Tag Archives: Ben Silverman

At last, the faceless yes-monkeys get what’s coming to them.

networksI confess, nothing in this world brings a sparkle to my jaded eye on an overcast Monday morning in Los Angeles quite like hearing that the television industry is in trouble, with ratings in the toilet, executives being canned, and advertisers fleeing like kids from a burning orphanage.

It feels so right somehow. Like justice, or something.

The Wrap website today features the first part of a series of articles about the decline and predicted extinction of  TV as we know it. It’s worth reading.

TV executive

Out of work TV executive

Speaking as someone who’s worked in TV on both sides of the Atlantic and been forced to deal with ghastly weasels who call themselves producers, as well as slimey, two-faced network executives with zero scruples or backbone, it gives me the greatest pleasure to witness karma at work as these rats are slowly, year upon year, flushed from the plush, carpeted, five-star drains they’ve been cowering in for so long and out into the open job market.

Television is changing for good. Having destroyed their industry by flooding the schedules increasingly with cheap, annoying, sensationalist and ultimately no-quality product, the suits are now finding – surprise surprise – that viewers are drifting away, searching for something more productive to do with their time, taking advertisers, and therefore budgets, with them.  

Howard Stern this morning declared the end of TV as we know it, blaming a string of lousy and misguided executive decisions that focused on pandering to the mindless youth demographic of this country rather than producing quality shows. And he’s right.  HBO and a couple of other cable networks are the lone wolves in the quality TV department. Everyone else has thrown in the towel. (Need an example? See Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.)    

My next door neighbor is on the board of HBO. He’s an incredibly smart man. If the rest of his colleagues are like him, it’s no wonder the network is thriving.

Sadly, he’s an isolated case. Most executives are not that astute. Usually, when we see these people sitting in their fancy corner offices making multi-million dollar deals, we assume they got where they are because they’re brilliant at what they do, when in fact, all too often, the exact opposite is true.

Kath and Kim

Kath and Kim

Look at the way Ben Silverman brought NBC to its creative knees with a string of appalling shows that were cancelled either during or, if they made it that far, at the end of the first season, never to reappear: Kath and Kim, My Own Worst Enemy, Knight Rider, Crusoe, Kings, Life, Lipstick Jungle….

Ghastly, every last one of them. Who on earth would ever think we’d want to sit and watch this trash? Oh, wait – Ben Silverman did. This is the trail of devastation he left behind him when he left.

My own experience of working with TV people confirms that they’re anything but the geniuses we have them down for. Most are faceless yes-monkeys, slaves to focus group findings and marketing surveys, whose main aptitude seems to be for manipulation, deceit and lying; everything else – judgment, creative ability, decisive action, vision, etc; stuff that really matters – is either secondary or non-existent.

A TV executive has one main priority: to keep his job as a TV executive and not get fired for making bad decisions. That’s it. If a show’s a hit, claim it as your own; if it flops, keep your head down and move on to the next thing. To hell with what’s actually good and worthwhile or what raises the bar and advances the medium.

So I applaud the dire prospects of the TV industry. And I absolutely love that the fall-out is taking many of the yes-monkeys with it.

Now, having said that, I will hand the baton jubilantly over to Josef Adalian at The Wrap for his analysis of the devastation that is taking place.   

“Network TV may be a cyclical business — but for bruised and battered broadcasters battling the worst economy in a generation, there’s little evidence to suggest a bounce back is in the cards any time soon.

If anything, things could get a lot worse before they get better. Some observers are even beginning to question whether there will ever be a turnaround, predicting that business model which has sustained broadcasters for close to 60 years has begun an irreversible decline.

The latest blow: A disastrous upfront advertising market that saw revenues plunge an estimated 15 percent from last year, dropping from $9.2 billion in 2008 to around $7.8 billion, according to estimates by several publications….”

Read the FULL article HERE.

TV Swami – he say YES to the demise of television, even though he’ll have nothing left to review on the BBC if it crashes.

www.cashpeters.com   

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Just what I love – a night of the long knives.

No Swami today. Sorry, guys.

Whaaa?

Hey, I said I’m sorry! But I have things to do. One of which is to put up a bunch of audio features on my website so that you can listen to past reports I did for Marketplace.

I’m in the final throes, last legs, dying moments of my radio “career” right now. It won’t last much longer. So I thought it would be nice if fans of the pieces I made for public radio could track down archival material after I’m gone. This is my version of the George W. Bush Library, only in my case I’ve actually done things I can be proud of. 

NBC Universal TCA PartyHaving said that, if I were writing a blog post today it would be to celebrate Ben Silverman being ousted at NBC. As the guy who oversaw the unnecessary revivals of American Gladiators and Knight Rider, as well as cancelling one of the best dramas NBC ever had – Journeyman– plus being responsible for truly terrible shows like Parks and Recreation, My Own Worst Enemy, and the upcoming five-nights-a-week Jay Leno Show, a disaster in the making, he was long overdue for being fired. Although in PR Knight Riderterms, he’s not being fired at all, he’s found another job and is going to that, because firing him would suggest that whoever hired him in the first place had made a huge mistake, and that would never do.

Indeed, the guy who really should be fired is the guy who hired him – Jeff Zucker, the big cheese at NBC Universal, who began as a researcher for their Olympic coverage in the 80s and rose steadily through the ranks when maybe, perhaps, for the good of all concerned, he should have stayed a researcher. Zucker, in the mind of many critics, is responsible for NBC being at the bottom of the network pile right now and continuing to languish.

But will they junk him? Oh good grief, absolutely not. Once these people get their feet under the desk, however mediocre they are, their big-time friends protect them like they’re an endangered species. Zucker is going nowhere.

Besides, he’s not alone. TV executives make lousy decisions and waste millions of dollars all the time and are never held accountable. For example, my innovative and fascinating little TV travel show, which had a legion of loyal fans, was cancelled in 2006, to be replaced by a bland, toe-curlingly awkward sports show hosted by Drew Carey. Which sports show? What was the title? Answer: nobody has a clue. It pretty much tanked, leaving Carey to move on to The Price is Right

In those circumstances, wouldn’t you have fired the executive who made such a rubbish and ill-conceived move? (That and many more, I might add.) But no, it won’t happen. The bad decisions continue at these places. Or rather, they do, until one day the roster of catastrophes is so great that someone has to be blamed, and publicly. And that’s what’s happened at NBC. 

That’s why Silverman is out finally. For the record, here he is, praising Leno and saying how great the atrocious Parks and Recreation is going to be.

And here he is in a hotel room singing a made-up song very, very badly.

On that ground alone, I’d have fired his ass. They say he’s being replaced with a worthy substitute. Hopefully, it’s someone with vision and artistic credentials, someone who’s created great shows, understands writers, is bold and daring and willing to consider bright new innovative ideas….let me see now….

His name, apparently, is Jeff Gaspin.

Hang on, let’s take look a look at his background….oh, what a surprise – he’s an accountant!

So another four years of doldrums for NBC, then. Will these people never learn?

 

TV Swami – he say NO to NBC pretty much for the foreseeable future.

www.cashpeters.com

Buy Cash’s book, Naked in Dangerous Places, HERE.

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