NBC's Silverman, ABC's McPherson Fail To Provide Expected Bloodshed At HRTS Panel


Even though yesterday's Hollywood Radio and TV Society luncheon and panel discussion has to be declared an overall disappointment because NBC perfect storm Ben Silverman and combative ABC president Steve McPherson, appearing together for the first time since McPherson challenged the network rival who took his best buddy's job to "be a man," failed to come to the blows the assembled journalists not-so-secretly hoped for, director/producer Barry Sonnenfeld did earn positive notices ("One of the HRTS' more lively moderators in recent memory!" raves Variety) for his hosting work at the event. THR compiles a greatest hits package of Sonnenfeld's attempts at comic relief:

Sonnenfeld quickly set the tone Tuesday by opening with a story about the size of his penis.
He followed up by asking such off-the-cuff questions as "Do you get more sex as an independent producer or an executive, and has sex changed?" (to NBC's Ben Silverman); "Do you agree that Peter Liguori is so handsome, you have to punch him in the face?" (to Fox's Kevin Reilly); "Has Les Moonves ever threatened to kill one of you?" (to CBS' Nina Tassler and the CW's Dawn Ostroff); and, to all of them, "If death was not an option, who would you rather drive in a car with cross country — Les Moonves in a really bad mood or Steve McPherson?"

While Sonnenfeld kept much of the attention on himself with his lighthearted dick jokes and fun, hypothetical questions about potentially fatal road trips with TV's deadliest personalities, at least one panelist managed to make a trade paper's highlights list, as TV Week chooses its top "Oh no you di'int, Mr. Sassy Programming Executive!" moment:

Even by softball HRTS standards, Sonnenfeld seemed mainly interested in his own personal musings — such as asking why his pitch meetings take so long, and how many hours executives spend reading scripts instead of spending time at home.

Actually, that latter question did prompt one exchange that for some was worth the price of admission. Silverman tried to gamely poke fun at his partygoer image by saying that, instead of spending time with his family like the other network executives, he's busy "dating their kids." Reilly leaned over and said, "I have two boys," and the audience hooted.

Now twice-shamed by the barbs of his network rivals in a public forum, an atypically dejected Silverman was later overheard quietly muttering into his BlackBerry, hinting to an NBC underling that he'd be "totally psyched" if when he returned to the office following the panel, everyone "surprised" him with a party where he and his staff would share pieces of a delicious cake depicting him ripping out Kevin Reilly's small intestines with his razor-sharp peacock claws, "you know, just if we have one of those laying around somewhere."

[Photo: Getty Images]