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Ben Silverman Leaving NBC, Entertainment Co-Chairman Marc Graboff Becomes Network Ent. Chairman, Reporting to Jeff Gaspin

Jul 27, 2009  •  Post A Comment

NBC made official what’s been rumored for months: that Ben Silverman is leaving. He’ll be joining Barry Diller in a new-media venture.

Silverman leaves two years and one month after he arrived at the Peacock Network.

Said one top TV executive: "Ben’s an interesting cat. I think there were just as many people in Hoillywood rooting for him as rooting against him. Oddly, I think there’s a bunch of us–and I’m one of them–who felt he was really more interested in doing ad-driven creative deals than just creative deals. I know that’s a strange knock on him, given the financial situation with the networks. But I feel that if he were more really creatively oriented he would’ve had more success with the shows he put on."

–Chuck Ross

Here’s the press release NBC put out on Silverman’s leaving and the consolidation of all of NBC Universal Entertainment under Jeff Gaspin:

JEFF GASPIN EXPANDS DUTIES WITH PROMOTION TO CHAIRMAN, NBC UNIVERSAL TELEVISION ENTERTAINMENT

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – July 27, 2009 – Jeff Gaspin has been named Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment, effective immediately. This move expands his role to now include oversight of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, in addition to all of his current duties. This new structure will consolidate all of the company’s television entertainment assets, both broadcast and cable, English and Spanish, under one roof and will better allow the company to leverage its content across all of those properties.

Gaspin already has management responsibility for the company’s portfolio of entertainment cable networks, including USA, SyFy, Bravo, Oxygen, Universal HD, Sleuth, and Chiller, as well as its interests in the A&E and History networks. In addition, Gaspin oversees the company’s television distribution, including linear, digital and wireless, off-net syndication and first-run efforts, as well as the Telemundo broadcast network and its owned stations.

Ben Silverman, who has been Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, has announced that he is returning to his entrepreneurial roots to form a new venture. He will remain in his current role for several weeks to assist in the launch of NBC’s fall schedule. Marc Graboff, who has also been Co-Chairman, will continue as Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, reporting to Gaspin.

These announcements were made today by Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, NBC Universal, to whom Gaspin reports.

Said Zucker: "Jeff Gaspin is an extraordinary media professional who has had an incredible record of success in his 25 years in the business. He’s a strong creative executive who also has the business acumen necessary to succeed in today’s media environment. This new structure helps us align all of our television entertainment assets under one veteran executive at a time when continued innovation is essential."

Zucker added: “Ben Silverman has many exciting things he wants to accomplish and we applaud him as he sets off on his new endeavors. Ben brought us tremendous new thinking in this changing media age, and we’re grateful for that. Now, we look forward to working with him in his new venture."

"I can’t think of a more important time to take on this expanded role. Our industry is going through one of the most profound changes in history and I look forward to using all that I have learned to help build the NBC Universal assets through this period of unprecedented evolution,” said Gaspin. “NBC remains one of the strongest brands in television and I am excited to work with the talented executives at the network and Universal Media Studios."

Under the new structure, the cable and distribution executives who currently report to Gaspin will continue to do so. They include Bonnie Hammer (President, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions), Lauren Zalaznick (President, NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks), Barry Wallach (President, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution), Bridget Baker (President, TV Networks Distribution, NBC Universal), Don Browne (President, Telemundo) and J.B Perrette (President, Digital and Affiliate Distribution and Content Distribution Strategy).

The cable entertainment group, which includes Bravo, Chiller, Oxygen, Syfy, Sleuth, Universal HD and the USA Network, has experienced dynamic change under Gaspin’s leadership. In 2007, the group acquired Oxygen, and in 2008, sold its interest in the Sundance Channel and established the Universal Cable Productions television studio, further bolstering the company’s commitment to a strong cable portfolio. Each channel broke ratings records in 2008 and revenues and profits have exhibited double-digit growth under Gaspin’s watch.

Previously, Gaspin had served as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Universal Television Group since February 2007. Under Gaspin, the NBC Universal entertainment cable division posted its strongest performance ever. And with Gaspin being an early proponent of online streaming video, traffic to all of the television group’s entertainment websites more than doubled. Prior to that, Gaspin served as President of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cross-Network Strategy since 2004, adding digital content to his responsibilities in November 2005.

In December 2002, Gaspin was named president of Bravo, where he guided the day-to-day operation, programming, and marketing when the network was acquired by NBC. Among his accomplishments are "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," which was Bravo’s highest-rated show in its 23-year history, and "Project Runway," which continued to break ratings records for Bravo. He also brought Kathy Griffin to Bravo, where she’s starred in the two-time Emmy-winning "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List." Under Gaspin’s direction in 2003, Bravo increased its subscriber base from 68 million to 80 million and more than doubled revenue and profits.

Gaspin – who had earlier worked at NBC – restarted his NBC career in March 2001 as Executive Vice President, Alternative Series, Longform, Specials and Program Strategy, where he led the network’s unscripted programming division, specials, movies and mini-series. In that role, he developed the hit NBC programs "Deal or No Deal," "The Apprentice" and "Biggest Loser."

Prior to rejoining NBC, Gaspin served as Executive Vice President, Programming and Production, at VH1, where he created the acclaimed program "Behind the Music" for which he was nominated for two Emmys. Under Gaspin – who joined the channel in 1996 – VH1’s ratings more than doubled and its profits increased fivefold. He was responsible for overall programming strategies, as well as program development, production, acquisition, scheduling, on-air talent, news and studio operations. Also developed under his watch were "Divas Live" and the hit series "Pop-up Video," "Rock and Roll Jeopardy," "Storytellers" and "Before They Were Rock Stars."

During his first nine years at NBC, as vice president of Programming and Development, Gaspin helped develop and launch "Dateline NBC." Prior to that, he was responsible for the expansion of the "Today" franchise to seven days. Gaspin started his career at NBC in finance, serving as Director of Financial Planning for NBC News and overseeing production finance for "Late Night with David Letterman," "Saturday Night Live" and NBC’s TV stations division.

Gaspin received the GE Chairman’s Overall Leadership Award for 2008 and the GE Leadership Award in the Imagination category for his work on Bravo and NBC in 2003. Gaspin also serves on the boards of the A&E Television Networks, The Paley Center for Media, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and NBC Universal.

In add
ition, he was recognized with a Vision Award from Jewish Television Network in 2008 and was included in CableFAX’s 2008 Power List. Gaspin was also featured in Entertainment Weekly’s 2003 Power issue as a rising executive and in 1999, New York Magazine voted him one of the top most influential New Yorkers.

Gaspin holds an M.B.A. in strategic planning from the New York University Graduate School of Business Administration and a B.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Karen, their sons, Max and Ben, and their daughter, Samantha.

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