Reveille's Ben Silverman Rides to NBC's Rescue

President-Entertainment Kevin Reilly Exits Two Weeks After Network's Upfront Presentation

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NEW YORK ( -- Only two weeks after his network's upfront presentation received a lukewarm reception, Kevin Reilly will be replaced as entertainment president at NBC. Ben Silverman, CEO of Reveille, known for bringing foreign shows such as "Ugly Betty," "The Biggest Loser" and "The Office" to American airwaves, is expected to assume his duties in a West Coast-based job to be split with Marc Graboff, president of NBC Universal Television West Coast.

Kevin Reilly and Ben Silverman

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After Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood website reported on May 25 that Mr. Silverman was being courted for Mr. Reilly's job, Mr. Reilly reportedly offered to step down on his own.

Other changing roles
Also expected to have changing roles within the company are Angela Bromstad, president of NBC Universal Television Studio, and Katherine Pope, Mr. Reilly's No. 2 in development. After NBC Universal officially announced it would not merge the studio and the network, what role either executive would assume in a new management lineup was unclear.

This isn't the first time NBC has had a major shake-up in the first weeks after the upfront. Last year Mr. Reilly made a major change to the just-announced fall schedule, moving Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60" from a competitive Thursday night lineup to Monday night. His schedule for fall 2007 also garnered criticism from ad buyers, calling his sci-fi-heavy lineup of new shows and his decision to keep the low-rated Thursday night comedy block intact conservative and even weak.

Mr. Reilly came to NBC in 2005 from FX, where he served as president-entertainment. Known for bringing edgy fare such as "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck" to the Fox cable network's schedule, Mr. Reilly's imprint is still seen there in later shows such as "Dirt" and "The Riches." A considerable amount of buzz has already been given to the prospect of his eventually taking over the recently vacated spot of CEO at HBO, after Chris Albrecht resigned following a domestic-abuse incident earlier this month in Las Vegas prior to The Cable Show.

Brand-friendly producer
Mr. Silverman, meanwhile, is an ex-William Morris agent known for integrating marketer brands into his shows. He also has a content deal to provide web content to MSN. Earlier this month at Microsoft's advertising summit in Seattle, Mr. Silverman said he was "annoyed" with the TV networks for excluding his company from the discussions with advertisers.

"They don't want to connect you with us," he told attendees, many of them marketer and agency representatives. "Their holy grail has been separating you from us and owning that competency. But the producers have that competency. ... And we can deliver that to you without the $60 billion business on top of that."

Larry Novenstern, director-broadcast at Optimedia, said he's worked with Mr. Silverman for a number of years and was hopeful about his chances for the NBC slot. As for Mr. Reilly, he said, "My feeling about him is he just needs to kind of take a little while off and pick and choose. He's really talented at what he does."

While NBC's fall schedule has no obvious blockbusters as of yet, Mr. Novenstern added, "Journeyman" looks to be a good companion piece to the sci-fi hit "Heroes," for which Mr. Reilly is responsible.

Another key buyer said networks have historically made significant tweaks to their schedules or infrastructures once they have a more clear sense of the upfront landscape. However, the buyer said, "this is a pretty a major tweak where you all of a sudden have a key guy come in and say, 'Hey, look you're going to replace me.' [But] I don't think the buying community was necessarily blown away by the announcement."
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