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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FOX and NBC Play Musical Chairs...

FOX and NBC are playing musical entertainment chairs. But which one of them will come out the winner?

Just weeks after he announced NBC’s fall schedule, Kevin Reilly was fired as NBC Entertainment President. Jeff Zucker, the president and chief executive of NBC Universal, told “The New York Times” that “the network has had a difficult couple of years and it needed a jolt.”

The jolt Zucker gave the network was to hire Ben Silverman as the new co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and the head of the NBC Universal Television Studio. Silverman has risen to prominence in the industry through his production company Reveille which produces “The Office,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Ugly Betty” and “The Tudors.”

Apparently Silverman was getting attention from other networks, and Zucker snapped him up before someone else could, giving Reilly, who seemed to be turning a corner for NBC, the boot.

So what great things has Silverman done in his first few weeks? He renewed “The Apprentice” and he optioned an American version of the popular telenovela “Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso,” which translates to “Without Breasts There Is No Paradise.”

Oh, and according to the “Times,” he brings a small set of chimes to meetings so he can play the NBC jingle whenever he gets happy about something.

Yeah. That sounds like the jolt NBC needed, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, Kevin Reilly has been named the Entertainment President at FOX, elevating Peter Liguori to chairman. Since Reilly was fired, you might question FOX’s decision. But Reilly was the person who greenlighted “Heroes,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Deal or No Deal.” And, ironically, he stuck by the low-rated “The Office,” allowing it to become a critical darling.

And Reilly and Liguori worked in this same arrangement before at FX where they developed “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner…

The sad truth is that no matter who the Entertainment President is, NBC will have a very hard time turning things around because the problem is the guy doing the hiring and firing, Jeff Zucker. The NBC decline began under Zucker, but somehow he continued to work his way up the corporate ladder.

Most critics agree that Reilly was on the verge of making a real difference at NBC by sticking with “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights,” and greenlighting buzzworthy new shows like “The Bionic Woman.” But now Silverman will get all the credit if that strategy works.

And who will get the blame if it doesn’t? Unfortunately not Zucker, who truly deserves it…