NBC to follow 'Sound of Music' with live 'Peter Pan'

5:59 PM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
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Bob Greenblatt is entertainment chief at NBC. (Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)

PASADENA, Calif. - NBC had great ratings - if not reviews - with its live version of The Sound of Music, starring Carrie Underwood. So it's trying another one: A live remake of Peter Pan, from the same producing team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, will air Dec. 4, almost a year to the day after Music, which drew a big 18.6 million viewers for the live broadcast. Pan has not yet been cast, though in contrast to many productions, the title role will likely be played by a male actor.

Speaking to TV critics Sunday, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt thanked Jay Leno for "making television history," and said he'd like to air specials, a car show (Leno is an auto buff) or other new projects, but said Leno won't discuss future plans until his show wraps up on Feb. 6.

Jimmy Fallon (who is inheriting The Tonight Show), Garth Brooks and Billy Crystal (Leno's first guest) will be among the final guests. Fallon takes over on Feb. 17, the second week of the Olympics, when his show will air at midnight ET/PT, and Meyers takes over for Fallon on Late Night on Feb. 24, when Tonight moves back to its regular slot.

"Jimmy and Seth will be the new late-night lineup, hopefully for the rest of my life, and certainly the rest of my career," Greenblatt says.

In other news:

-- The network has signed a three-year producing deal with Amy Poehler, the former SNL star, current Parks and Recreation star and Golden Globes co-host. (And Greenblatt says Parks "is going to have a seventh season.") Among her first projects is Old Soul, a pilot starring Natasha Lyonne as an aide to elderly people.

-- NBC has ordered Emerald City, a 10-episode update on The Wizard of Oz featuring a "headstrong' 20-year-old Dorothy Gale in an "epic and bloody" battle for control of Oz. And it's committed to an eight-episode miniseries The Slap, from Jon Robin Baitz (Brothers & Sisters), "about a family that gets torn apart when a child gets slapped at a family barbecue," Greenblatt says, and "the incident devolves all the way to an ugly court case."

-- The network has ordered a pilot episode for State of Affairs, that would mark former Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl's return to TV, this time as a CIA agent.

Ratings are up 10% this year - the network has climbed to second place behind CBS among total viewers - thanks to strong numbers from Sunday Night Football, The Voice and new hit The Blacklist. But Thursday's lineup - once NBC's strong suit - has proved "a real, real uphill battle," as The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World have flatlined and Community and Parks have loyal but small fan bases. "We're going to have to look at how much comedy will be on our schedule," Greenblatt says. It's always dicey to say anything definitive."

One solution: A Thursday package of NFL games the league is shopping around, as a simulcast with its own NFL Network. Greenblatt declined comment on whether NBC will bid, but says "we'd love to have more NFL games."

(Copyright © 2014 USA TODAY)

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