Once-celebrated, now-beleaguered NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman is leaving the company, it was announced on Ryan Seacrest's Twitter this morning. (Yes.) Well, OK, the New York Times has confirmed. So what the heck happened? Is this good news or bad?
Mostly it's bad, embarrassing news for Silverman, who was heralded back in 2007 as the coming of a new era. And for a time, he delivered. His departure is being spun as a resignation, but it looks a lot like Silverman was pushed. His two-year contract recently expired and the gig that he has lined up — running something for Barry Diller's IAC — sounds like deal slapped together in a hurry. As Diller vaguely describes it, Silverman will "create a truly integrated and truly interactive new media production entity, a next generation enterprise that bridges the gap between traditional television and the internet."
While at NBC, Silverman had a few successes watching The Office (which his old shingle Reveille sold to the network before he joined) develop into a critical and moderate ratings success.
But everything else? Yeck. None of the big hour-long programs that rolled out under Silverman's watch made much of an impact. Not Heroes (though, admittedly, that was developed before Silverman took over), not Knight Rider, not Southland, not Chuck, not My Own Worst Enemy. Plus the buzzed-about comedy Kath & Kim proved a complete disaster and old warhorses like Law & Order: SVU seemed to be graying around the edges.
Really this is just a story of a daring move—hire the cockeyed optimist kid to shake up creaky network TV—that sadly didn't pan out. It's not HBO, guys. It's TV.