Top NBC execs mostly safe in new Comcast regime

The Comcast-NBCU picture is becoming clearer, with reporting over the weekend that Comcast would make an executive announcement next Monday, Nov. 15, and then proceeding to pull the rug out from under Comcast PR by reporting almost all of the possible news that could be made on that day.

Both Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions (USA, SyFy, Chiller, Sleuth, Universal HD) and Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks (Bravo, Oxygen, iVillage) will remain on board, reports our friend Claire Atkinson in today’s NY Post. Zalaznick, who had been allegedly talking to MTV about a top position there, already has signed a new employment contract with Comcast-NBC, reports several papers.

There had been speculation that either Hammer or Zalaznick would have to go, but it appears that Comcast COO Steve Burke, who recently said that choosing between the two women was like choosing between two A-students, ended up taking his own advice and finding a way to keep both.

It also looks like Jeff Shell, president of the Comcast Programming Group, will remain with the company, taking a post in London to head international operations, according to Earlier rumors suggested that Shell would join former Disney CEO Michael Eisner in heading Tribune Co., but those rumors have not panned out and Tribune is currently headed by a team of four in light of Randy Michaels’ recent departure.

Another top Comcast cable programmer, Ted Harbert, also appears to be staying on, gaining more responsibilities besides overseeing Comcast’s E! and Style Networks. Deadline notes the irony that Harbert, who was fired by Jeff Zucker in 2003, is now back in the NBC exec ranks, while it’s Zucker’s turn to be out.

NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin is being considered as head of TV operations, a job that Randy Falco once held, although Deadline reports that Nancy Tellem, Leslie Moonves’ former top lieutenant at CBS, also is being considered.

The fate of Marc Graboff, president of West Coast Business Operations, is unclear. Graboff always has operated behind the scenes at NBC, quietly making deals in the background and staying out of the press, while other NBC execs – Jeff Zucker, Ben Silverman, Kevin Reilly – have taken the spotlight as well as the hits.

Meanwhile, it seems all but certain that Robert Greenblatt, credited with bringing Showtime back to life, will be the new head of NBC Entertainment.

Steve Capus and Dick Ebersol will continue to head up NBC News and Sports, respectively, with Deadline reporting that Comcast is very high on Ebersol. “They think he’s a brilliant operator and their savior. They’ll pickle him if they can,” said one of Deadline’s unnamed sources.

Meanwhile, the Comcast-NBC deal has not yet closed, with the government still reviewing the deal.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.