I have more information since my Friday posting which roiled NBC execs at 30 Rock and in Burbank. The latest is NBC Entertainment Prez Kevin Reilly has been fired. Yes, it’s finally over for him. And everything’s been resolved regarding that new contract Jeff Zucker gave him back in March. (My understanding is that when I reported that Reilly was being replaced, he didn’t know anything about it. That Zucks!) Meanwhile, NBC has clinched 36-year-old prolific producer Ben Silverman as its new showbiz honcho. He’ll have a bigger title than Reilly did. It’ll be NBC Universal West Coast chairman or something (similar to that enjoyed by the network’s last Hail Mary hire, Don Ohlmeyer, back in the ’90s). At the same time, the very capable Marc Graboff will be promoted to still run the business side of things. I’m told there’s even the possibility that Graboff and Silverman will become co-chairs. This would nicely solve the problem of whether Silverman had the right stuff to manage the network’s showbiz division solo. Hollywood denizens will breathe a sigh of relief, knowing what they do about Ben’s high-flyin’ lifestyle. (Cool piece of trivia: both guys spent time as agents, Ben at William Morris and Marc at CAA).
The only last-minute monkey wrench in the NBC-Silverman negotiations could be Barry Diller, who owns a piece of Silverman’s production company. But I heard that Ben’s deal was more or less done, so Diller doesn’t seem to have been a factor. I can tell you that Jeff Zucker et al were none too pleased I let the cat out of the bag Friday that Reilly had been fired, or that Silverman was in final negotiations with the network to replace him with a bigger title. Because Zucker had to speed things up. NBC is expected to announce all these changes on Tuesday. So there you have it. To refresh your memory, Silverman is responsible for NBC’s version of the British series The Office which has been one of the few bonafide hits for the embattled network. He also brought The Biggest Loser to NBC and adapted the Latino telenova into the major ratings grabber Ugly Betty for ABC. But given how successful Silverman’s nearly 6-year-old company Reveille has been creating, producing or packaging an eclectic mix of scripted and reality programs, spread across broadcast networks, cable networks and the Internet, it costs NBC a fortune to bring Ben on board. Then again, the network is in 4th place and its 2007-2008 primetime sked sucks. My previous: NBC SHAKE-UP! Ben Silverman Replacing Kevin Reilly? Katherine Pope Asking Exit?
2ND UPDATE: The New York Times and Los Angeles Times finally write about this for Monday, but hedge with half-baked stories three full days after my first scoop. Quick, someone tell the papers that Reilly was axed last week! The NYT‘s Monday story is nearly identical to what I wrote regarding Reilly, Silverman, Gaspin, Hammer and Pope back on Friday. Also, shame on Variety for first knocking down my story hours after I posted Friday — and making untrue claims about my website and my sources in the process – then rewriting later in the day only to validate what I reported. But kudos to the Wall Street Journal, which I just heard is crediting me Tuesday. That’s classy.
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