Can Peter Pan pull NBC out of Neverland?

Greenblatt (middle) with Growing Up Fisher star J.K.
Simmons (left) and EP Jason Bateman

PASADENA, CA–Really Robert Greenblatt? You never knew NBC had mounted a production of Peter Pan before?
The NBC Chairman began his executive session Sunday by announcing that the network would follow up the spectacular success of The Sound of Music Live with a stage production of Peter Pan this December.
Greenblatt said he was surprised to learn NBC had dome Peter Pan before. Whhaat?? That’s like getting hired as Chairman of the Yankees and not knowing about Babe Ruth. Greenblatt’s background is theatre, for Pete’s sakes.
He does seem to have done his homework now. Greenblatt talked about the ’55 version with Mary Martin, an enormous draw back when TV was new. How enormous? It pulled 65 million viewers, a record for the time that stood pretty much until The Beatles hit Ed Sullivan. My guess is that it is a number never topped on NBC outside Super Bowl broadcasts. The colour production sold a lot of TV sets for NBC’s then parent company, RCA. The network mounted the show again in ’56 and in ’60, all with Martin in the lead.

Mary Martin soared in NBC’s ’55 original of Peter Pan

You always expect network executives are fully formed historians about their shops, or that just by walking the halls of 30 Rock, all this history just seeps in by osmosis. I mean, Martn’s Peter Pan triumph happened before even I was born, yet I knew it was a big deal in the ’50s.
Greenblatt, of course, has more immediate concerns, not the least of which is the big hand off in late night. Jay Leno’s last Tonight Show airs Feb. 6, says Greenblatt, with Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks as guests.
The TV executive bent over backwards to tell critics how much Leno meant to the network and how likable and classy the late night host has been throughout this transition. Translation: Jay, please stay. Please please please stay.
Greenblatt said later in the scrum that Leno’s production company still has an office on the NBC lot and will all year, even though Leno’s Tonight deal ends after the sixth.
Leno is not at this press tour and Greenblatt said he wanted to give the comedian space and, after the dust settles, let him come to him.
As for casting on Peter Pan, Greenblatt would not name names, fearful of blowing any pending deal. Speculation in the room ranged from Taylor Swift to one name Greenblatt jokingly did throw out, Miley Cyrus. Swift would seem to be the ideal choice coming off Carrie Underwood’s Sound of Music ratings–if not critical–success. Hiring Cyrus could pitch a wrecking ball through the wholesome, Christmas-y feel to the whole deal. She might start twerking crocodiles and the Lost Boys and that ain’t good.
Greenblatt “went out on a limb” and declared that Parks and Recreation will be back for a seventh season. This after being teased about using the term “bullish.” Sounds like the exec is open to more Community, too.

He was less bullish on the fate of The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves The World, pretty much throwing dirt on both sitcoms. We could move Fox but it probably wouldn’t help, he actually said out loud. He says he likes that show and is frustrated NBC could not bring viewers to it.
NBC announced a few miniseries, including Emerald City, a 10-part look at a 20-year-old Dorothy. It also came out in the scrum that NBC is doing a special with former SNLer Maya Rudolph that could wind up as a full-blown variety series.
They also have an eight-hour miniseries about a kid who gets slapped, an announcement which led to many twitter jokes. Okay, from me.
On rumours NBC was chasing more NFL football for Thursday nights, Greenblatt offered a terse, “no comment”–so, yeah, they are in the hunt for those games suddenly up for grabs. Who isn’t?
Greenblatt dismissed Fox boss Kevin Reilly’s bold “no more pilots” stance, saying, “I hear he abandoned pilots, but he just picked up a bunch of prototypes with intent to go to series.”

Despite a turn toward more wholesome, family fare with the Broadway adaptations, Greenblatt says he’s happy to also have nasty, evil shows on his network. So, please, go ahead, obsess about Hannibal, he urged.

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