Lost World: Jurassic Park") as an eccentric police detective in an inventive crime drama from Emmy-winning writer-producer Graham Yost ("Band of Brothers") and director-writer-producer Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption").
Also for mid-season, NBC can draw upon such new comedies as "The Singles Table," depicting a group of witty and single strangers who meet, console and befriend each other at a wedding, and "Andy Barker, P.I.," starring Andy Richter, who re-teams with co-writer and executive producer Conan O'Brien (NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien") as an earnest CPA who embraces the unlikely chance to become a private detective.
Fan favorites "Crossing Jordan" and "Scrubs" will return to the NBC schedule at some point later in the season.
Additional Fall schedule changes include the move of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" from Sundays (9-10 p.m. ET) -- due to the premiere of "Sunday Night Football" -- to Fridays (10-11 p.m. ET). Likewise, "My Name Is Earl" (8-8:30 p.m. ET) and "The Office" (8:30-9 p.m. ET) each move up one hour on Thursday nights.
Following is NBC's primetime series schedule for Fall 2006-07. Nightly strategy and show descriptions follow (all times are Eastern).
NBC PRIMETIME SCHEDULE FOR FALL 2006-07
*New programs in CAPS (with the exception of "ER")
8-9 p.m. "Deal or No Deal"
9-10 p.m. "HEROES"
10-11 p.m. "Medium"
8-9 p.m. "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS"
9-10 p.m. "KIDNAPPED"
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
8-9 p.m. "The Biggest Loser"
9-9:30 p.m. "20 GOOD YEARS"
9:30-10 p.m. "30 ROCK"
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order"
8-8:30 p.m. "My Name Is Earl" (new time)
8:30-9 p.m. "The Office" (new time)
9-10 p.m. "STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP"
10-11 p.m. "ER"/("THE BLACK DONNELLYS" in January 2007)
8-9 p.m. "Deal or No Deal"
9-10 p.m. "Las Vegas"
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (new day and time)
8-9 p.m. "Dateline Saturday"
9-11 p.m. Drama Series Encores
7-8 p.m. "FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA"
8-11 p.m. SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
NIGHT-BY-NIGHT PRIMETIME STRATEGY
Monday should remain strong for NBC, especially with the huge new promotional platform of "Sunday Night Football." Opening at 8 p.m., "Deal or No Deal" wins the time period with broad appeal and should drive viewers into the night's new tent-pole series "Heroes," a stylish drama with strong breakout potential. The new show should prove to be highly compatible with the suspenseful series "Medium" at 10:00 p.m.
NBC kicks off at 8 p.m. with "Friday Night Lights," a new drama that transcends sports and should be ideal for families to view together. NBC follows this with another new drama, "Kidnapped," a tense serial thriller that should team well with the 10:00 p.m. incumbent "Law & Order: SVU," which continues to dominate despite soft lead-ins this past season. Film star Connie Nielsen ("Gladiator") joins the "SVU" cast for six episodes early in the season while series star Mariska Hargitay is on maternity leave.
"The Biggest Loser" proved to be a refreshing success story last year at 8 p.m., and it ended its second cycle with record numbers, boosting NBC to its biggest non-Olympics Tuesday in five years. It will be used to combine with the evergreen "Law & Order" at 10:00 p.m. to hammock two new comedies. At 9 p.m., Emmy winner John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor are set to win over audiences with their masterful chemistry in "20 Good Years." That leads into the 9:30 p.m. time period premiere of "30 Rock," starring Emmy winner Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan. Then Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" will return re-invigorated by exciting cast changes aimed at keeping the show fresh and competitive.
NBC's traditional flagship night starts with two of television's most popular new series in "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office." Expect renewed vitality on the night with the arrival of the much-anticipated "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" in the vital 9 p.m. hour followed by "ER" -- the series that has defined Thursdays (10-11 p.m. ET) for a dozen years. However, the medical drama will have a decided edge this year with all original telecasts leading to a cliffhanger in December. Additionally, John Stamos joins the regular cast as he reprises his role as Tony Gates, a charming Gulf War vet working through medical school as a paramedic. In January, "The Black Donnellys," from Oscar winners Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco (both for "Crash"), will premiere in the time period. "ER" will complete its season in the time slot following the run of "The Black Donnellys."
