BEVERLY HILLS — Hoping to ride the popularity of the Olympics, NBC plans to use the summer games to its fullest advantage.
During the event, expected to have a worldwide audience of more than 1 billion, NBC will air the pilot episodes of new comedies "Go" with Matthew Perry and "Animal Practice" with Justin Kirk.
This fall NBC is relying on new comedies, the Olympics and freshening some of its waning hits. The network is mired in third — and sometimes even fourth — place among the five major networks.
With the resurgence of the half-hour sitcom this fall on the major broadcast networks, NBC says it has to step up its game. No longer only content with having cult or critical hits on its schedule, the Peacock network is looking for comedies with more mass appeal. The network hasn't seen hit status on it comedies since the heydays of "Seinfeld" and "The Cosby Show."
Newcomers "Go On" and "Animal Practice" will be previewed during the Olympics on Aug. 8 and Aug. 12 respectively.
NBC has already moved "Community" and "Whitney" — two comedies with small but loyal audiences — to Friday nights, making room on Thursdays for more populist fare.
"We're in a transition with our comedies. 'Community' is a show that has always been on the bubble. We decided to bring it back and see what a fourth season could do for us," NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters here Tuesday.
Despite moving the show to a new night, with a new executive producer and commissioning only 13 episodes for next season, "Community" isn't necessarily on its last legs.
"The fans of 'Community' will get the show they loved since the beginning," Greenblatt said. "It was time to freshen the show. I would like nothing more than 'Community' to have an audience on Fridays."
NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke said the network is "in transition" and with that creative growing pains will result, including tweaking with its comedies.
"These show, especially our Thursday night shows, are great shows. We couldn't be prouder of them. We're in this transition. We hope the new shows in the fall and the spring could lift the network. Trying to broaden the comedies (audience)," Salke said.
"We are in this awkward stage" with the comedies, and trying to broaden them, she said.
Greenblatt points to "Whitney" and "Up All Night" as being examples of what NBC wants to do in the future.
"Shows like 'Whitney' and 'Up All Night' are steps in the right direction" for NBC, he said.
"We have to make as much as noise as we can" with our comedies, Salke said.
As for scripted dramas, Greenblatt promises changes in store for "Smash."
"I am inordinately proud of 'Smash.' We've had some ups and downs creatively as the season went along, as most shows do. We were inconsistently in the going back and forth with the characters," he said of "Smash."
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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