NBC to Announce New Exec Roles Soon

May 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

This article was updated at 10:06 AM on Tuesday 29 May, 2007.
NBC is expected to make a major announcement today or tomorrow on the fates of at least three top executives, and prolific producer Ben Silverman is set to take a major new role at the company.
Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, who re-signed with the network only three months ago, will step down, sources familiar with the matter said. NBC Universal Television Studio President Angela Bromstad, whose future has been in limbo in recent months while the company contemplated merging the studio and network, will likely remain on board, possibly overseeing international efforts in London. Executive VP Katherine Pope, a 34-year-old rising star who helped develop NBC’s breakout hit “Heroes,” also is likely to stay with the company.
Rumors of the spectacular NBC shakeup have roiled the industry, with insiders expressing surprise over several aspects of the story: That NBC would give a 36-year-old network outsider, Mr. Silverman, such a powerful position; that Mr. Silverman would give up his producing perch to run a challenged network; that Ms. Pope might leave the company.
But the biggest surprise has centered around NBC’s handling of Mr. Reilly, who reportedly only learned of his fate after receiving an anonymous e-mail Friday claiming that Mr. Silverman was replacing him. After Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood blog first reported the pending shakeup, all parties went into overdrive through the holiday weekend to lock down the new agreements.
As of Tuesday morning, the major movements of the story were essentially unchanged: Mr. Silverman, producer of hits such as NBC’s “The Office” and ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” will step into a newly created position above Mr. Reilly’s former slot, possibly overseeing both the network and NBC Universal Television Studio. The agreement may call for NBC to purchase Mr. Silverman’s production company, Reveille, as well.
Ms. Bromstad’s position has been in limbo in recent months. Mr. Reilly and Ms. Bromstad reportedly have clashed on creative projects and Ms. Bromstad was noticeably absent from this month’s network upfront presentation to advertisers in New York.
Sources said NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker is a supporter of Ms. Bromstad and was trying to find a way to keep her on board.
According to published reports, Ms. Pope, having planned to move to the studio side, was upset by Mr. Zucker’s move to place the network and studio under Mr. Silverman and asked to be let out of her contract last week. Ms. Pope is credited with developing the season’s lone breakout for NBC, “Heroes,” and one insider described her attempt to quit as “a bluff that Zucker called.”
When NBC renewed Mr. Reilly’s contract earlier this year, the network had cause for tentative optimism. Coming off the fall, NBC was again in fourth place in the ratings, but it showed some year-to-year audience growth. The network also garnered buzz for new shows like “Heroes” and “Friday Night Lights.”
But the recent broadcast ratings slump hit NBC especially hard, with the network suffering some of its lowest ratings in Nielsen’s history. The May sweeps period concluded last week with NBC down a steep 22 percent compared to the same period last year in the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic.
The network’s upfront presentation was considered lackluster by some industry insiders, with only four new shows added for fall and no new comedies.
Mr. Reilly also attracted some recent criticism by renewing low-rated series “Lights” and “30 Rock.” But people familiar with the matter said NBC’s record-low ratings are the key reason Mr. Zucker sought out Mr. Silverman for the new position.
Media reports have speculated Mr. Reilly might move to HBO, which has a top executive vacancy due to the departure of CEO Chris Albrecht earlier this month. Mr. Reilly often has been accused of having more of a premium-cable sensibility, due to developing shows like “Lights,” “30 Rock” and “The Office” that score highly with critics and sophisticated viewers but lack broad-based appeal. But HBO considers Mr. Reilly more of a programmer than a CEO, and sources said the company likely is looking elsewhere to fill Mr. Albrecht’s post.
(Editor: Horowitz)

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