NBC will stick with stability with time-period champ "Deal or No Deal" at 8 p.m. followed by "Las Vegas" and its loyal audience at 9:00 p.m. Closing out Fridays at 10:00 p.m. will be "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," which re-locates from Sundays due to the NFL, after having performed solidly against intense competition on the night.
"Dateline Saturday" will continue at 8 p.m. and encore telecasts of NBC dramas will run at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.
In addition to delivering a powerful night of television, "Sunday Night Football" will greatly increase NBC's promotional platforms leading into each Fall week. This four-hour package also allows NBC to reach an elusive young male demographic. When series programming returns in January, "America's Got Talent" with host Regis Philbin will take over the 8 p.m. hour. "The Apprentice" follows at 9:00 p.m., creating a strong unscripted block. At 10:00 p.m., "Raines" is a quirky police drama that stars the appealing Jeff Goldblum.
2006-07 NEW SERIES DESCRIPTIONS
"STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP" -- Emmy Award-winning executive producer-writer Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing") and Emmy Award-winning executive producer-director Thomas Schlamme ("The West Wing") return to television with this crackling take on the drama behind the humor of producing a popular, late-night comedy sketch show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." Sorkin lays bare the backstage politics, romances and delicate balance between creative talent, on-air personalities and network executives in an instant text-messaging world. Prominent are Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet, Syriana), a savvy new network entertainment chief who inherits a massive public relations disaster on the series -- even before she starts her first day -- and Matt Albie (Matthew Perry, "Friends") and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford, "The West Wing"), a brilliant creative team that she wants to resurrect the program. Also playing crucial roles are the sketch comedy series stars Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson, "Down with Love"), Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley, "The Hughleys") and Tom Jeter (Nathan Corddry, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"), their normally cool-headed director, Cal Shanley (Timothy Busfield, "thirtysomething") as well as supreme network honcho Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber, "Wings"). Evan Handler ("Sex and the City") and Carlos Jacott ("Being John Malkovich") also star. The series is a production of Warner Bros. Television.
"HEROES" -- The epic drama "Heroes" chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. As a total eclipse casts it shadow across the globe, viewers follow a genetics professor (Sendhil Ramamurthy, "Blind Guy Driving") in India whose father's disappearance leads him to uncover a secret theory -- there are people with super powers living among us. A young dreamer (Milo Ventimiglia, "The Bedford Diaries") tries to convince his politician brother (Adrian Pasdar, "Judging Amy") that he can fly. A high school cheerleader (Hayden Panettiere, "Ice Princess") learns that she is totally indestructible. A Las Vegas stripper (Ali Larter, "Final Destination"), struggling to make ends meet to support her young son (Noah Gray-Cabey, "My Wife & Kids"), uncovers that her mirror image has a secret. A prison inmate (Leonard Roberts, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") mysteriously finds himself waking up outside of his cell. A gifted artist (Santiago Cabrera, "Empire"), whose drug addiction is destroying his life and the relationship with his girlfriend (Tawny Cypress, "Third Watch"), can paint the future. A down-on-his-luck beat cop (Greg Grunberg, "Alias") can hear people's thoughts, including the secrets of a captured terrorist. In Japan, a young man (Masi Oka, "Scrubs") develops a way to stop time through sheer will power. Their ultimate destiny is nothing less than saving the world. "Heroes" is executive produced by creator/writer Tim Kring ("Crossing Jordan), Dennis Hammer ("Crossing Jordan") and David Semel (House), who also directed the pilot. The drama is from NBC Universal Television Studio.
