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Zucker Says Silverman Staying at NBC

NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker pulled off a surprising coup this week in keeping Jay Leno at NBC, and now he says he is retaining another high-profile name.

Zucker says NBC Entertainment and studio co-chairman Ben Silverman is going to sign a new deal to stay at the company.

“Ben will continue to be here at NBC, yes,” Zucker told B&C as part of a candid Q&A that runs in its entirety in the December 15 issue.

Zucker’s decision comes despite the network’s continuing primetime struggles after a fall in which none of its high profile launches, from Knight Rider to My Own Worst Enemy,caught on despite the strong promotional launch pad of a wildly-successful, record-setting Olympics from Beijing.

“Obviously it’s been a disappointing fall for NBC, and we need to do better,” Zucker says. “I take some pride in the fact that of the 10 TV shows that were nominated for Golden Globes, only three air on broadcast TV and we produce all of them [The Office and 30 Rock on NBC, as well as the Universal Media Studios-produced House for Fox]. So we obviously have some ability to produce good programs; we just need to do more."

Silverman will be working with a new upper management team that includes former NBC studio chief Angela Bromstad and former BBC exec Paul Telegdy, an executive team that takes over in place of former executive vice president Teri Weinberg, studio chief Katherine Pope and reality head Craig Plestis – none of whom will be continuing in their roles with the company after a reorganization.

And Silverman will have five fewer hours to program after the surprising news, first reported in B&C, that Jay Leno will be staying at NBC as the host of a 10 pm weeknight strip. 

NBC was widely expected to lose Leno to ABC or another competitor but impressively convinced late night’s franchise player to accept a deal to leave the day part and remain at the network.

The move has been widely lauded, with the exception of some agents and producers who aren’t thrilled at the thought of fewer hours of primetime network real estate to target.