News Articles

Green With Ben-vy

By Ben Grossman 9/21/2007 08:00:00 PM Eastern

B&C has just learned that NBC Universal co-chief Ben Silverman wears boxer shorts. I will pause now to let everyone first grasp the magnitude of this exclusive, and then race to tip off your favorite Hollywood insider columnist (paging Defamer or Nikki Finke). You'll have to excuse me if I thought this was legitimate news, given the industry's current obsession with Silverman's personal life.

Whether it is whispered rumors over lunch at the Grill in Beverly Hills, or gossip column reports about his partying, recreational drug use, sex life or whatever else, Silverman is apparently like our own little Lindsay Lohan.

Which leads to my one comment about Ben Silverman's private life: Who cares?

NBC knew (for the most part) what it was getting with the gregarious former agent and producer, as did many people in the business who know the fast-living Reveille founder.

Jeff Zucker didn't hire Silverman to be a role model. He brought him in as a Hail Mary to bail out his struggling network.

But it's Silverman's life away from the office that people love gabbing about. And the guys spreading the stories are often the ones driving the Jaguars, not the Toyota Camrys, if you know what I mean.

So, why all this gossip? First of all, it's fun. And second, people are probably pretty jealous. Jealous this guy is now running a network. Jealous he has a nightlife that old married guys can only dream about. (You can add my name to that list.)

One of the latest tales making the Hollywood rounds last week was about Silverman's party the Friday night before the Emmys, a shindig that apparently lasted until—gasp—six in the morning.

Must be nice. Personally, I'm only doing one of two things when I'm awake between midnight and six: changing my kid's diaper or worrying about how long it's going to be before someone is changing mine.

Maybe that explains why so many people are fixated on Silverman with a kind of reality-show fascination. In this day and age of consolidation and close Wall Street monitoring, network presidents have gotten boring. You have to really work to trash these people.

Silverman aside, ABC's Steve McPherson is the most outspoken of the current crop, but he just had a second kid. I wouldn't be checking TMZ to see what he's up to on Saturday nights.

Last year, CBS's Nina Tassler spent one Saturday night celebrating her bat mitzvah. No one likes to pick on youngsters. (Insert your own Kid Nation joke here.)

Kevin Reilly just went from worst (NBC) to first (Fox) faster than my beloved 1987 Minnesota Twins. Good luck wiping the Perma-Brite grin off his face.

And you'd have about as much chance of seeing CW chief Dawn Ostroff dancing on a table at LAX nightclub in Vegas as you would seeing a lowly B&C columnist behind the wheel of a Jaguar instead of a Camry.

Given that kind of company, perhaps Silverman should find a line of work where his personal life just isn't that exciting by comparison. Football, for instance. With guys like Michael Vick and Pacman Jones hogging the headlines, a little late-night partying wouldn't even register.

It's now Silverman's job to get NBC's waterlogged primetime ship stabilized, even a bit. Achieve that, and he can do whatever he wants on his own time—short of breaking into hotel rooms to steal sports memorabilia.

The season's just begun, and if network television's night owl can deliver at this high-stakes day job, anyone who spreads stories about his private life will just be blowing smoke.

E-mail your comments to ben.grossman@reedbusiness.com

 

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