Jonathan Storm: NBC announces 12 new shows

"Celebrity Apprentice" will be back, with or without Trump, says entertainment chief.

Among three new dramas to debut in the fall is "The Playboy Club," set in early-'60s Chicago.

Stating that his two major goals for 2011-12 are to expand the network's comedy lineup and nurture the new singing competition The Voice into a "multiyear juggernaut," NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt announced Sunday that six new comedies and six new dramas would air on the Peacock. Half will premiere in the fall, and half at midseason.

Greenblatt acknowledged that the network, perennially fourth-ranked in prime time, faced a rough road. "If we could do one or two things really successfully," Greenblatt said, "I would be thrilled."

He predicted that Sundays would proceed with football in the fall, despite the NFL's labor troubles, and with Celebrity Apprentice in the winter, despite host Donald Trump's professed presidential ambitions.

NBC had been leaning hard on Trump to announce his intentions before Sunday's scheduling announcement. If The Donald does run, Greenblatt said, "we will bring the show back, and somebody else will be sitting at the head of the boardroom table."

As expected, Law & Order: Los Angeles got the ax, and Chuck and Harry's Law were renewed.

New dramas for midseason include Smash, a musical series from Steven Spielberg; Awake, about a detective living in two worlds after an auto accident kills his wife in one and his son in the other; and The Firm, based on the John Grisham novel and movie.

New comedies for midseason include Bent, about sparks between a divorcee and her remodeling contractor; Best Friends Forever, young singles muddling through romance; and "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea," in which Laura Prepon of That '70s Show plays late-night wisegal Chelsea Handler.

In a conference call Sunday with TV reporters, Greenblatt, hired by Comcast as part of its takeover of NBCUniversal, praised his bosses, Brian Roberts and Steve Burke, for staying out of his hair.

He said he arrived "in the nick of time before we had to start picking projects" and that he was happy to take ownership of them, even if some of the development started before he took the job.

Asked why he was holding Smash for the winter, Greenblatt said, "We're taking the full-season view of the schedule next year. The Voice is an enormous lead-in for any show."

The fall's new series:

Prime Suspect. Local actress Maria Bello takes over the Helen Mirren role in a remake of the stunning PBS movie series. She's named Jane Timoney, not Tennyson, and the series is set in New York.

The Playboy Club. Brian Grazer (24, A Beautiful Mind) tries to up the Mad Men ante with a show set in the early '60s at the Chicago Playboy Club. The emphasis appears to be more on politics and mob stuff than bunny behavior.

Grimm. Describes the task of trying to summarize a show about a detective who learns that he's descended from special hunters who have been fighting forever to save the world from supernatural creatures. And it all has something to do with Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Whitney. University of Pennsylvania grad Whitney Cummings gets edgy in a rom-com about unmarrieds who start to worry that their relationship has gone stale. And guess what? There are six cute actors altogether, including two kooky gal pals, a perfect boyfriend, and a committed bachelor.

Up All Night. NBC has a lot riding on this one, as it tries to open comedies on Wednesday night. Christina Applegate and Will Arnett star as new parents. She's career-driven. He's a househusband. Maya Rudolph plays Applegate's crazy boss, in a show from Saturday Night Live writer Emily Spivey and her boss, Lorne Michaels.

Free Agents. Another one borrowed from the Brits. Coworkers (Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn) dance around whatever romantic relationship they have while other coworkers cut up.


Jonathan Storm: Fall Lineup: NBC

New shows in bold


7, Football Night in America; 8:15, Sunday Night Football


8, The Sing-Off; 10, The Playboy Club


8, The Biggest Loser; 10, Parenthood


8, Up All Night; 8:30, Free Agents; 9, Harry's Law;

10, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit


8, Community; 8:30, Parks & Recreation; 9, The Office; 9:30, Whitney;

10, Prime Suspect


8, Chuck; 9, Grimm; 10, Dateline



Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or Read his recent work at