• Skins Creator Coming to NBC

    by  • June 3, 2013 • Broadcast Decency • 2 Comments

    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.

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    About

    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    2 Responses to Skins Creator Coming to NBC

    1. brandon
      May 8, 2015 at 4:21 am

      David Janollari had no involvement with The Hard Times of RJ Burger, The Inbetweeners, or Skins. The only one he had involvement with was “I Just Want my Pants Back” for which he was a producer. I checked his IMDB page. Being executive vice president of a network does not mean you have direct involvement with every show. I have a friend who works at a TV network. Basically all someone in Janollari position does is; Approve shows, assist in making press for the show, sometimes dictates the direction of the story depending on the contract with the showrunner, and decides if a show is cancelled or renewed. Other than that, they are not the driving force of a show that moniker goes to the; Showrunners, Executive Producers, Producers, Directors, Screenwriters, and the cast. To get those names you can find them here.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1451387/
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1755893/
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1798695/

      Another interesting thing I noticed was that Inbetweeners, like Skins, has a British counterpart. Also like Skins Inbetweeners UK lasted for multiple seasons and it also had two movies, multiple books, and a reunion special. Why is it that the US versions of these shows failed but the UK versions didn’t? Even more ironic is that both British versions still air reruns on US television while the US versions don’t.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        May 11, 2015 at 10:20 am

        Brandon,

        The EVP has a lot of power. He may not have made every trivial decision about every show, but he was the one who chose to push MTV into scripted shows about sex. And, as with any industry, the person at the top is responsible for what gets put on the air.

        You say it yourself: an Executive VP is responsible for “approving shows, assisting in making press for the show, dictating the direction of the story (depending on the contract with the showrunner), and deciding if a show is cancelled or renewed.” Even more, an EVP is responsible for setting the tone and direction for the entire output of the network.

        It speaks volumes that under Janollari, MTV exploded with sex-themed scripted dramas…and that after two years of failure (and losing millions of dollars per episode on the American version of Skins) he was let go.
        And yet, after flushing MTV down the toilet, he’s hired to produce “religious” dramas for NBC…due to his friendship with NBC Chair Robert Greenblatt.

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