'Parenthood' team answers: Is NBC supportive enough?

Parenthood star Craig T. Nelson and showrunner Jason Katims were both asked about Nelson’s comments last March knocking NBC for — he says — not publicizing the series enough.

Appearing on a panel Saturday promoting the show’s upcoming fifth season at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills, Nelson didn’t exactly back away from his previous comments. “You get frustrated when [the series] doesn’t seem to be being honored in the way you feel it should be,” he said. “I felt I had an obligation as the patriarch of this dysfunctional family to speak out … I believe in the show and I spoke out about it. I’m proud of that.”

For Katims, the topic was more perilous.

As a writer-producer, he’s expected to play ball and defend the network. But he also can’t appear to contradict his star (and, privately, probably agrees with him). Katims began by pointing out Parenthood was selected by NBC to appear at this very event (other fall returning shows, such as Revolution, were not).

“It’s [indicative] of the passion the network does feel for the show,” Katims said. “When you do your show, this is the thing that we’re doing, we’re spending all our time on it … of course we want to see it’s getting out there to as many people as possible. I feel a passion from the network about it. I know [NBC entertainment chairman] Bob Greenblatt, from the day he came onto the [network], has been an enormous supporter of the show.” Katims also pointed to Parenthood‘s new Thursday night time slot and full-season order. “We’ve had our struggles and frustrations along the way, but I feel positive and supported right now.”

Parenthood felt like it was headed for the door last season with its shortened 16-episode order. But the show’s ratings were relatively strong, while a dramatic cancer storyline for co-star Monica Potter won raves and generated heavy fan interest.

Ironically, its success last season while NBC poured resources into promoting other shows arguably takes the wind out of Nelson’s complaint: As an established show with a pre-existing fan base, Parenthood‘s own creative team has more power to drive tune-in by making great TV than NBC’s marketing department has by reminding viewers that the show still exists.

Earlier in the day, Greenblatt praised Parenthood as one of TV’s best shows, though he also said he wished the series received more Emmys and press buzz.

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