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‘Blacklist’ On The Move

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By Rob Owen

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

(TNS)

PASADENA, Calif. — NBC’s James Spader drama “The Blacklist” airs an episode Sunday after “Super Bowl XLIX” — listings show an approximate 10:15 p.m. start time but because the actual start time will depend on how long the game runs, that’s likely to change; set your DVR to record earlier and later — and then moves to a new night and time: 9 p.m. Thursday starting next week.

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt acknowledged it’s a risky move for the show because NBC has had bad luck of late on Thursday, once an easy win for the network in its Must-See-TV comedy heyday.

“It’s a very desirable night for advertisers, and it’s a night leading to the weekend,” he said, referencing the value to movie studios of advertising new films opening Friday on Thursday night. “We think that while the move of ‘Blacklist’ is certainly risky, the only way to really reinvigorate that night is to jump start it with something like ‘The Blacklist.’”

Greenblatt pointed out other networks moved shows to Thursday to capitalize on advertiser demand for highly rated programs, including CBS’s move of “CSI” from Friday to Thursday after its stronger-than-expected premiere ratings in fall 2000 and Fox’s decision to program “The Simpsons” against “The Cosby Show” in 1990.

“I don’t expect necessarily there to be a larger audience for ‘The Blacklist’ on Thursdays at 9 versus Monday at 10, although that’s possible,” Greenblatt continued. “I just think we can completely reconfigure the night and hopefully build something for the future that lasts.”

In addition, Greenblatt said even when “The Blacklist” aired on Monday, most of its audience watched it another night using DVRs or on demand.

“I think on ‘The Blacklist’ it’s closer to 60 percent of the total audience that watches that show doesn’t watch it on Monday night at 10 anyway,” he said. “So the audience is going to shift the show and watch it when they want. Hopefully it will be a big enough live (ratings) number to help turn the tide on that night.”

‘SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED’

Two years after its first season aired, PBS’s “Shakespeare Uncovered” (9 and 10 tonight, PBS) returns with six new one-hour episodes that feature actors leading viewers through interviews with Shakespeare directors and scholars and showcasing key locations and clips from film and TV adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays.

Two episodes air each Friday for the next three weeks, beginning tonight with Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) hosting “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at 9 p.m. and Christopher Plummer as the “King Lear” guide at 10 p.m.

At a PBS press conference earlier this month, “Shakespeare Uncovered” producers said the show’s celebrity presenters are chosen for their connection to Shakespeare and interests in his plays. But the programs also strive to appeal to Shakespeare newcomers.

“They have to follow the narrative of the play because some people who watch these shows will never have the seen the play,” said series producer Richard Denton.

Some of the actors involved in the new season of “Shakespeare Uncovered” discussed how Shakespeare’s plays have survived and fielded questions about changing the time period in which they are set.

“I think Shakespeare needs to be heard,” said actor Joseph Fiennes (“Shakespeare in Love”), who hosts the “Romeo & Juliet” episode (10 p.m. Feb. 13). “It’s less about the visual. It’s more about the language. And each generation and each age, it survives because it’s reinterpreted by that society. So I think it’s irrelevant what costumes (are used) unless those costumes or that look brings a new interpretation, which then brings a new evolution and brings about the continued survival of Shakespeare.”

Actress Kim Cattrall (“Sex and the City”), who hosts the “Antony and Cleopatra” episode (9 p.m. Feb. 13), noted, “The Shakespearean audience would come to the theater to hear a play, didn’t they? They say, ‘We are going to hear a play,’ not ‘see a play.’ “

For actor David Harewood (“Homeland”), host of the “Othello” episode (10 p.m. Feb. 6), winning over new generations may involve some updating.

“Whatever gets particularly young kids engaged in Shakespeare I think is a great idea,” he said. “So if you need to modernize it, set it in a nightclub, anything that gets young kids engaged in the story, I’m all for that, really.”

Stephen Segaller, executive-in-charge for this WNET series, said the reaction to the first season of the series was overwhelmingly positive, especially among high school English teachers who have access to clips from episodes through PBSLearningMedia.org.

“One of the things about which we feel a real obligation is, having started, we better finish, and we are planning the third and probably final season of ‘Shakespeare Uncovered’ very shortly,” he said. “Because in the educational space much more than in television, these are going to be seen as pretty definitive accounts of what these plays are about and why they matter for a very long time. … And we feel that’s quite a responsibility and we want to follow through and not do every last play, but there’s another half dozen that we have in mind for next year.”

CHANNEL SURFING

HBO renewed freshman comedy “Togetherness” for a second season. … A TV series based on “The X-Men” franchise is in the early stages of development at Fox. … Nick Jonas (“Kingdom”) has joined the cast of Fox’s fall comedy-horror series “Scream Queens,” executive produced by Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story”). … VH1 is moving “Mob Wives” to 8 p.m. Wednesday, followed by “Hindsight” at 9 p.m. effective next week. … The final season of British drama “Foyle’s War” debuts on streaming service Acorn.tv next week with new episodes posting Monday, Feb. 9 and 16.

©2015 Rob Owen

Visit Rob Owen at www.post-gazette.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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‘Blacklist’ On The Move