NBC Wheeling Out Monologue Monkeys For 2009 Upfronts

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Today in Hollywood Ink: NBC goes full-upfrontal ... Sundance loses another ... Showtime has fear of series-pickup commitment ...

· The upfronts--those once sumptuous and courtly display of network might for an appreciative crowd of Proctor and Gamble ad dept. types--may have gone the way of ABC's Cavemen. Which isn't to say they're completely extinct: NBC has firmed up its own plans, having scheduled a "comedy showcase" for the night of May 19th at New York's The Town Hall. Having adopted a controversial all-talk-show-host format for the 2009-10 season, the network will trot out its roster of varyingly hilarious graveyard shift monologists, with Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon scheduled for appearances. A rumor that Jerry Seinfeld might even make an appearance--presumably to plug his high-concept, Denis Leary-vehicle-inspired reality show The Marriage Ref -- suggests NBC's youngest and most tender desk veal won't be the least likable celebrity presence in attendance that night. [Variety]

· Speaking of cavemen, Year One--the flawlessly pedigreed fat-dudes-in-animal-skins comedy from Harold Ramis and Judd Apatow--has made the necessary cuts to earn a PG-13, as outlined by the MPAA standards board. ("Note 17b: You can club the yak to death, just make sure the animals genitals are never too grossly on display...") [THR]

· In the span of one week, Showtime has passed on every one of their pilots: first the Leisha Hailey-staring The L Word spinoff, then Matthew Perry vehicle The End of Steve, and now Ronna & Beverly, a comedy from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan based on Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo's Jewish housewife characters. That leaves Tim Robbins' Possible Side Effects--featuring Ellen Burstyn presiding over a dysfunctional drug company dynasty-the last pilot standing. We have a good feeling about that one, if for nothing more than the The United States of Tara crossover potential. [THR]

· Following the defection of fest director Geoff Gilmore to head up the Tribeca Fest, Sundance has lost another key figure--**Ken Brecher**, executive director of the Sundance Institute for the last 14 years. "I could not be more confident that the institute is now poised for the next phase of its innovative work in supporting independent artists," he said in a statement. Brecher had a talent for finding big corporate money to feed their $26 million annual budget. It's a daunting task for any successor, and we don't envy the guy who has to announce the exciting lineup for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, brought to you by key sponsors Delcolax and Living Essentials' 5-Hour Energy Shots. [THR]

· Budget restraints may have meant replacing the annual Idol Gives Back telethon with a group of courageously "challenged" contestants coping with a wide variety of developmental deficiencies (sight, living spouses, singing ability, etc...). But that seemed to make little difference to the approximately 22.4 million who tuned in to watch Scott McIntyre sing for his life, only to be told by Simon Cowell that despite putting on quite a debate for the cameras (they were actually discussing their Koo Koo Roo orders), the forgone conclusion was that he comes across like something out a 1978 Up with People high school gymnasium tour, and that his Idol journey would end that night. [Variety]



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