Longing for Paulie Walnuts and Paula Abdul

April 7, 2008

sopranos-award.jpgNBC may be in danger of landing in fourth place (again) in the prime-time ratings war between the major networks, but it wasn’t always that way.

Remember when NBC dominated, thanks to hits like “Friends,” “Frasier,” “The West Wing,” and “Seinfeld”? Even now, stuck in a ratings slump, NBC has some of the most talked-about shows on the air. Think “Heroes,” “The Office,” and “30 Rock.”

NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker has high hopes that the 2008-09 lineup, unveiled last week, will mark a return for the network and told us during an interview that so far it’s getting a strong reception from advertisers.

But that doesn’t mean — of course — that NBC has every show it wants or ever wanted. After our interview, Zucker spoke to an advertising industry conference sponsored by the IAA, where he was asked what shows he wish he could have had on NBC. Or, more precisely, he was asked about shows other than “American Idol.”

“It’s hard to put ‘American Idol’ aside, given that it’s the single most important show in TV for maybe the last 25 years,” he said. “It’s hard to get beyond that one.”

But another show did come to mind, Zucker said. “The Sopranos.”

“I wish we had the chance to see what the Sopranos would have become on network TV.”

It certainly would have kept the folks over at the FCC busy.

(Photo: Reuters / The Sopranos actor James Gandolfini accepts award at the 14th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Jan. 2008)

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