In its new issue, Esquire profiles compulsively quotable NBC perfect storm Ben Silverman, who apparently has not been too busy monitoring the foreign airwaves for lowbrow, easily importable reality TV formats he can plug into the holes the writers strike will soon blow in his network's schedule to publicly invite his favorite rivals over for a good, old-fashioned dick-measuring contest. We begin with Silverman's dismissal of network nemeses Kevin "The One Whose Job I Was Begged To Take" Reilly (now of Fox) and Steve "I Gave Him A Huge Hit He Didn't Even Want" McPherson as D-girls, fightin' words if we've ever heard any:
"The industry hasn't seen an executive like me in a long time," Silverman says. "Traditionally, development executives rise through a specific subsection of the TV business — prime time, network, scripted programming. They're basically D-girls," he says, using the derogatory industry slang for cute young development execs with little power. "That's what [ABC Entertainment president] Steve McPherson is, that's what [Fox Entertainment president] Kevin Reilly is. That's bad vernacular, but they're all D-girls."
Questions have also been raised about Silverman's treatment of Kevin Reilly, who, two years after significantly boosting Reveille's profile by saving The Office, lost his job in what some believe was a coup. "We were friends," Silverman says of Reilly. "But he's been shockingly lacking grace. Everyone knows that somebody doesn't show up and say, 'Hey, I want that job.' That's not how it works. You get pursued." Though Silverman isn't shy about questioning some of Reilly's decisions. "The more I'm inside it," he says, "the more I recognize how things could have been done better. Like, how can you order a Studio 60 and a 30 Rock? How could you ever order two shows about the same subject matter and put numbers in their titles? That's so transparently flawed to me. And why would you put on Martha Stewart and Donald Trump at the same time under the same brand [The Apprentice] twice a week? I would never have done that." [...]
"He's a moron," Silverman says of McPherson, his voice raising. "I delivered him a huge hit that he didn't want: Ugly Betty. He hated the show, he didn't want America Ferrera, he didn't understand why I pitched it to him seventeen times and wouldn't stop. Then it delivered despite that. And every time we would do well, he'd try to find some issue with it. I think he wishes he had been a producer. He's a sad man, like a miserable guy stuck operating as an executive. And it probably makes him nuts that this kid who's five years younger than him is producing hit shows and then goes and gets his job in an end run — and a much bigger job than he has." (McPherson and Reilly declined to respond; an ABC spokeswoman says Silverman's Ugly Betty story is inaccurate and distorts the way the pitch process works.)
Let's hope that everyone's not too busy with trying to keep their strike-hampered networks afloat for these latest tensions to really fester, for this could be the beginning of a deeply satisfying, entertaining feud. Perhaps the next volley will be fired jointly by Reilly and McPherson, who can commission an enormous cake (it always comes back to that cake) depicting the now-infamous Silverman/Peacock chimera being disembowelled by coyotes bearing the Fox and ABC logos, a gift featuring a level of gruesome detail so disturbing (how did Silverman's Blackberry wind up jammed into the sensitive area beneath his colorful tail feathers?) that the spooked executive will never travel outside of the safety of NBC without muscle borrowed from the set of his American Gladiators remake.