Under its former executive vice-president David Janollari, MTV moved into ever-more sexually explicit programming – programming the producer apparently thought was perfect for teens. And now, Janollari will be bringing the same sensibility to the NBC broadcast network.
During his time at MTV, Janollari was the moving force behind several sexually gratuitous shows, including: The Hard Times of RJ Berger, an entire series about the size of a teenage boy’s genitals (the show also featured scenes like a teenage girl’s menstrual blood splattering a boy’s face); I Just Want My Pants Back, about young twentysomethings having sex in refrigerators and attending partner-swapping sex parties; The Inbetweeners, a group of sex-crazed, foul-mouthed, incompetent teenage boys; and, worst of all, Skins, a grotesque program which portrayed teens as brainless, drug-addicted sex fiends. So explicit was Skins that concerns were raised it might violate child pornography laws. Every series named above was cancelled; and last year, Janollari’s “option was not renewed” (polite Hollywoodese for you-know-what), and he left the network in disgrace.
Possibly even more disturbing than the shows he put on was Janollari’s philosophy of programming a network for teens. Janollari openly stated that “We sell 12-34, but our real core demo is really 12-24; that’s who lives and breathes all of our shows.” Yet look at the programming choices he made. Janollari even went so far as to claim that “[Skins is] the perfect scripted show for the millennial generation!” If the above shows are examples of what Janollari thought was appropriate for 12-year-olds he himself said were his target audience, one can only wonder what he has in store for viewers at NBC.
It appears there is no limit to NBC’s ability to shoot itself in the foot. First, under former CEO Jeff Zucker, the network slid from first to fourth place in the ratings – a failure highlighted by the Conan O’Brien/Tonight Show/Jay Leno Show debacle. According to the New York Post, when Comcast bought the network, they paid Zucker over $30 million just to leave.
Then came Robert Greenblatt. After creating Weeds (about a housewife who grows and sells marijuana), Nurse Jackie (a tantrum-ridden, drug-addicted nurse), and Dexter (a “charming,” psychotic serial killer) for premium cable network Showtime, Greenblatt was hired by Comcast-NBCUniversal. His first move was trying to foist The Playboy Club on America – a show which portrayed women being exploited by a pornography empire as somehow empowering. The PTC is proud that, by urging advertisers and viewers to make their feelings known, we had a hand in the failure of this show, with The Playboy Club being cancelled after three episodes. However, Greenblatt has gone on to push other extreme content into every living room – including a TV show about serial killer Hannibal Lecter. (Hannibal is even more gruesome than Dexter – he not only murders people, he cooks and eats them.) Unsurprisingly, under Greenblatt NBC’s ratings have fallen even further, with Spanish-language-only network Telemundo drawing more viewers on occasion.
And now, Greenblatt is welcoming his old Showtime crony David Janollari to NBC – a man with a record of failure almost as impressive as Greenblatt’s. Nor was Janollari’s fiscal judgment any better than his judgment of appropriate programming for young audiences; he stubbornly kept Skins on the air to the end of its initial run, despite the desertion of every major sponsor at an estimated cost to MTV of $2 million per episode.
Janollari sounds exactly like what the last-place-in-the-ratings NBC network needs.