Times TV reporter Bill Carter's profile on NBC co-chairman and Executive Bong Smoker Ben Silverman ran today. To put it lightly: Carter takes Silverman by the collar, beats him, and stuffs him in a locker.
It's brutal. Carter wrote around the quotes and got exactly what he wanted: to write a Riot-Act level piece capable of inciting the pitchfork-wielding masses of Hollywood suits, gossips, and former NBC employees who want a Blackberry lodged through Silverman and Jeff Zucker's skulls (and put on display prominently at the NBC-Universal commissary). The title alone ("NBC Hired a Hit Maker. It's Still Waiting.") is fairly cruel. But then again, so was what he managed to get. For the first time, we're seeing less signs of Silverman hanging himself out to dry, and what might be the first instances of a somewhat apologetic-sounding Jeff Zucker beginning to try and swim to shore on Ben. Yes, Zucker is now trying to save his own ass:
Jeff Zucker, Mr. Silverman's boss and the chief executive of NBC Universal, says he continues to value Mr. Silverman's work. "Ben has a skill set that is incredibly appropriate for these times," he said. "If we weren't supportive of Ben, he wouldn't be here."
Still, the fact that there has been no formal deal announced to renew Mr. Silverman's contract will probably set off speculation among Mr. Silverman's critics that Mr. Zucker does not want to make a public endorsement of him.
That can't be bode well for either of them. Neither can the rest of the piece, which is, for all intents and purposes, an utter one-handed dunk in the face of anything that's been compiled on Silverman previous to this. It recounts the partying:
As for his personal life, Mr. Silverman said he had taken steps to temper his social profile, which made him a frequent target in the Hollywood blogosphere. (He famously held a party populated by models in bikinisand white tigers in cages.) "I am more conscious of how I'm being presented," he said.
The off-hand remarks:
He was quoted dismissing two network competitors as "D-girls" - or low-level development executives. "I should never have called them that," Mr. Silverman said.
Silverman's goal posts:
...In its current position, still last among the major networks, NBC needs up, not flat; it also had the Super Bowl this season and it won't next year. To pick up [the] slack, it will require something (or several somethings) shiny and successful out of Mr. Silverman's shop.
...as well as his removal from the day-to-day of developing and green-lighting shows, the programming failures (though there is some praise reserved for his success with The Biggest Loser and The Office, both of which arrived via him, before he got to NBC). Oh, and then there's this gem, which makes Silverman sound like he showed up to work on the first day in boardshorts, ready to rock the lot with a set of aged cedar bongos under his arms:
"What I didn't realize is, it's really hard to have a vision running a network," Mr. Silverman said. "You can have an agenda. But it's almost impossible to have a vision because of the scale of the business and the entropy that already exists."
What the hell were Zucker and Silverman thinking giving anything - quotes, on the record or off - to Carter in the first place? How did they not know he was gonna hang them out to dry? If anything, this is throwing a propane tank on the coals: the piece in it of itself represents a massive fuckup on both of their parts, and Silverman - probably sitting at home right now, face in a Pyrex - will inevitably go deeper into hiding from being the programming rockstar he once saw himself as, and further into the dark, cavernous corridors of his advertisers' offices to do the "business stuff" he imaginably despises. It doesn't help that they included a chart (pictured below) to show how terrible of a job Silverman's doing. Growing up: bummer, man.