NBC's Jeff Zucker Sharpens Blade, Starts Thinking About A Trip To Burbank

Lately, when we see the words "restructuring," "reorganization," and "NBC Universal Television Group president Jeff Zucker" in close proximity in the same story, we brace ourselves for a lowball estimate of how many employees are going to be run head-first through a giant Staples MailMate shredder in the name of corporate streamlining. But instead of raising the spectre of layoffs, today's LAT article on possible changes at NBC 2.0's Burbank division discusses a scenario in which Zucker would "catapult" trusty cable TV lieutenant Jeff Gaspin, a man credited with the profitable queerification of Bravo, over current Aaron Sorkin-enabling entertainment president Kevin Reilly. Such a move would seem to raise the possibility that NBC might use that same trebuchet to launch Reilly over the Hollywood Hills, as adding a layer of supervision above an embattled executive is never exactly a vote of confidence. Reports the LAT:

Putting Gaspin in charge of NBC Universal's television properties, including the broadcast network, the TV studio and entertainment cable channels, could be risky. Gaspin, who now oversees such channels as USA, Bravo and Sci Fi, has little experience in broadcast programming. Among his successes is broadening the appeal of Bravo with such programs as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

In addition, the move would catapult Gaspin over respected programmer Kevin Reilly, the NBC entertainment president who has helped revive the broadcast network with such popular shows as "The Office," "Heroes" and "Deal or No Deal."

Although Reilly is popular with Hollywood producers, writers and agents, he has come under criticism internally for spending heavily on such high-profile disappointments as Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Kidnapped." He also has alienated some key executives, including NBC Universal Television Studio President Angela Bromstad.

Reilly declined to comment.

If Gaspin is installed as Reilly's superior, it could create some interesting creative tensions (separate from the looming job security ones) that could quickly manifest themselves on the network. While Reilly fights to get more prohibitively expensive, low-rated "prestige" dramas onto the schedule, the broadcast-inexperienced Gaspin could press to attempt to duplicate his basic cable success by demanding that his new underling further broaden Deal or No Deal's appeal by insisting that the show's contestants scream at briefcases held by 26 flamboyantly gay lifestyle makeover specialists, who each offer a sassy put-down about the hopeful player's style whenever their number is called.