Big Ben and the Peacock

Silverman Must See More Than TV

By Published on .

First, full disclosure: Ben Silverman's a friend of mine, through business and personal ties. That said, while I've sent him an email already in light of today's news, I haven't heard back from him yet and am writing this with no added insight.

NBC's decision to put this hyper-energetic, entrepreneurial whiz kid in charge of its entertainment division is the right move, but not necessarily for the reasons you'd expect.

Sure, he knows good TV (witness "The Office," "Ugly Betty," etc.) Last year, he had a sitcom, a drama and a reality show on the air simultaneously. And remember, this is a man still nearly a half-decade from marking his 40th birthday.

What NBC is really getting with Ben Silverman is an executive who realizes that content isn't about a specific delivery platform. The screen it's consumed on is secondary to the story being told. If the networks have any chance of making their trains fly, they'll need people who really believe that, not just execs who pay lip service to the concept while doing all they can to sustain the legacy model.

Ben's also advertiser-friendly to an almost absurd degree, and as a producer has been frustrated at times by his limited ability to work directly with marketers on branded entertainment concepts. When he's running NBC's entertainment offerings across broadcast, cable and the Internet, he'll have the chance to form meaningful partnerships.

The danger, as always, is that he will be turned by the bureaucracy into just another network-TV programmer, a job that's still attractive to any 36-year-old in Hollywood—yes, even today. Still, in a match between the status quo and Silverman, my money's on Ben.
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