Ben Silverman


TRY TO MAKE IT REAL COMPARED TO WHAT: We like to take pokes at NBC’s new entertainment programming head Ben Silverman, not just because he’s the guy behind Coupling and The Biggest Loser, but because he so obviously enjoys doing that whole “I’m the real Ari Gold, bitches!” thing. Case in point is this wonderful exchange between Radar magazine and Silverman at the launch of Lipstick Jungle in New York last week, with a writer who’d really like to know what NBC plans on doing with Friday Night Lights:

“Radar: Quick question! A lot of us are happy that you've kept Friday Night Lights on the air despite lousy ratings. It's totally the best show on TV. But is there going to be another season?”

“Silverman: Do you watch 30 Rock? That's the best show on TV.”

“Radar: Not regularly. But what about FNL?”

“Silverman: Start watching 30 Rock. It's the best show on TV.”

Silverman’s got to be a scream at parent-teacher nights. Of course, when Radar’s writer finally gets Silverman to talk about Friday Night Lights, he doesn’t exactly get the answer he – or any fan of the show – are waiting for.

“I love it. You love it,” Silverman said. “Unfortunately, no one watches it. That's the thing with shows. People have to watch them. We're NBC, we have a reputation to uphold. And, man, with this writers' strike ... well, we'll see what we can do. But start watching 30 Rock.”

Fears that Silverman would aggressively lowbrow NBC since he took over from Kevin Reilly have been borne out by shows like American Gladiators, Celebrity Apprentice and My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad. In the Los Angeles Times yesterday, Scott Collins wondered at how low the network can sink, especially with the announcement of a America’s Favorite Mom, a reality special set to air on NBC during May sweeps week, which was created not by any production house, but by Teleflora, the wire service florist.

Don’t sweat it, baby. “We are not putting more reality on" permanently, Silverman told Collins in an e-mail exchange. "It's just a strike-informed reality.” According to Collins, however, two of NBC’s new shows were ordered a month before the strike, and were made by Reveille, the production company Silverman’s trying to sell to avoid conflicts of interest like this.

Silverman says it’s unfair to say that reality in primetime lowers a network’s tone. “Look at Apprentice, which is the most upscale reality show on TV,” he told Collins. Yeah – I feel twenty IQ points smarter after watching last Thursday’s painfully staged 2-hour Sopranos tribute. It’s a shame the whole Michael Vick thing went sour, because nothing says class like dog fights.

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