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TV PRESS TOUR

Miss a show? No problem

As it launches six new serialized dramas, NBC also plans websites to help anyone who needs to catch up later.

July 22, 2006|Maria Elena Fernandez | Times Staff Writer

NBC President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly has grown weary of the "Dear Moron" letters, so he's got a plan. And, yes, it does address the discontent with serialized television.

A relaxed Reilly -- he's been sailing in Mexico recently -- appeared during the television industry's press tour at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena on Friday to tout his new programming for the upcoming season. NBC has six new star-studded dramas, which also happen to be serialized -- a genre that critics here keep harping on because they believe viewers are being asked to commit to way too much television.

Reilly responded that viewers will be given a helping hand: The new shows will all launch with their own websites, which will include weekly video recaps of every episode as well as written summaries. Reilly is especially upbeat about this endeavor because advertisers seem to be responding in a big way to the approach. To the tune of "several hundred million dollars," he said.

The TV press also seemed to like the idea of catching up with a favorite show online because, as one critic in the audience pointed out, "the fish show" -- also known as last season's "Surface" -- let down those viewers who stuck with its complicated story arc only to find out that the show wouldn't return to the schedule this year.

Reilly was sympathetic. He joked that he had written to the "two viewers" who were disappointed when he canceled "Heist," but added that he does take the issue seriously.

"We don't like [alienating] our customers," Reilly said. "I get the e-mails, OK? I wake up in the morning and I get 'Dear Moron.' We know that takes a toll, but the nature of television is that when you're taking risks, you hope you're taking risks, you may wind up with 'Heist' or you might end up with 'Lost' or 'My Name Is Earl.' "

By the way, Reilly added: "That's not unique to serialized shows. Any show that gets canceled has had people who are upset or people who are angry who have invested in it. That's just the nature of what we do."

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