UPDATE: NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour on Monday that "Up All Night," a new sitcom that he's hoping can establish a comedy hour on Wednesday nights, will be reworked to give co-star Maya Rudolph a meatier role.
Usually it's not a great sign when a network tinkers with a new show after its pilot episode has already been screened by the press. But given the recent success of Rudolph's "Bridesmaids," altering the big-stakes sitcom, in which Christina Applegate and Will Arnett play a hard-partying married couple who have an unplanned child, doesn't sound like the dumbest plan in the history of television.
In the original pilot, Rudolph played the owner of a public relations agency that Applegate's character helped run and was mostly used as cosmetic comic relief. Rudolph will now play a talk-show host, with Applegate's character acting as the show's producer.
"We felt the PR idea [had been done] and that this would be a better showcase for her," said Greenblatt.
At the panel discussion later Monday, show creator Emily Spivey clarified that Rudolph's character will be an Oprah Winfrey–like daytime talk-show host whose chaotic personal life doesn't match her serene on-screen persona. The changes, she said, were made primarily because Rudolph had done a popular impersonation of Winfrey during her stint on "Saturday Night Live," in sketches written with Spivey.
Rudolph was asked by a reporter whether Oprah had ever weighed in on the impression she did on "Saturday Night Live." Rudolph said, "She actually had me come to the show. She was very happy because I was the first woman to play her and I was thin."
Added Spivey: "She thanked us for not using a fat suit."
Executive producer Lorne Michaels added that the changes to Rudolph and Applegate's characters "won't change the dynamic much."
Parts of the pilot episode will have to go through a three-day re-shoot to encorporate the changes, and we're eager to see what comes of that.