KIDNAPPED" -- "Kidnapped" is a high-stakes, serialized thriller in which the teenaged son of a wealthy Upper East Side family is kidnapped and everyone is a suspect. The series focuses on the elaborate, triangulated game between the kidnappers, law enforcement, FBI, and the private negotiating team of the "perhaps" less-than-picture-perfect family. The ensemble cast includes Jeremy Sisto ("Six Feet Under"), Delroy Lindo (The Core), Emmy winner Dana Delany ("China Beach"), Timothy Hutton ("Kinsey"), Mykelti Williamson ("Boomtown"), Linus Roache ("Batman Begins"), Carmen Ejogo ("Lackawanna Blues"), Will Denton ("Palindromes") and Boris McGiver ("The Pink Panther"). "Kidnapped" is produced by Sony Pictures Television and 25C Productions. David Greenwalt ("Angel"), Jason Smilovic ("Karen Sisco"), Michael Dinner ("Invasion"), Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly are executive producers; Dinner is the director and Smilovic is the writer.
"THE BLACK DONNELLYS" -- Academy Award winners Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco ("Crash") are the creators of "The Black Donnellys," a gritty new crime drama series loosely based on Moresco's background. The series follows the exploits of four young, working-class Irish brothers and their involvement in organized crime in New York City. Despite their rough surroundings, the Donnelly brothers basically remain "good kids" -- who will do anything to protect each other against all odds. The ensemble cast includes Jonathan Tucker ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), Billy Lush ("Huff"), Thomas Guiry ("Mystic River"), Michael Stahl-David ("Uncle Nino"), Keith Nobbs ("25th Hour"), Olivia Wilde ("The O.C.") and Kirk Acevedo ("Oz"). Haggis, who directed the pilot, and Moresco are the creators, executive producers and co-writers. The series is from NBC Universal Television Studio in association with Blackfriars Bridge Productions.
"RAINES" -- Emmy Award-winning writer-producer Graham Yost ("Band of Brothers," "Boomtown"), acclaimed director-writer-producer Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption," "Green Mile") and star Jeff Goldblum ("The Lost World: Jurassic Park") combine creative forces in this inventive police drama, which blends traditional noir storytelling with humor and intrigue. Eccentric LAPD detective Michael Raines' unique ability to have detailed conversations with deceased crime victims allows him to re-trace their lives leading up to their murder and helps him to solve their cases. Unfortunately, it also causes increasing friction with his boss, Captain Daniel Lewis (Matt Craven, "From the Earth to the Moon"), fellow officers Remy Boyer (Dov Davidoff, "Third Watch") and Sally Lance (Linda Park, "Star Trek: Enterprise"), as well as civilian employee Carolyn (Nicole Sullivan, "MADtv"). Aided by Charlie (Luis Guzman, "Boogie Nights"), his ex-LAPD partner and conscience, Raines struggles to accept his peculiar gift -- or burden -- as it often forces him at times to confront his own past and internal demons. "Raines" is from NBC Universal Television Studio.
"20 GOOD YEARS" -- This high-energy comedy follows two New Yorkers who have finally realized that life doesn't last forever. Mismatched buddies John Mason (Emmy Award winner John Lithgow, "3rd Rock from the Sun"), an impulsive, thrice-divorced surgeon who has been forced into retirement -- and Jeffrey Pyne (Jeffrey Tambor, "Arrested Development"), a widower judge who agonizes over every situation -- are polar opposites in every way. The one thing the duo can agree on is that they only have about 20 good years left and both men vow to live each day as if it were their last -- with no regrets. "20 Good Years" also stars Heather Burns ("Bewitched") as John's pregnant daughter Stella, and Jake Sandvig ("The Story of Us") as Hugh, Jeffrey's un-motivated son. The executive producers are Tom Werner ("Roseanne"), Eric Gold (the upcoming "Outsourced") Jimmy Miller ("Kicking & Screaming") and Marsh McCall ("Modern Men"). Marsh McCall and Michael Leeson ("The Cosby Show") are the writers; Terry Hughes ("Friends") directed the pilot. "20 Good Years" is produced by Warner Bros.Television.
