When last we checked in with party-positive NBC co-chairman-cum-rock-star Ben Silverman, he was at the Chateau Marmont, about to sate his munchies with a piece of a delicious cake depicting the newly installed programming chief as an avenging peacock whose talons would soon eviscerate his better-rated network competition. Today, a preview of a piece in the new issue of W continues to fill in the Silverman backstory (fun fact: at the age of 22, he was promoted three times—assistant to manager of development to director of development—on his very first day at the fledgling production company of a former CBS executive) while advancing the narrative of Silverman's inevitable march to TV domination, and we now join their story in progress (unfortunately, it's not online) at an NBC photo shoot a few days into his tenure:
Following the photographer's directives—"Lean forward! That's cool!"—Silverman, after changing into a charcoal suit sans tie, ends up contorted into a coy little ball, his chin resting on his knees. Suddenly a cell phone begins to bleat, its ring tone a refrain from one-hit rapper Mims: "This is why I'm hot. This is why I'm hot." The crew members eye each other nervously—Who forgot to silence his phone?—until Silverman languidly slips out of his kitten pose and answers his mobile.
Roll your eyes if you must, but this is what Holly-wood success looks like today. Ratings are what players like Silverman get paid for—not gravitas or modesty. Even so, when NBC tapped Silverman to be its cochairman (he shares the title with Marc Graboff, a buttoned-down veteran of the network's business operations), many in the TV business were surprised to see an open-collared, Jaguar XKR-driving, party-hopping producer ascend to one of the industry's most powerful posts. Silverman, however, is quite confident that he's up to the task. "I think I am the audience, you know what I mean? I viscerally respond. I am conceptual and a dealmaker," he says, sitting in his new office at NBC. (The place is undecorated but overflowing with congratulatory gifts that include a T-shirt declaring I'M A GENIUS!) "Those are things that usually don't all come in the same package. I am the perfect storm for making a television executive."
As endlessly entertaining as we find the multitudes-containing Silverman's self-aggrandizing musings about the unprecedented perfect-storminess of the synergy of his professional background and personal tastes, we must now move along to the executive's evasive commentary on perhaps the most anticipated urine test in Hollywood history:
During the three-week interim between the announcement of Silverman's hiring and his first day on the job, a story began circulating that the delay was due to GE's corporate drug-testing policy. The party boy, it was said, needed time to get the marijuana out of his system.Silverman denies the rumor, but only to a point. "No, no, no. I did not quit smoking pot to take this job," he says. "I'm still single, and I go out with my friends, but it was a nonissue for me. I think it blew out of proportion because I have nice Lucien [Pellat-Finet] sweaters with pot-leaf embroidery and I have some hemp sneakers. The day my deal was done, I said, 'I want to get this freakin' piss test out of the way.' All these people are, like, accusing me of s—-."
With Silverman eventually passing his test and safely installed atop NBC, that brief controversy is now safely behind him. Going forward, if the numbers pulled in by his recycled American Gladiators and celebrity-powered resuscitation of a moribund Trump franchise are strong enough, his corporate bosses won't care if he begins every late-afternoon development meeting with a hangover-clearing hit from a three-foot Peacock bong that plays the network's signature chimes each time he takes a pull.