May 29, 2011
Categories: Love Bites , News , Television0 Comments

NBC has had a tangled relationship with “Love Bites,” its new show about sex, dating and marriage. A year ago, NBC showed advertisers a 12-minute clip of the series and anointed it the centerpiece of the network’s fall 2010 schedule. “Love Bites” was then pushed back to midseason. In January Comcast Corp. acquired control of NBC Universal and new managers temporarily shelved the series. After months of reworking, eight episodes of “Love Bites” will air starting June 2.

Originally created by “Sex and the City” writer Cindy Chupack, “Love Bites” was designed as a three-part “anthology” series in which each episode contained three self-contained vignettes of romantic quandaries. Former NBC entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin championed it; NBC’s Universal Media Studios spent heavily on shooting on location and on stars like Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”). Then Ms. Chupack left the show for personal reasons. Executive producers Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally (“Will & Grace,” “Ugly Betty”) were signed on to run the show and write storylines with more connected vignettes. In an interview, the writers said they had to redo the pilot multiple times. Vernon Sanders, an executive vice president at NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, denied this account. In a subsequent interview Ms. Poust said that only a portion of the pilot had been rewritten to accommodate the fact that Ms. Newton had become pregnant. “We probably wrote seven versions of the pilot,” Mr. Kinnally says.

Mr. Gaspin later left NBC. Production was almost finished when newly-named entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt took over and felt the anthology format would be tough to sustain long term, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Sanders says “Love Bites” is debuting in the summer because there’s less competition and that Mr. Greenblatt is on board. “Bob has said if we have success we can absolutely do it again,” he says. Not since the 1970s series “Love, American Style” has network TV attempted a romantic anthology. With no ongoing storylines or regular characters to build on, “Love Bites” writers sometimes pulled words randomly out of a hat (“Rottweiler, shadow,” in one case) and tried to use them as a springboard for storylines.

“We were that desperate,” Mr. Kinnally said.

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