Cheap Weekend Update Specials to Fill Space on NBC This Fall

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Photo: Courtesy of NBC

Well it worked last year! Following NBC's bold decision to cede five weekly prime-time hours to Jay Leno comes the hilarious news that the idealess network will also be filling space this fall with half-hour Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update specials, just like the ones that carried it through the autumn of 2008 (except this time without the benefit of a concurrent presidential election to make people interested). The Peacock will tell advertisers today that it's ordering between six and thirteen cheap-to-produce prime-time Updates, most likely for Thursday nights, on which Tina Fey or Amy Poehler may be asked to guest, even if Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton haven't been in the news for months.

This likely signals the end of My Name Is Earl on NBC's Thursday schedule (Fox may pick it up), as the cost to license the show from its producer (20th Century Fox) doubles at the end of this season. (Parks and Recreation and Southland have already been picked up for thirteen episodes, presumably because they're both inexpensive and the network has nothing else with which to fill holes on Thursdays.)

This also means that — with Weekend Update, Leno, Conan, Fallon, and Carson Daly — NBC's Thursday lineup will now feature four hours of people telling jokes while sitting behind desks (five hours if you count The Office and PaR, on which most of the action also takes place behind desks). Did Ben Silverman do a product-placement deal with Ikea, or what?

NBC's "Weekend Update" to Expand [NYT]