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Old 07-28-2009, 09:29 PM   #7
Mr. Television
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Co-Chief of NBC Entertainment Departs

Published: July 27, 2009

Ben Silverman, the co-chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment, is leaving the company to start up a new venture in partnership with Barry Diller’s media and Internet company, IAC.

Ben Silverman, who came to NBC in 2007 after leading his own independent company, is leaving to start a new venture with IAC.
The news was announced by IAC and Mr. Silverman Monday morning. At the same time, NBC announced that Jeff Gaspin, who has headed NBCU’s cable operations, will also assume Mr. Silverman’s role as head of the entertainment division.

Mr. Silverman, who came to NBC in 2007 after leading his own independent company, called Reveille, will remain at NBC through September to support the transition to Mr. Gaspin, and to back the start of new fall television series for the NBC network. Chief among these, and a project Mr. Silverman has personally supported, is the move of the NBC late-night star Jay Leno to a five-night-a-week primetime show.

Mr. Silverman said in a telephone interview, “I am invested in what happens in the fall, and they are invested in my helping with the transition.”

The release also said that “NBC Universal will continue to have a relationship with Mr. Silverman via the new venture through platform partnerships and a potential investment in the enterprise.”

Two of NBC’s biggest hit series, the comedy “The Office” and the reality show “The Biggest Loser,” were generated by Mr. Silverman’s previous company, and he continues to have producer credits on both programs.

Mr. Silverman’s two-year contract with NBC expired this summer. The president of NBCU, Jeff Zucker, had said in interviews that Mr. Silverman would be staying on for some unspecified period. That was expected to be at least until the start of the new year.

Mr. Silverman said on Monday that leaving now allows the next lineup of NBC shows to be created entirely under Mr. Gaspin’s supervision.

Mr. Silverman will leave an NBC network that continues to struggle with its prime-time programming. His first slate of shows last fall arrived in the wake of a writers’ strike that shut down Hollywood for five months and failed to achieve the turnaround in ratings that NBC needed. The second season of shows created under his leadership goes on the air this fall. Mr. Silverman said he has high hopes for several of the new entries.

But his new company, which does not yet have a name, will be designed to take advantage of the other role Mr. Silverman played at NBC, in bringing creative talent together with advertisers. Mr. Silverman, citing a production company and an advertising agency, likened the new venture to “Warner Brothers meets BBDO.”
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