Here are the major highlights from NBC’s just-concluded executive session at Winter Press Tour that don’t involve the words Leno or O’Brien (although if those are the words you’re looking for, click here)…
* Howie Mandel will replace David Hasselhoff on America’s Got Talent.
* Among the pilots NBC has ordered (some of this you already know): A remake of the UK crime drama Prime Suspect, a Rockford Files update from House creator David Shore, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action procedural Chase, the David E. Kelley legal drama Kindreds, and the romantic comedy Love Bites from Sex and the City writer Cindy Chupack.
* SPOILER ALERT: Pam and Jim will experience the birth of their baby in a special two-part Office airing March 4 and 11. “It’s big,” exec producer Greg Daniels later told me. “Part of the concept of it is that Pam is trying to hold the baby in until after midnight so she can get the maximum time in the hospital because of the HMO. So she’s trying to keep the baby in while she’s at work. She pushes it maybe too far.” Kathy Bates, meanwhile, will join the cast as the CEO of the company that buys Dunder Mifflin. Her multi-episode arc kicks off Feb. 4. “She’s a larger-than-life character,” explained Daniels. “She has two giant Great Danes that accompany her when she first visits the office.”
* Jon Hamm reprises his 30 Rock role as Liz’s doctor ex on Feb. 11.
* NBC is in talks with Dick Wolf on a new Law & Order set in Los Angeles. The mothership, meanwhile, is expected back next fall.
* No decision has been made on a Heroes renewal, but NBC prez Angela Bromstad says she’s pleased with the show’s ratings performance at 8 and series creator Tim Kring is “pitching out his view of the next season.”
* Although Bromstad “personally loved” Southland, she has no regrets canceling it. “It probably found a better home on cable,” she said.
* Contractually, the new season of Friday Night Lights can start airing on NBC as early as March.