TV NotebookSilverman In, Reilly Out At NBC UABC's Steve McPherson: The treatment (Reilly) has gotten has been disgusting. He brought back quality, class and success over there and put his balls on the line better than anyone in the business, myself included.
Ben Grossman & Jim Benson Broadcasting & Cable
After a wild weekend of rumors, NBC Universal has confirmed that producer Ben Silverman will move into the co-chairman role with Marc Graboff and that Kevin Reilly will be exiting as NBC Entertainment president.
The network had to rush the announcement after word of the talks first surfaced on Friday.
Advertisers are reluctant to begin upfront negotiations, and spend tens of millions of dollars with the network, until NBC resolves its management issues and advertisers are confident they are buying into a schedule that the network buys into itself.
NBCU extended by two years a deal it made earlier this year with Silverman, founder and CEO of Reveille, that gave both the broadcast network and the company's cable properties a first look at all scripted and unscripted projects. The announcement did not address whether NBCU will buy the company, as had been speculated.
In their new roles, NBCU said that Silverman and Graboff will have responsibility for all aspects of the network's prime time, late-night and daytime programming, and will also oversee the entertainment division's digital efforts, including NBC.com. They will also oversee the network and television studio's creative, marketing, business, and financial components, though it is widely believed that Silverman will primarily handle creative and Graboff the other functions.
The announcement makes no mention of what will happen to No.2 entertainment executive Katherine Pope or any formal plans to fold NBC Universal Television Studios (NUTS) into the entertainment division, leading to speculation that there could be more announcements to come.
Also, there is no word about who Silverman will choose as an entertainment president, or if that role will be filled at all.
We are extremely thrilled to have Ben on board, NBCU President-CEO Jeff Zucker said in a statement. After years of working with him as an agent, a supplier to both our broadcast and cable networks, and as a producer, we've come to know him as one of the most savvy and successful executives in the industry I always thought this was the right job for Ben. This new role will give him the opportunity to redefine our programming, our relationship with advertisers, and our ongoing commitment to the new digital frontier.
Zucker also addressed Graboff's continued but diminished role. Marc is a proven and respected executive whose wealth of expertise in so many divisions will continue to be a huge plus in this realignment, Zucker said. He has superb business acumen and an instinctive grasp of our expanding company and its multiple platforms, and is positioning NBC for the future. Marc and Ben have a long and successful history of working together that gives us tremendous confidence in the strength of this new partnership.
NBC and Reilly, who has served as president of NBC Entertainment for the past three years, and recently signed a three-year renewal, have mutually agreed to end their relationship, the announcement said.
Kevin has given us some incredibly important, high-quality new series in recent years and his legacy will be evident for many years to come in NBC's prime time schedule, said Zucker. I want to thank him for all of his efforts on behalf of the company.
NBC credits Silverman, a former agent who now produces NBC's The Office, ABC's Ugly Betty and reality series such as NBC's The Biggest Loser, for bringing Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Big Brother to the U.S.
Said Graboff, who many industry insiders say instigated the moves to get rid of Reilly and bring in Silverman: I am very excited about the opportunity to partner with someone like Ben. He's a brilliant producer and a true out-of-the-box thinker who wants to change the business model of this industry. We complement each other very well and together will be a strong team to guide NBC through a period of enormous change and opportunity.
Added Silverman: I grew up watching NBC and have always loved this network. So this is a dream job for me. And what a thrill it is to be partnering with Marc. We have had great success across the table from each other and I can't wait to be working side-by-side with him to help shape NBC's future during this time of incredible excitement and unprecedented change.
Graboff, who was named president, NBC Universal Television, West Coast, in Februarytaking on oversight of creative then--will also continue to run NBCU Domestic TV Distribution. Barry Wallach, President, Domestic TV Distribution, will continue to report to Graboff.
Studio chief Angela Bromstad, who has basically been out of her job all year, is still expected to remain with the organization in some way, most likely focusing on the international production side of the business should she accept a role in London.
Pope, meanwhile, had become frustrated and basically resigned last week after learning NBC U was not going to merge its network and studio, a strategy toward which it had been leaning. Pope was in line to assume a larger role on the heels of that shift.
Now it remains to be seen whether the highly-regarded executive will remain in the fold, and if so what role she would assume. With Silverman in a position higher up the food chain than that formerly held by Reilly, there would seem to be room for an executive both at the network or studio oversight position, or perhaps one overseeing both.
Given the moving pieces, other names that have popped up as possible candidates to move to the network and/or studio were former Fox entertainment chief and current producer Gail Berman and USA/Sci Fi head Bonnie Hammer, though now it seems both will remain in their current roles.
While Silverman turned down NBC's initial overture, the two sides continued discussions over the weekend regarding both NBC hiring Silverman and acquiring his Reveille production outfit.
There were initial doubts about whether Silverman, who is behind shows such as NBC's The Office and The Biggest Loser and ABC's Ugly Betty, would step away from his lucrative production shingle to take the job.
His company, though, is said to have been in play for some time now.
Silverman's discussions with NBC U are involving both his potential role as well as some degree of ownership of Reveille, which he has been shopping.
As for Reilly, he recently signed a new three-year deal with the network, which will buy out the highly-regarded programmer once terms are finalized.
While Reilly and the network came under fire after the upfronts, his supporters note he has been forced to operate amidst drastic budget cuts under the NBC 2.0 umbrella.
For instance, NBC only ordered comedy pilots from its own studio.
Despite that environment and ongoing questions about his job security before and after his recent deal, Reilly developed the lone game-changing ratings hit of last season, Heroes, and has championed critically-acclaimed fare including The Office, 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights.
With that, he had plenty of backers singing his praises over the weekend, including friend and rival Steve McPherson, head of ABC Entertainment.
The treatment he has gotten has been disgusting, McPherson says of Reilly's time at NBC U.He brought back quality, class and success over there and put his balls on the line better than anyone in the business, myself included. I don't know what more you can ask for.
McPherson says that Reilly is taking the blame for problems that went beyond his control.
How many scapegoats do you get, is there a limit on scapegoats? he says.To do these jobs effectively, you have to be given the support and control for good or bad. It certainly never appeared he got that.
Should Reilly decide to go back to work anytime soon, industry chatter is already pointing to HBO as a good fit in the wake of the departure of Chris Albrecht.
Reilly's tastes are considered a good match for the cable outfit, as many speculated prior to his recent re-upping with NBC that HBO would be a better place for him anyway, as it desperately needs to replace hits such as The Sopranos.http://www.broadcastingcable.com/ind...leID=CA6446798