Paley Dialogues

A Conversation with Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment

Oct 27, 2016
6:15 – 8:00 PM
Los Angeles

One of the most respected executives working in media today, Robert Greenblatt is responsible for all aspects of primetime, late night and scripted daytime programming for the network. In addition, he oversees Universal Television, which currently produces nearly 20 scripted series as well as late-night and reality programs for a variety of network, cable and digital platforms. Greenblatt will discuss the new fall television season, NBC’s groundbreaking live event programming and more.

Robert Greenblatt
Chairman, NBC Entertainment

Robert Greenblatt joined NBCUniversal in January 2011 as Chairman, NBC Entertainment and reports to NBCU Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke. In this role, Greenblatt is responsible for all aspects of primetime, late night and scripted daytime programming for the network, including business affairs, marketing, communications, scheduling, West Coast research and digital operations.

In addition, Greenblatt oversees Universal Television and the newly formed Universal Television Alternative Studios.  Universal Television is one of the largest and most successful television production companies in the United States, currently producing nearly 20 scripted series as well as late-night and reality programs for a variety of network, cable and digital platforms. 

Also under Greenblatt’s purview is Universal Stage Productions, which produces hit theatrical properties "Wicked" and "Billy Elliot the Musical." Universal Stage Production’s latest musical, “Holiday Inn,” is set to open on Broadway in October at the Studio 54 theatre. Under Greenblatt's leadership, NBC has risen to the top of the television industry after a decade in last place, winning the 52-week seasons for 2013-14, 2014-15 and (projected) 2015-16 in primetime's key demographic of adults 18-49.  This is NBC’s first three season-long wins since 2003-04. NBC has won four consecutive November sweeps and five consecutive summers in adults 18-49. In the 2015-16 season NBC launched five of the season’s top 10 new series in adults 18-49, as well as four of the top eight in total viewers.  Among NBC’s new hit series from 2015-16 are “Little Big Shots,” “Blindspot,” “Shades of Blue” and “Chicago Med.”

A Golden Globe Award-winning television producer (“Six Feet Under”) and Tony Award-winning Broadway producer (“A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder”), Greenblatt has led NBC to be at the forefront of live television events. He broke ground three years ago with the broadcast of NBC’s musical “The Sound of Music Live!,” which attracted 21 million viewers and has become a yearly tradition that is now being replicated by other networks. NBC presented “The Wiz Live!” in 2015 and has “Hairspray Live!” on tap for December as well as a live production of Aaron Sorkin’s play “A Few Good Men” to air in 2017.
Greenblatt’s relationship with Dolly Parton led to him producing the Tony-nominated Broadway hit “9 to 5: The Musical” with a score by Parton, as well as NBC’s broadcast of her telefilm “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.” The TV movie garnered an audience of 16 million, making it the most-watched film on broadcast or cable in nearly seven years, and will be followed by the sequel “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” later this year.

Prior to NBC, Greenblatt was President of Entertainment for Showtime Networks, Inc., where he supervised a slate of original programming that dramatically altered the Showtime brand and re-positioned the company as a leader in premium cable television. Over his seven-year tenure, the audience subscription base increased 52% – to a then-record high of 19 million subscribers in 2010 – and profitability more than doubled.

At Showtime, he was responsible for such hits as "Weeds," "Dexter," "Shameless," "The Borgias," "Episodes," "Nurse Jackie," "The Tudors," "Californication," "United States of Tara," "The Big C," "This American Life" and "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union," among others. These shows and their actors were honored with multiple Golden Globe, Emmy, AFI, SAG, DGA, PGA, WGA and Peabody Awards; and in 2010 alone, they collectively garnered a record-breaking number of both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for the network.
Prior to Showtime, Greenblatt was an award-winning producer of over a dozen series on various networks. The highlight of those was "Six Feet Under," for which he was awarded the 2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Drama Series. It also garnered dozens of Emmy nominations, including four for Outstanding Drama Series, and it won the 2003 Producers Guild Award, three GLAAD Media Awards and the George Foster Peabody Award. He also produced two Emmy-nominated miniseries: "Elvis" for CBS (starring Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Gregory Nava's "American Family" for PBS.

