NBC's Co-Chairmen Plan to Play Nice Together

Silverman, Graboff Each Have Own Strengths

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After four days of keeping mum on the status of Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, NBC Universal finally confirmed today its new two-executive team to jointly oversee its entertainment and studio divisions.
Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman

The two men -- Ben Silverman, founder of independent production shop Reveille, and Marc Graboff, former president of NBC Universal Television, West Coast -- will play to their strengths. Mr. Silverman "will be the point person on creative and programming and scheduling and marketing," said Mr. Graboff during a conference call this afternoon. The executives will share the title of co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio.

Ratings struggle
NBC revealed its new structure after word leaked out several days earlier that the network intended to replace Mr. Reilly, a short time after signing him to a multiyear deal. Despite the introduction of critically well-received programs such as "30 Rock" and "Friday Night Lights," NBC has continued to struggle to win ratings, a marked turnaround from just a few short years ago when it was riding high off such hits as "Friends" and "Frasier."

Media buyers have privately offered mixed opinions on the network's slate of programs for next season that Mr. Reilly showcased earlier this month at NBC's annual upfront presentation, taking particular issue with "Age of Love," a reality show that pits 20-something women against women in their 40s to woo a young male tennis player.
Marc Graboff
Marc Graboff Credit: NBC

NBC tried to play down speculation that it was dissatisfied with Mr. Reilly's performance or the new programs he unveiled during the upfront.

'Mutual decision'
"Kevin made a decision that it was time for him to move and it was something that we agreed to. It was a mutual decision that was amicable," said Jeff Zucker, president-CEO of NBC Universal. Mr. Zucker said that Mr. Reilly was informed of the development by Mr. Graboff on Friday; Mr. Reilly then spoke to Mr. Zucker over the weekend.

Some questions are also emerging about how Mr. Silverman will deal with Reveille, which is expanding a "first-look" deal it struck with NBC's broadcast network and cable properties for all of its scripted and unscripted projects. The deal has been extended for two more years. Executives said NBC had not considered purchasing Reveille, and that the production shop would remain independent and be run by other executives going forward.
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