Monday, July 27, 2009

YOU WON'T HAVE BEN SILVERMAN TO KICK AROUND ANY MORE: Ben Silverman, who was recently and very publicly not fired as head of NBC, has now been fired as head of NBC. Or maybe not fired, if you believe that he voluntarily left his job as head of a network to run a new-media (isn't that just Internet) production company for Barry Diller. Silverman got a lot of grief because he basically seemed like the kind of guy who would (and actually did) appear on Entourage -- indulged, insubstantial, fratty. As I've said before though, he came through for the things I cared about. He created and nurtured The Office, he supported 30 Rock, and he bent over backward to find creative ways to save Friday Night Lights and Chuck. If those last three shows suffered a little from what seemed to be corporate-driven imperatives (stunt casting; tonal changes and short seasons; rampant product placement), it just showed that Silverman was not using executive beneficence to save them, but instead was trying to figure out ways to make them self-sustaining, so that they didn't need his help. He was teaching them how to fish, as it were. I may not want to hang out with Ben Silverman, but I liked having him running a network.

Now a new guy will inherit those shows. It's Jeff Gaspin, head of NBC's cable entertainment group. I don't know what to make of Gaspin. On the one hand, I take it (though I'm lazy and haven't researched to confirm) he's the guy who greenlit the Bravo brand that Phil criticized below -- the Real Housewives franchise, NYC Prep, etc. -- and pioneered the change of "SciFi" to "Syfy." To be fair, though, under the same assumption he also would have been responsible for a number of shows that I've never watched but that I understand others love, including Battlestar Galactica and all of the USA Network fare. So: nervous but not hopeless? Is that the right stance to take?

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