NBCUniversal’s Saturday lineup at the winter Television Critics Association press tour came with lots of exciting news for critics: The Chucky TV series is happening on Syfy! A new show for Dwayne Johnson on NBC! Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are back as Golden Globes hosts!
It also came with some frustrations, as NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy was also met with questions regarding former America’s Got Talent co-host Gabrielle Union’s complains of workplace toxicity, as well as Saturday Night Live’s sudden firing of new hire Shane Gillis before the start of the sketch show’s new season. (Rotten Tomatoes, like television channels NBC and Syfy, is also a division of NBCUniversal).
Below, we’ve gathered some intel …
While much of the day was focused on broadcast network NBC, there was still news coming from the cable networks under the NBCUniversal umbrella. One big one is that Syfy has given a straight-to-series order for Chucky, a television show about the cherubic homicidal doll from the Child’s Play movies.
According to the press release, the plot follows what happens “after a vintage Chucky doll turns up at a suburban yard sale,” causing “an idyllic American town is thrown into chaos as a series of horrifying murders begin to expose the town’s hypocrisies and secrets.” Plus, it promises “the arrival of enemies — and allies — from Chucky’s past [who threaten] to expose the truth behind the killings, as well as the demon doll’s untold origins as a seemingly ordinary child who somehow became this notorious monster.”
Don Mancini, who wrote the 1988 film Child’s Play, created and will show-run this series. He’s also directing the first episode. He is executive producing along with David Kirschner, who produced that film, Nick Antosca and Harley Peyton.
A premiere date has yet to be announced.
Ricky Gervais promised that the 2020 Golden Globes ceremony would be his last as host, and it looks like he and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have made good on that; NBC announced on Saturday that close friends and network regulars, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, would return as co-hosts of the annual awards show.
Poehler announced the news herself at TCA, appearing on stage at the beginning of the press day in place of NBC Entertainment executive vice president of communications Chip Sullivan. She also shared that NBC has renewed Making It, the feel-good crafting show hosted by herself and Nick Offerman, for a third season. NBC is also working with Fey and her 30 Rock showrunner Robert Carlock on an untitled comedy that stars Ted Danson as mayor of Los Angeles and also includes Holly Hunter and Bobby Moynihan.
Before he was a charismatic Tweeter, former wrestler, star of HBO’s Ballers, and the world’s highest paid actor June 2018–June 2019 (according to Forbes), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a scrappy kid causing trouble. Johnson and Fresh Off the Boat’s Nahnatchka Khan will explore his trajectory for our entertainment in new series, The Young Rock. The sitcom, which Telegdy announced Saturday, has a straight-to-series order. While no premiere date has been announced, Johnson recorded a cellphone video for TCA that included him talking passionately about his roots and also promising that he would be featured in each episode.
Actress Gabrielle Union announced she’d be leaving her post as co-host of America’s Got Talent in December, citing a toxic work environment and causing NBC to launch an investigation into working conditions on the set of the popular reality competition show. Telegdy told journalists that this investigation is still on-going but he said that “we will put new practices into place, if necessary.”
Telegdy was also asked if new vetting policies were put in place after sketch show Saturday Night Live hired and then eventually fired Shane Gillis. The comedian lost his job after journalist Seth Simons and others brought to light his history of saying racist comments on his podcast.
The executive said that, while he does think SNL boss Lorne Michaels acted quickly, the incident “was a learning moment for a lot of people.”
Still, he added that ““vetting people is very triggering for people who live in a world of free speech and comedy … that it is an enormously fine line and a gray area.”
The latest NBC controversies follow other behind-the-scenes drama in recent years, including the ousting of Today show host Matt Lauer due to allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, and NBC News’ refusal to air Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein that went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and helped spawn the #MeToo movement.
The news that reboots and other iterations of classic shows like Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster are being developed for upcoming streaming service Peacock instead of NBC has raised eyebrows — and irked quite a few who don’t want to deal with another streamer. Telegdy said this was a studio decision, but “would I do Saved By the Bell again? Hell yeah!”
Telegdy also said his programming will appear on Peacock, saying “of course we’ve been working in partnership with them, because it’s called Peacock for a reason.”
In the meantime, NBC does have plenty of new and returning shows for you to watch. Telegdy announced Saturday that Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon will also host the network’s new series That’s My Jam. Based on musical segments from Fallon’s late-night show, the comedy variety series will allow celebrities to compete with each other through song and dance. It will premiere during the Tokyo Olympics.
NBC renewed New Amsterdam for three seasons, keeping the medical drama on the air at least through the 2022-23 television season, and renewed its successful holiday special event series Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways, from executive producer Ellen DeGeneres, for a new season.
The network also ordered 10-part global event series The New World from BBC Studios Natural History Unit, which is set to air in 2024. The series will scale across North America, Central America, and South America to explore the vast landscapes, remote wilderness and mysterious creatures of the region.
Syfy announced that it is developing limited series The League of Pan, which picks up where Peter Pan left off and follows a group of misfit youths who refuse to grow up. Dominion’s Brian McCauley Johnson is writing.
NBC’s press day also included a panel for its tear-jerker family drama This Is Us, where creator Dan Fogelman and the stars provided some teasers.
Co-star Sterling K. Brown said the mid-season premiere, which airs January 14, will continue to delve into his character Randall’s “mental health and how he takes care of himself — what’s right and what’s wrong about how he takes care of himself and how he could potentially do a better job of that.” Fogelman added that it will also kick off what those involved with the show call trilogy episodes, meaning that it will connect with subsequent episodes that will deal with Randall’s twin siblings, sister Kate (Chrissy Metz) and brother Kevin (Justin Hartley).
As for internet fan theories that the show in its entirety exists in the mind of one of the characters, similar to the reveal at the end of St. Elsewhere, or that it’s actually being told How I Met Your Mother–style with one character retelling the journey to others?
“I don’t think we’re going to pull the wool out of what the narrative thread of the story is,” Fogelman said.