"30 ROCK" -- Emmy Award winner Tina Fey (NBC's "Saturday Night Live," Mean Girls) writes, executive-produces and stars in this workplace comedy that takes viewers behind the scenes of a frenetic television variety show. Single Liz Lemon (Fey) is living every comedy writer's dream. She's head writer on a demanding, live TV program in New York City whose life is jolted when a brash new network president (Alec Baldwin, The Aviator, "The Cooler") interferes with her show and bullies Liz into convincing Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan, "Saturday Night Live," "The Longest Yard"), a wild and unpredictable movie star, to join the cast. Now Liz must manage the unmanageable so that the show -- and her dream -- can go on. Also starring are Rachel Dratch ("Saturday Night Live") as Jenne DeCarlo, Scott Adsit ("Kicking and Screaming") as Pete Hornberger and Jack MacBrayer ("Arrested Development") as Kenneth. "30 Rock" is executive-produced by Lorne Michaels, Fey, JoAnn Alfano, Marci Klein and David Miner, and is produced by Broadway Video Television and NBC Universal Television Studio.
"ANDY BARKER, P.I." -- Andy Richter ("Late Night with Conan O'Brien") re-teams with co-writer and executive producer Conan O'Brien in this comedy as he portrays Andy Barker, an earnest, hard-working CPA who has succeeded at everything -- that is until his new accounting business fails to take off. But when he's mistaken for Lew Staziak (Harve Presnell, "Fargo") -- the retired private detective who used to occupy his office -- Andy embraces the twist of fate and takes the case. Andy's incessantly supportive wife Jen (Amy Farrington, "The New Adventures of Old Christine") isn't sold on this risky new venture, that is, until she notices a sudden boost in Andy's self-confidence. Andy's neighboring merchants -- Simon (Tony Hale, "Arrested Development"), Wally (Marshall Manesh, "Will & Grace") and Jessica (Ion Overman, "The L Word") join him in the dicey investigation. Whether chiding thugs for "renting instead of buying" or being pursued by Sri Lankan gangsters, Andy will prove to be a consummate problem-solver. This comedy series is written by "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" host O'Brien and former head writer Jonathan Groff ("Ed"), who executive-produce the series with "Late Night" executive producer Jeff Ross and David Kissinger. "Andy Barker, P.I." is from NBC Universal Television Studio and Conaco. The pilot was directed by Jason Ensler ("The West Wing").
"THE SINGLES TABLE" - In this comedy, a group of witty and single strangers -- Ivan (John Cho, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"), Eli (Conor Dubin, "Close to Home"), Adam (Jarrad Paul, "The Shaggy Dog") and Stephanie (Rhea Seehorn, "Modern Men") - meet at a wedding and suddenly realize they have one thing in common, they are each a party of one stuck at a remote singles table. Because of their solo status and tenuous relationships with the bride and groom, they are all destined for Table 18, a far corner of the wedding reception. But through the course of the party, each emotionally vulnerable person questions his or her life's issues and vows to make it better. For richer or poorer, these five kindred spirits will grow to become good friends -- and, in some cases, they may become more than that. Written by Bill Martin ("Grounded for Life," "3rd Rock from the Sun") and Mike Schiff ("Grounded for Life," "3rd Rock from the Sun"), "The Singles Table" is from 20th Century Fox Television. Adam Bernstein ("The Bedford Diaries," "Scrubs") is the director.
Primetime Sports Programming
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL -- The National Football League returns to NBC in this spectacular primetime showcase as Al Michaels will call "NBC Sunday Night Football" games with John Madden, the most honored analyst in television history with 15 Emmy Awards. Coverage also includes sideline and feature reporter Andrea Kremer. NBC's 2006 NFL schedule kicks off on Thursday, September 7, with the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Miami Dolphins. NBC's inaugural Sunday "Football Night in America" game on September 10 features the first meeting of sibling quarterbacks as Eli Manning's New York Giants host Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. This season, the league will also implement for the first time in history primetime "flexible scheduling" for NBC's primetime Sunday games in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17.
"FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA" -- Bob Costas, an 18-time Emmy Award winner, hosts NBC's studio show alongside co-host Cris Collinsworth, a six-time Emmy winner. They are joined by analyst Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular players in recent NFL history, and Sterling Sharpe, considered one of the most opinionated analysts with the NFL Network and ESPN. Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country's foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the studio show.