Reilly Out, Silverman in as NBC Flails for a Focus
It seems to be all over but for the official press release.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, every major newspaper outlet reported on the scoop I first read on Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily blog Friday: that NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly (far left) was out, to be replaced by hotshot industry dealmaker Ben Silverman (not-so-far left) in an amped-up title.
You know times have changed when the head of NBC Entertainment gets ousted for the guy who first brought Who Wants to be a Millionaire to American shores.
Sure, NBC's new golden boy Silverman also helped develop shows diverse as the network's Office remake, Showtime's The Tudors and ABC's Ugly Betty. But the first time many of us in the TV industry heard of Silverman was as an agent at the William Morris Agency pulling together deals for this new type of programming called reality TV.
In short, he may be the first entertainment head at the network drawn from the ranks of reality TV producers. Taken together with the ascendancy of Andrea Wong, former head of alternative (meaning, reality) programming at ABC now heading to Lifetime as president and CEO, Silverman's advance may herald something new in TV programing.
Reilly's ouster also shows how slick former entertainment head Jeff Zucker has been about managing his rise at NBC. Despite leading network during the time it failed to find worthy successors for Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld, ER and Law & Order, he managed to get kicked upstairs just before the music stopped and the peacock network dropped to fourth place.
With talent like this in charge, it's just a matter of time for NBC.
UPDATE: The press release is finally here! Silverman shares the title of chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio with longtime NBC executive Marc Graboff, who is essentially expected to run the business side of the empire. Silverman also gets a two-year extension on his production company's first-look deal with the network -- meaning his Revielle company will be pitching ideas for new series to the network whose primtime schedule he controls.
Nice work if you can get it. But isn't it a little like putting a fox in charge of a chicken-breeding facility?