TCA 2008: NBC Execs Talk Amy Poehler, THE OFFICE & Leno

By: Kevin Kelly, Special TCA Correspondent

NBC head honchos Marc Graboff and Ben Silverman, both the co-chairmen of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios took the stage to talk about all things NBC, which pretty much became the “Amy Poehler / Office Spinoff / Jay Leno” panel.

Amy Poehler is leaving SNL this season after her baby is born (due in October), and they just announced that they’ve locked her in for a Thursday night show of her own… which isn’t named right now. It’ll be produced by Greg Daniels and Mike Schur, who Graboff called “The next Greg Daniels.” It’s not a spinoff of The Office, but a brand new show… and they’re saying that the actual The Office spinoff, which is still happening is like “The Jeffersons” was to “All in The Family”. Amy isn’t involved with The Office spinoff, and characters from The Office won’t be appearing on the spinoff, or vice versa.

Jay Leno actually asked questions from the audience, disguised as a reporter. He wanted to know things like “NBC brought back Knight Rider, any chance of seeing Manimal?” and “Is there any truth to the rumor that you’ve offered Jay Leno a fifth hour on the Tonight Show?” and “Brett Favre announced his retirement from the Packers and now it looks like he’s coming back. What do you think about that?” They did announce that they’re working on keeping Jay Leno within the NBC/Universal family. With that in mind, Conan O’Brien’s start date on The Tonight Show will be June 1, 2009.

As you probably know by now, Heroes: Origins isn’t happening, and Marc Graboff said “That was unfortunately a victim of the strike.” They want to concentrate on keeping Heroes what it is, especially since they’re doing 26 to 28 episodes this season. According to Graboff, “Tim Kring has nailed it.” He just watched a rough cut of the first episode, and he’s totally stoked for it.

They also addressed the issue that they’d announced a direct Office spinoff in April, but then had the lucky opportunity to work out a deal with Amy Poehler, and that translated into this new show not being a spinoff, but rather an original show… that doesn’t link to The Office. As mentioned before, they’re also working on a real The Office spinoff, which would appear sometime later in the season. Confused yet? I sure am.

Someone asked them if they thought that the Knight Rider TV movie was just a two-hour commercial for a car, and Graboff responded with “Well, it’s a show about a car…” So you do the math.

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