NBC Plans to Beef Up Development, Order More ‘Law & Order’

Network chief Angela Bromstad tells magazine NBC will produce its biggest crop of pilots since 2003

NBC Entertainment chief Angela Bromstad is promising to nearly double the network’s pilot roster next year — and has also vowed to renew the long-running "Law & Order" for a 21st season.

Bromstad, who’s declined most media requests in recent weeks, broke her silence to talk to BusinessWeek. In her interview, she was remarkably specific about NBC’s 2010-11 development plans, telling the magazine the network would produce 18 pilots this spring — the most since 2003, and nearly double last year’s tally of 11.

NBC will divide its development between 10 dramas and 8 half-hour comedies, the magazine quoted her as saying.

"We have so many holes that we have to essentially rebuild the schedule,” Bromstad said.

The magazine also reported that while NBC is dramatically expanding its development roster, costs for production won’t rise. It’s unclear how that will work, unless Bromstad was referring to re-investing the monies saved on "The Jay Leno Show" this season into development.

NBC has been telling agency sources and others it planned to beef up development since September, before Leno moved to 10 p.m.

The breadth of the network’s planned pilot production, however, will once again raise questions about whether NBC is preparing to cut back or kill primetime Jay. Bromstad, however, gave no indication that was in the offing, and even argued once again that not having to program 10 p.m. was a good thing for a rebuilding network such as NBC.

"Not having the additional five hours has certainly relieved some of the pressure," she said.

Bromstad said beefing up pilot production just made sense given NBC’s poor primetime performance.

“In success we became used to making fewer and fewer pilots,” Bromstad said. “We have to take more swings, take more shots creatively, and have more back-up.”

As for "Law & Order," Bromstad told the magazine the Dick Wolf series will be back for another round of episodes. That means the show will break "Gunsmoke’s" record to become the longest-running drama in primetime.

“I’m a ‘Law & Order’ junkie,” Bromstad told BusinessWeek. “I wouldn’t want to be responsible for not having ‘Law & Order’ break the record.”

NBC offices were closed for the New Year’s holiday.