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MEET THE NEW BOSS: The best part of this job, for the next few months at least, looks to be reporting the latest news from NBC, where young turk new boss Ben Silverman has gone in shooting flame from his exhaust with a mandate to turn around the network that went from first to fourth place during the tenure of former head of entertainment Kevin Reilly.
Last week Silverman let it be known that he was desperate to get Rosie O’Donnell on NBC, as either host of a prime-time game show, a daytime talk show – or both, according to a Fox News story. On the weekend, the Hollywood Reporter ran a story speculating that Mike Darnell - the man who made Fox the first really big player in the reality TV game with shows like Joe Millionaire, The Littlest Groom, Temptation Island, How To Marry A Multi-Millionaire and gross-out special programming like When Animals Attack and 101 Things Removed From The Human Body – was looking to leave Fox after 13 years to start his own production company.
Silverman, a former independent producer himself until the moment he took the NBC job, is rumoured to be encouraging Darnell with the move, with offers of a loose arrangement to produce reality content for the network in a deal similar to the one he had with his own company, Reveille. Silverman is obviously eager to gut Fox on the reality TV front and get Darnell to repeat the success he had there with shows like American Idol and Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
In a recent New York magazine piece, Silverman said he’s lost six pounds since taking over Reilly’s job, and chatted openly about what he’s trying to get going for NBC this week. He admitted he hasn’t had time to watch all of NBC’s shows, but said he loved Journeyman, though he couldn’t remember the name of its star. One of his priorities upon taking over was talking to Donald Trump about fixing The Apprentice, which currently has no home on NBC’s fall schedule.
He also said that overtures have been made to Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, the creators of Knocked Up and The 40-Year Old Virgin, to create something for the network. Apatow and Feig, who went through nightmares when their critically acclaimed shows Freaks And Geeks and Undeclared were cancelled after brief runs on NBC and Fox, respectively, have gone on the record with their reluctance to go back to TV. You begin to wonder whether Silverman’s next move will be to announce that he’d love for “that Orson Welles guy” to develop a prime time family drama for NBC, “like that Ambersons thing, but with tits and swearing.”
The best part of the New York piece, however, was Office writer and actor B.J. Novak – he’s Ryan the temp, who was promoted to boss in the season finale – saying he wants to model his character in the new season on Silverman. “I’ve been studying his mannerisms: huge enthusiasm, and then he’ll slip in an incredible knowledge of specifics, way deep into a lot of complicated handshakes and backslapping.” Sounds great.