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May 30, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 30, 2007 |

Well the big trade story of the week has to be NBC’s unceremonious firing of the president of NBC Entertainment, Kevin Reilly. In fact, I’m gonna’ devote this whole entry to talking about it, and then there will be a second round-up later this morning to cover the rest of week’s TV talk.

So reports of Reilly’s grand kiss-off started circulating on the internets last Friday. In fact, rumor has it that Reilly himself first learned of his imminent demise from such internet postings (and that’s gotta be a real pisser, particularly in light of the plush new contract he had just obtained back in March). NBC let all the rumors stew over the holiday weekend, waiting until late yesterday to make an official statement confirming that Reilly was kaput. Now some might find the timing suspect, since this comes on the heels of the upfronts and the culmination of the latest development season — why keep the guy around to develop another season, only to fire him before he can get around to seeing it through? The reality is that the season ratings just came out, and NBC’s firm spot in fourth place was surely the straw that broke this camel’s back (though they must’ve known from their week-to-week performance how their season standing was going to shake out).

And what, you ask, does all this mean for NBC? Well, Reilly clearly had some good programming chops. Before joining NBC in 2004, he was at FX, where he was responsible for bringing that network both “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck.” And at NBC, he was the guy responsible for successes like “My Name is Earl” and “Heroes.” More importantly, he was sometimes willing to stand behind shows in the face of adversity, if he thought they were worthy — he did this for “The Office” back in its early days, and he did so again last season with both “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights.” Of course, he was by no means flawless — one need look no further than last season’s bungling of shows like “Kidnapped” and “Andy Barker P.I.,” or the fact that “20 Good Years” ever made it to air in the first place (and perhaps we can throw some of the blame behind the “Studio 60” failure Reilly’s way too, for his inability to rein Sorkin in). So as with any Hollywood exec, you have to take the bad with the good. Personally, I liked Reilly’s good a lot.

Of course, much of the same can be said for one-half of Reilly’s replacement, Ben Silverman. Silverman and his production company are responsible for some solid shows like “Ugly Betty” and FX’s “30 Days.” Even better, Silverman is responsible for one of the very shows Reilly himself later championed — “The Office.” But remember, all Hollywood execs have their bad bits too, and Silverman is no different. Among other things, he’s the guy responsible for the disaster that that was the Americanized “Coupling,” and he’s to blame for foisting “The Biggest Loser” on us.

Now the reason I referred to Silverman as “one-half of Reilly’s replacement” is because NBC actually named Silverman and Marc Graboff as his replacement, with the two men acting as co-heads of both the network and NBC’s television production studio. Graboff had been the president of NBC Universal TV (West Coast) — frankly, I’m not exactly sure what this means he did, but I’m pretty sure it’s more business-side than development-side. So he probably makes for a nice balance to Silverman, as NBC sees it. But as I see it, things in Hollywood typically get worse when you turn them over to committee. So running a network by what is essentially a three man committee (lest we forget NBC president Jeff Zucker, who always has the final say), doesn’t exactly smell like roses to me.

Which brings us back to the question of what this all means. Well, we really won’t know for a good year, at least. While it’ll be interesting to see how Silverman and Graboff handle next fall’s programming, remember, that’s not their development slate. So the binger answer will come this time next year, following their first crack at a full development cycle. However, my gut tells me that losing the network’s biggest champion for “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights” is not a good thing — certainly not for these two shows, which will have to fight like hell for third seasons, but I it also may bode poorly for the direction NBC’s programming takes. But I guess time will tell.

Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He’s still wondering why Zucker didn’t offer the job to him first.

Looks like I used "You're Pajiba'ed!" as a Headline One Week too Soon

The Trade Round-Up, Part I / The TV Whore
May 30, 2007

Industry | May 30, 2007 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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