As NBC must come to admit today, what looks good on 50 percent linen résumé paper can turn out to be kinda crappy in real life. Ben Silverman, the network's co-chair for entertainment, has scooted out the door after two years and uncountable missteps. Here is a look back at the highlights of his gallingly impressive flameout.
HIGH: The 38-year-old son of a composer first rose to his cushy position on the shoulders of Reveille, his production studio that specialized in translating European programming into American hits. Reveille was responsible for bringing U.S. versions of The Office and The Biggest Loser to NBC; the shows remain two of the network's biggest hits.
SORT OF HIGH: Sells Reveille to Elizabeth Murdoch for an estimated $200 million, of which he takes a massive $125 million cut. It comes, however, at a reputational cost: He was blasted for perhaps inappropriately muddling his personal business interests with those of NBC.
ON THE BUBBLE: Helps keep Jay Leno via the deal that switched the comedian to a 10 p.m. spot. First seen as savvy, but prior to its launch, no one can predict how successful it will be; to date, NBC's other late-night maneuvering (Conan, Fallon) has fared poorly.
LOW: Celebrates 24 Emmy nominations for Reveille shows in 2007 with a huge house party in Hollywood Hills, replete with bikini babes dancing on pool rafts and a rented, caged white tiger. Of the party, Silverman defended himself like a true gentleman: "You looked around and saw so many beautiful women. But then you looked closer and it's like, Hey, that's Molly Sims. See what I mean? Just a totally sick party."
LOWER: To Esquire, in a so-bad-it's-bad profile of him sporting a "white V-neck" and a mangy sorta-beard, he reeled off intelligent gems about the competition. "The industry hasn't seen an executive like me in a long time. Traditionally, development executives rise through a specific subsection of the TV business
EVEN LOWER: Silverman's key asset—his eye for creative, interesting television and talent—failed to pan out in a big way for the network. An adaption of Australia's Kath and Kim, a reboot of American Gladiator, the Ford-hawking Knight Rider, the religious-subtext-filled drama Kings, the flagging Friday Night Lights—barely any of the Silverman-shepherded projects at NBC took off, and several lasted only a season. Certainly there were no watershed West Wing moments. And it's almost sitcom-laughtrack-funny that Silverman's departure comes now—the month that Friends, NBC's last major, zeitgeist-y comedy, turned 15. That's a lot of candles.
THE LOWEST OF THE LOW: Gotta be this video, linked here and above. Posted online in mid-May to Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood blog, the video clip of Silverman singing idiotically in an Aspen, Colo., bathroom was the ultimate embarrassment for NBC. It's already amazing that a nearly 40-year-old man can so consistently tagged as a "young wunderkind" by the industry trades. But with this clip, Silverman cemented for all eternity his reputation as a 19-year-old frat boy.