Silverman: NBC Ordering Celebrity Edition of 'Apprentice'
July 16, 2007 9:49 AM
NBC Co-Chair Ben Silverman whisks through the lobby of the Beverly Hilton. The term “rock star” has been used to describe the executive, so it’s only fitting he’s accompanied by an entourage of fellow NBC higher-ups, and together they break with the usual TCA pace (which is: meandering), flying past early arrival reporters.
Silverman checks out the presentation ballroom, where he says he’ll shortly announce a celebrity edition of “The Apprentice.” The celebrities will play for charity, 13 episodes have been ordered for midseason (only 13, he explains, to keep the time-commitment demands modest for the celebrities, but surely the show’s middling performance last season likely plays a factor too).
Silverman said he approached producer Mark Burnett and star Donald Trump with the idea. Trump immediately embraced it, though Burnett was tad reluctant. The producer has avoiding doing celebrity editions of his key shows in the past, but Silverman convinced him that “now is the time.”
As for which celebrities will participate, Silverman said one of the first calls he made was to the staff of “The Office,” which he produces. The idea of actors who play office workers on TV competing with business tasks in real life had its appeal.
The critics covering TCA normally dislike the network executive sessions, but Silverman’s Q&A is probably the most highly anticipated event of the tour given his colorful reputation and the drama surrounding his hiring.
A reporter asks Silverman if he’s nervous.
He smiles big. “No.”
A publicist asks if he wants breakfast. He stares at the buffet. And for a moment, the executive known for rapid and decisive decision making, draws a blank.