PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NBC executives said Sunday they are conscious about the amount of violence they air in the wake of real-life tragedies like the Connecticut school shooting, but have made no changes in what has gone on the air or what is planned.
NBC isn’t a “shoot-’em-up” network, said network entertainment President Jennifer Salke.
The level of violence on television, in movies and video games has been looked at as a contributing factor — along with the availability of guns and a lack of mental health services — in incidents such as the Dec. 14 attack in a Newtown, Conn., school where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed.
Like many in Hollywood, NBC questioned a link between what is put on the air and what is happening in society.
“It weighs on all of us,” said NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. “Most of the people at this network have children and really care about the shows that we’re putting out there. It’s always something that’s been on our mind but this brought it to the forefront.”
NBC hasn’t needed to take any tangible steps like minimizing violence in its programming or deemphasizing guns, Salke said, because NBC didn’t have much violence on the air. It might be different “if we were the ‘shoot-’em-up’ network, she said.
She didn’t name such a network, but said violence might be an issue on a network that airs many crime procedural shows. That’s a staple of CBS’ lineup. Greenblatt, who was head of Showtime when the “Dexter” series about a serial killer was developed, said CBS’ “Criminal Minds” is “worse than ‘Dexter’ ever was.”
Within an hour after both executives spoke, NBC showed reporters at a news conference highlights of its show “Revolution” that included a swordfight, a standoff between two men with guns, a bloodied man, a building blown up with a flying body and a gunfight.
Later clips of the upcoming series “Deception” featured several shots of a bloodied, dead body.
NBC also is developing a drama, “Hannibal,” based on one of fiction’s most indelible serial killers, Hannibal Lecter. An airtime for the show hasn’t been scheduled, but it could come this spring or summer.
Salke said there is more violence in Fox’s upcoming drama “The Following,” also about a serial killer, than there will be in “Hannibal.” Much of the violence in the upcoming NBC show, created by former “Heroes” producer Bryan Fuller, is implied and not gratuitous.
“We respect the talent and like what he is doing, so we are standing behind him,” Salke said. She said there’s been a spate of programs about creepy killers because they’ve been such indelible characters.
Greenblatt said he wasn’t trying to be glib, but one of the best tonics for people upset about real-life violence is to watch an episode of NBC’s “Parenthood.” He said it’s a great example of a family that loves each other and grapples with many issues.
“Ultimately, I think you feel good at the end of the day,” he said.