BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - NBC will air a pair of "Saturday Night Live" prime-time specials spoofing the fall election, and it's leaving the door open for cult-favorite comedy "Community" to continue beyond next season's abbreviated run.
The live "SNL" specials, which follow an election-cycle tradition for the satire series, will air Sept. 20 and 27, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt announced Tuesday.
He also said that "Community," which hovered near cancellation before winning a reprieve for 13 weeks, could live even longer if it proves itself in its new Friday slot.
"I would love nothing more" than for "Community" to continue, Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Association conference.
Greenblatt made it clear NBC's short-term goals are modest as he referred to his network as "in transition" and "in a turnaround."
"We've very happy that we're No. 3 in adults 18-to-49," he said. "NBC hasn't finished better than No. 4 since the 2003-04 season."
While voicing hope for the quirky "Community," NBC is broadening its approach to sitcoms in an effort to expand beyond the boutique approach that wins acclaim and awards, but not time periods.
One of NBC's new sitcoms, "Animal Practice," centers on a veterinarian who likes animals better than people and whose best friend is a monkey.
Another, "Go On," stars Matthew Perry as a sportscaster who joins a support group after the death of his wife.
NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke said "Go On" will "make you laugh, make you cry," with "tons of heart."
Meanwhile, she said, creative teams at veteran NBC comedies "are trying to embrace the idea of staying true to what their shows are ... but opening up things a little bit and trying to be a little more inclusive." She shared no examples.
"I don't want to say anything negative about what ('30 Rock' creator) Tina Fey does, or `Parks and Rec,' or `The Office' -- they're great shows," said Greenblatt. But currently they tend to be "a little bit more narrow and more sophisticated than we might want for a real broad audience."
"We are in this sort of awkward stage of taking what's working at the network, and expand it out and build on that," said Salke.
Asked about the much-talked-about hiring of Howard Stern as a judge on "America's Got Talent" -- with a cross-country transfer of the show to accommodate the New York-based shock jock -- NBC alternative programming chief Paul Telegdy said the network was "thrilled" with Stern.
Looking beyond this season, Telegdy added, "We'd be delighted if Howard wants to come back."
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