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James Hibberd

Silverman Panel I: Why’d You Fire Reilly?

July 16, 2007 2:23 PM

This is the very first question newly hired co-chair Ben Silverman is asked upon taking his seat on the TCA stage: “Ben, what would you say about a company that hires [Silverman predecessor Kevin Reilly] for $6 million and fires them after a month? Is that a good company or bad company?”

Silverman visibly cringes at the question. If video cameras were allowed in the room, his reaction would be up on YouTube by now. Silverman had just finished rattling off a huge number of announcements documenting how much he’s done since joining the network a month ago, and the first question he gets is that one.

Silverman tries to answer, something about how he just started and wants to focus on the shows, but his co-chair Marc Graboff jumps in.

“He wasn’t fired,” Graboff said. “What happened was, when Ben became available ... we jumped at the opportunity to bring Ben on board to the company. … Kevin, when that happened, realized or determined that there there was no role for him at the company, and decided to move on.”

The critics laugh uproariously.

What they don’t realize is that this is exactly what Reilly has asked Graboff (and everybody else at NBC) to say about why he left. Graboff is still toeing this line even though he knows it’s a weak spin, even though he’s a bit bothered that Reilly—who exited the company mouthing polite platitudes about his former colleagues to the press—came out firing at NBC after he was snatched up at Fox. He’s doing what he feels is the right thing to do, even though he knows nobody buys it.


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