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McPherson to Silverman: ‘Be a Man’

July 25, 2007 7:00 PM

ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson criticized newly instated NBC Co-Chair Ben Silverman for shrugging off the firing of former NBC entertainment head Kevin Reilly.

When reporters questioned Silverman last week about Reilly’s ouster from NBC, Silverman said he only just arrived at the company and wasn’t involved in the decision. McPherson, who has been friends with Reilly since they were fraternity brothers in college, was incredulous that Silverman could take such a stance after Reilly championed “The Office” — which Silverman executive produces.

“Kevin Reilly stood up for the ‘The Office’ … made Reveille money … then to stand up [at TCA] and say ‘I just got here …,’” McPherson said. “Be a man.”

McPherson made the comments at TCA during a post-panel huddle with reporters. The executive also expressed irritation that Silverman says he courted “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Isaiah Washington before ABC fired him, noting such a move could be construed as inciting the actor to breech his contract.

"If [Silverman] was talking to him before he was available … he’s either clueless or stupid," McPherson said. “You guys let [Silverman] off the hook … that’s your prerogative,” he said.

The dispute is more than a little unusual since Reilly is now the entertainment president of McPherson's competitor Fox, while Silverman remains executive producer of McPherson's prized breakout hit "Ugly Betty"—which just earned 11 Emmy nominations for ABC.

Top ABC executives are unhappy about McPherson’s comments, sources said, which are effectively dominating the headlines of ABC’s TCA coverage.

UPDATE: NBC insiders defended their new co-chair and depicted McPherson’s attack as self destructive.

“He used his corporate pulpit for his own personal vendetta,” one NBC source said. “What does ABC care about Kevin Reilly? If anything, McPherson should be thanking Silverman up the wazoo for ‘Betty.’”

The source contended McPherson’s comments will alienate Universal Media Studios and Silverman’s former production company, Reveille, in which Silverman still holds a financial stake. “You don’t want to be a buyer scaring off your sellers,” the source said.

As for McPherson’s contention that Silverman inappropriately courted Washington, the NBC insider said: “Everybody in this town talks to everybody, McPherson has done it plenty of times, Ben did nothing that was actionable.”

NBC declined comment.

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Comments (81)

I think McPherson should just turn around and get out, since he is obviously not the type of management person who knows who is signing his pay check.

Chris:

Steve McPherson is right and so is Peter Liguori, looks like Jeff Zucker has messed up yet again, I wonder if he can somehow get another promotion out of this?

Joanna :

Good for McPherson. When was the last time anyone stood up for someone else in this industry? I have always liked him, and I like him even more now! The thing is, I don't think Silverman has it in him to "be a man."

Smiley:

Disney is signing his check. What's your point?

ettore:

this article reads like something out of a sitcom.

quite frankly, this seems like a very gay outburst (not that there's anything wrong with that ;).

is that just me, but what business is it of mcpherson's what nbc execs do? perhaps the answer lies in substituting the words 'best friend' for 'gay lover'!

Seems like McPherson, Silverman, and Zucker and the respective networks they work for all deserve one another. They're all morons.

Dave L:

I say you go Steve give it to Ben Anyone who would to to such a looing network such NBC and think he's a god and can turn it around,diserves what ever he gets!!

Dave L:

Just leave it to NBC not even to make a statement just as the cowards they are to run away,Don't you just love those type of people??

I think McPherson's comments were way out of line, but it appears as thought I'm one of the few Silverman supporters around here. It seems a bit shady to be bitching and moaning about hiring Isaiah when they fired him anyway. If he were being wooed to breach his contract (which I doubt, because I don't see him as being a super hot, in demand property), so what? That would have solved ABC's problem anyway and made them out to be the victims had it happened, instead of waiting until the end of the season after the storm had blown over to rustle it up again.

ABC owes Ugly Betty a lot of credit for their last year, but if McPherson feels like he can keep burning bridges and keep getting decent people, then more power to him. He can just keep filling the schedule with more Extreme Makeover repeats and Supernanny as he shoos away decent scripted producers. Reilly is doing fine at Fox, Silverman is fine at NBC. Just leave it be.

Seems to me McPherson owes a bunch of producers of ABC shows an apology. Isn't he supposed to be talking up the shows? He's instead using the TCA event as a public forum for his opinions about stuff that's none of his business.

http://iamatvjunkie.typepad.com/i_am_a_tv_junkie_a_blog_f/2007/07/todays-stupides.html

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