Is NBC's Ben Silverman Riding High? Or Just Shifting Blame?

Categories: TV Business

Written By

November 17th, 2008

Everyone knows that NBC ratings have been dreadful this season, and now from the NYPost's Page Six comes a story that it's Katherine Pope that is to blame for the recent failures of NBC's Lipstick Jungle and My Own Worst Enemy not Ben Silverman:

With yesterday's cancellation of two NBC shows produced by sister company Universal - "Lipstick Jungle," which starred Brooke Shields, and "My Own Worst Enemy," which featured Christian Slater -culpability falls on Universal Media Studio PresidentKatherine Pope, who oversaw both doomed series.

In the story, Silverman not only comes off without blame for the failures, but praised for increasing the profitability of the network:

But Silverman, 37, has been able to cut costs at the network and seems to be satisfying his bosses, particularly NBC chairman Jeff Zucker.

In fact, one network insider actually praised Silverman, saying, "The company is very happy with Ben. He is deep in negotiations to re-up his contract with NBC, and he has the network up 50 percent profit from year to year."

I'd applaud too, if I were sure that claim were true. Problem is, the NBC network financial results are so buried inside the GE corporate results that it's difficult to tell what the financial situation is at NBC, so everyone is reduced to relying on unaudited claims, whether from Zucker, Silverman or unattributed "insiders" like the NYPost.

Here's an alternate explanation that fits the facts we know are true (falling NBC ratings, the early failure of two shows added under Silverman's watch): Silverman *is* in trouble and he's doing his best to wage a PR offensive on both the "it's Pope's fault" and the "but, our profitability is up!" fronts. I'd love to hear directly from someone who really knows the inside situation.

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