Strike Be Damned, Ben Silverman Vows to Entertain Us Himself

Photo: Courtesy of Fox

The Writers Guild strike may be crippling the television and film industries, raising fears of a possible entertainmentless 2008, but even if the worst should happen, fear not — NBC chairman Ben Silverman will fill the void himself! In a new Esquire profile, the always charming Silverman — in rare moments between partying with supermodels and white tigers and dodging mandatory company drug tests — talks candidly about his competition at the other networks:

"They're basically D-girls," he says, using the derogatory industry slang for cute young development execs with little power. "That's what [ABC Entertainment president] Steve McPherson is, that's what [Fox Entertainment president] Kevin Reilly is. That's bad vernacular, but they're all D-girls."


And, despite the company publicist that NBC insisted accompany Silverman to the interview, he continues:

"He's a moron," Silverman says of McPherson, his voice raising. "I delivered him a huge hit that he didn't want: Ugly Betty. He hated the show, he didn't want America Ferrera, he didn't understand why I pitched it to him seventeen times and wouldn't stop. Then it delivered despite that. And every time we would do well, he'd try to find some issue with it. I think he wishes he had been a producer. He's a sad man, like a miserable guy stuck operating as an executive. And it probably makes him nuts that this kid who's five years younger than him is producing hit shows and then goes and gets his job in an end run — and a much bigger job than he has." (McPherson and Reilly declined to respond; an ABC spokeswoman says Silverman's Ugly Betty story is inaccurate and distorts the way the pitch process works.)


And when Esquire's Matthew Belloni has the unmitigated gall to suggest that Silverman might not be mature enough to run a TV network, Silverman issues a bold challenge:

"Bring it on," Silverman says. "I'll play any game — intellectual, physical, or otherwise — with anyone who would ask me [the maturity] question. I'll go on Jeopardy! with them. I will play Trivial Pursuit."


So, even if the new season of Lost is canceled, 24 gets pushed back until 2010, and every movie that comes out next year is as bad as Fred Claus, the mere possibility of Ben Silverman's appearance on Jeopardy! will ensure that we not go bored. And if we do, well, he can just do more interviews.

It's Ten O'Clock. Do You Know Where Your Network President Is? [Esquire]