This was a dire prognosis for NBC - more severe than Reilly made for advertisers during the upfront presentations this past May. Not that critics and TV writers were anticipating anything else. Reilly told the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles NBC's "sense of entitlement... is gone." Serious mistakes were made. NBC was weak. And some of these problems pointed to NBC Universal TV Group president Jeff Zucker.
Zucker didn't address the critics yesterday - for the first time in years -- leaving Reilly to fend for himself. But Zucker did respond to the Associated Press: "I didn't hear that NBC made serious mistakes. I thought he expressed the position that NBC is in. We're in a rebuilding phase. Nobody's in denial about that."
Well, what kind of mistakes? We can all look in the rear view mirror and see what we have run over. Point to "Coupling," "Emeril," and a few other NBC disasters. But were those shows actual mistakes? Research and testing and history of those shows' pedigrees might have proved otherwise. (Research can do that for you).
Mistakes would seem to mean something more. Like forgetting to write a quick comeback line for Joey. A mistake might be not changing any show for the upcoming season for NBC's once dominant, now sagging Thursday night lineup.
Network programming chiefs don't need to address mistakes - just successful shows that they can somehow take credit for. Strange and weird premises can somehow take hold. How does anyone explain the retro-1950s-style show, "Dancing With the Stars"? But if it didn't work we could say it just didn't work - no finger pointing necessary.
NBC now says they want any veteran TV writer to consider a spec script for the network, which, in theory, will get the same attention any in-house writer's project gets. Reilly also wants to open the doors for any scripts that have been rejected at other networks.
If successful, then one could guess Reilly would point to other networks' mistakes.