Ben Silverman is out. Jeff Gaspin is in.
First lets look at the two of them:
Ben Silverman: Son of Mary Silverman a competent network exec for Disney, Court TV, and the like. He graduated college in 92 and immediately made a name for himself at William Morris where he worked in the International Packaging division. It was here where he came up with the idea of starting a production company that bought rights to international TV programs and sold Americanized versions of them here. He had some success with it and THE OFFICE in particular. Zucker decided he’d be perfect for NBC.
Jeff Gaspin: Gaspin made his big break in the mid 80s at NBC where he was a finance exec for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and was pivotal in the return of success for the show. His work caught the eyes of people at NBC NEWS and he was made VP where he helped create DATELINE NBC. Eventually he ended up at VH1. There he helped create BEHIND THE MUSIC. Eventually he would end up at NBC Universal and helped develop THE APPRENTICE and THE BIGGEST LOSER before heading up Bravo when NBC wanted to duplicate what had happened with VH1 (Gaspin doubled the ratings and brought in 5 times the profit). There he developed QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY. Bravo all of a sudden had a show people watched and talked about.
In 2007 Gaspin was made head of NBC’s cable division. Here again he was successful helping develop shows like BURN NOTICE and ROYAL PAINS the top two scripted shows on Cable right now. He has increased viewing and profit for all the major cable brands and helped increase the cable division with acquisitions of Oxygen and The Weather Channel.
So here you have 2 guys, one a loud mouthed braggart with a background that entirely relied on the abilities of others and acquiring their intellectual property to resell to another market, and another who has had success in late night, news, reality tv, and cable all while working hard and being a quiet guy. The quiet guy got passed up twice for a job that should have been his. Meanwhile he kept being the only success story at NBC Universal.
The kid wonder is gone. The hard working guy finally is getting his chance.
Gaspin is a life saver for fans of NBC shows. When CHUCK fans showed their appreciation to Subway, it was Gaspin who first noticed at NBC Universal. One way or another the show would have been saved for CHUCK fans. Gaspin also has a great eye for quality and understands marketing. For NBC to be successful they need one of their new shows to do well, and for CHUCK to finally be the success it was meant to be.
What is Gaspin going to do with NBC? For one he is going to likely find new stronger Reality programming and try and fix the scripted programming department. Zucker has left him with a disaster. I said last Spring to some friends in the industry that if Zucker and BS weren’t gone before next season that NBC may fall entirely apart. They have fixed half of the problem, but the good news is that Zucker in his current position finally made the right choice. Now it is up for him to leave Gaspin to do what he does.
Gaspin has expressed interest in a few of the new shows and has some of the stronger pilot ideas floating around right now being rounded up. He also appears to be showing direct interest with Subway to make sure that CHUCK is a financial success. Gaspin also has some real success in using the internet to help create hype in better ways. Gaspin is smart he has made statements behind the scenes already that NBC needs to think outside the box and points to CHUCK. Why? Because cable has 2 profit streams: subscription and advertising. Network TV is a different beast and DVR is hurting the business of advertising. So finding ways to implement advertising schemes in new ways and partnerships just like Subway and CHUCK are doing is the future.
No more BS, just a guy who generally tells it like it is. I remember when the marketing guys threw around SCI-FI’s new name and slogan. The slogan is “Imagine Greater,” and the the new name is SyFy. I remember the “Imagine Greater,” line and I cracked a joke “I imagine better programming,” and Gaspin responded in a frank manner that admitted their lineup had been weak and wasn’t getting much better.
So we got the quiet guy now, and I think that is a good thing. You won’t get a lot of quotes from him, but what we should get is an improvement in quality and vision. Vision is important and NBC has to take what little successes they have and make do with them.
I don’t know how quickly he will pull the plug on Leno, but I suspect it won’t last a year.