Rockford's TV "Voice" talks about rebuilding prime time - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford's TV "Voice" talks about rebuilding prime time

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Bob Greenblatt explains to 13News Anchor Eric Wilson why it's so tough for TV shows to succeed Bob Greenblatt explains to 13News Anchor Eric Wilson why it's so tough for TV shows to succeed

Some people call Robert Greenblatt one of the most powerful TV executives in Hollywood. The name might not mean much to you, but if you went to Boylan High School in the late 70s, chances are you know Bob. He's a graduate - class of '78.

35 years later, during the busy "pilot" season, Bob took time out of his schedule to sit down with 13News anchor Eric Wilson in Los Angeles, to talk about how a skinny red- headed kid with glasses from Rockford, ended up in charge of entertainment at NBC.

"Essentially I am responsible for developing and coming up with, with the help of a lot of people, the programming that you see, primarily prime time," Bob says.

When Bob came to NBC the network was not doing well.  Ratings had fallen.  There was a series of management changes.  In fact, some people in the industry referred to him as "Bob the Rebuilder".

This is what the "Hollywood Reporter" had to say in November 2010:

"It's not clear whether any mortal can save NBC, but if anyone has a shot it might be Robert Greenblatt, who will oversee entertainment programming once NBC Universal's merger with Comcast is completed."

"They were nice to say that," Bob says. "We're 2 and-a-half years in to what we said at the beginning would be 4 or 5 years at the least to get things on the right track."

Things seemed to be really on the right track this fall.  Bob says he wasn't surprised that there would be some improvement.

"What did surprise us was that we were #1 for 13 of the 15 weeks of the fall - the first time in 9 years that's happened."

But the ratings rollercoaster took a dive in February.  Hit shows like "The Voice", and "Revolution" weren't on the schedule.  Neither was football.  That hurt.  May was a much different story - best performance for NBC in 9 years according to the network.

According to Bob, "The odds are so great against any of these shows working nowadays, because there are so many networks, and so many cable networks, and there's so much competition."

Bob knows about that competition.   He was a big part of it not too long ago.  He came to NBC from Showtime, where he was responsible for programming like "Dexter", "Nurse Jackie",  and "The Tudors".  Bob also produced the award-winning HBO series "6 Feet Under".  He started his television career at the FOX Network.

"We were not even really considered a grown up network.  We were dismissed by most of the industry," Bob says.

Bob ran prime time programming there, and oversaw some shows you might have heard of: "Beverly Hills 90210", "X-Files", "Party of 5", and "Melrose Place."  Now he's proud of his NBC successes, like "The Voice".

"It feels good to have something that can really break through at a time when it's very difficult to amass a group into any one show."

Bob says he's got several to be proud of.  "Grimm", "Chicago Fire", "Revolution", and "Hannibal" have all been strong.  In fact he calls "Hannibal" the best reviewed show since he's been at NBC.  Some series can take a while to develop.

"Seems like they either take more time, or you know instantly," Bob says. "It's in the middle where it gets really difficult."

Put the show, "Parenthood" in that category.

"If you creatively think it's going in the right direction, you believe in the people behind it, you believe it can work, then you stick with it."

Sometimes, no matter how much you believe in a show, it just doesn't work.  Part of the problem is the audience, and how differently we watch shows than when Bob started his career.

"A DVR allows you to move shows around," Bob says.  "You don't have to watch them when they're on the air.  You can marathon them on the weekend if you want. You can watch on Netflix.  You can watch on Hulu."

Bob says the way around that is to create a live event that people want to see when it airs, like the last 2 nights of "The Voice".

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