Greenblatt began his television career at the Fox Broadcasting Company where he ran primetime programming  from 1992-97 and developed such memorable shows as the original "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Melrose Place," "The X-Files," "Party of Five," "Ally McBeal" and "King of the Hill," in addition to the pilots for "The Sopranos" and "Dawson's Creek."

In 2011, he received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award from GLAAD, and in 2016 Greenblatt was presented with The Actors Fund Medal of Honor. Greenblatt is a member of the Broadway League of Theatrical Producers, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and the Producers Guild of America.

Moderated By:

Jess Cagle
Editor in Chief, People

Jess Cagle is Editor in Chief of People and Editorial Director of Time Inc.’s Celebrity, Entertainment and Style Group, which includes People, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, StyleWatch, People en Espanol, Essence, xoJane, xoVain, and the recently launched INSTANT, the mobile-first, all-video site featuring the most influential stars on social media. The nine brands that Cagle oversees reach a combined total audience of more than 150 million consumers (source: MPA 360 June 2016).

For the past two and a half years, Cagle has served as Editorial Director of People and Entertainment Weekly, overseeing editorial content on the brands’ print and digital platforms.  Since he took the helm in 2014, both brands have seen dramatic audience growth, due to the development of television programs, increased digital content, new consumer events, and video production.  In 2015, People and Entertainment Weekly joined forces to create the People/Entertainment Weekly Network, which is No. 1 in the entertainment news category, surpassing TMZ and E! Online (source: comScore Multiplatform Report).
As Editor in Chief of People, Cagle remains focused day-to-day on this iconic brand, which was ranked Hottest Celebrity/Entertainment Magazine for three consecutive years by Adweek’s Hot List, and remains the world’s most popular celebrity weekly.  In 2015, the magazine’s newsstand market share increased to over 34 percent — People’s greatest share since 2003 and by far the largest in its category (source: MagNet).  Since Feb. 2014, unique visitors to are up 33 percent; video streams are up 514 percent, search referrals are up 49 percent, and social referrals are up 209 percent (source: Feb-14 vs. July-16 Omniture).
While Cagle has reinforced People’s position as the most trusted source for celebrity news and exclusives on all platforms, he has also increased the brand’s unparalleled coverage of human interest and service content, which encompasses style, beauty, food, home, pets, and more. Video initiatives include People Now, a daily live half-hour show sponsored by Toyota that produced 67 million streams in 2015 (source: Omniture); a two-hour live-stream pre-show from the 2016 Oscar red carpet; and The Jess Cagle Interview, a video series for People and EW digital platforms featuring in-depth interviews with major stars. He has integrated the People and EW print and digital editorial teams to create the magazine industry’s most unique and formidable cross-platform news gathering operation.
From 2009-2014 Cagle served as Editor in Chief of Entertainment Weekly, where he increased EW's audience and presence in Hollywood, transformed into a 24/7 breaking news site, and launched the Entertainment Weekly Radio channel on SiriusXM.  Since 2009, Cagle has been a regular co-host on ABC’s Academy Awards red-carpet pre-show, and makes frequent appearances on Good Morning America, Today, and many other entertainment news programs.
Cagle joined Time Inc. in 1987 as a reporter for People.  In 1990, he helped launch Entertainment Weekly, where he played a key role in defining the brand's voice.  He covered the entertainment industry as a Senior Editor at Time from 2000 to 2002, and returned to People to oversee showbiz coverage from 2002 to 2009.  In the course of his career, Cagle has interviewed every major celebrity, including Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Paul Newman, and Barack and Michelle Obama.
Jess Cagle lives in New York City.  He was born in Texas and is a graduate of Baylor University.

This event is exclusive to Media Council members and other invited guests. To find out more about Media Council membership, contact

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