On a recent post-NFL season Monday night, 7.3 million people watched a remake of Hawaii 5-0. Another 6.7 million watched Castle, a crime procedural that’s safely avoided buzz for four seasons. A crowd less than half that size, 3.2 million, watched an American furniture manufacturer tearfully repent for outsourcing the family business, met a real-life moon colonist, and saw a chimpanzee flip through a children’s book. “They like to look at the pictures,” the voiceover explained.
They had landed on the three-month-old newsmagazine Rock Center, NBC’s prime time bid to recapture an audience for TV news by offering a looser format in which to showcase Brian Williams’s formidable charisma. Mr. Williams’s sensibility is so deeply ingrained in the programming that Rock Center executive producer Rome Hartman likes to say that, when it’s working, it feels like “Brian’s playlist.” Read More