Share this article

print logo

Network execs at odds

The network entertainment presidents aren't exactly household names like actors Dylan McDermott, Joshua Malina, Christopher Titus and Michael Vartan, who play four dysfunctional CEOs and friends in the promising new ABC drama, "Big Shots." But the behind-the-scenes happenings in the entertainment divisions would make for a pretty entertaining series, too.

On Wednesday, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson took the kind of big shots at new NBC Entertainment President Ben Silverman that are rarely heard around here and should get national attention.

Some network background is required to put McPherson's insults in perspective. McPherson's best friend is Kevin Reilly, who was replaced by Silverman at NBC and quickly hired as the entertainment president at Fox by another good friend, Peter Liguori. Silverman was the producer of NBC's "The Office," which Reilly championed while running NBC Entertainment.

Silverman announced here last week that he had hired Isaiah Washington, the controversial actor fired from ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" for using a homophobic slur, for several episodes of the remake of "Bionic Woman." Silverman said that he didn't understand why Washington was let go, which ABC's McPherson wasn't buying.

"I think it is kind of humorous the way Ben talked about that," McPherson told several critics after a press session here. "Listen, you guys let him off the hook. . . . It was pretty obvious what went on there. And if he was in fact talking to [Washington] before he was available, then that's inducement to breach. I don't know. He's either clueless or stupid."

McPherson continued: "I live in a different world. I live in a world where if somebody stabs your best friend in the back, you know what, I don't buy it."

Asked which aspect of Silverman's news conference was the most incredible, McPherson said: "He didn't know what went on? Is he living in a cave?" Asked what he would have asked Silverman at the news conference, McPherson said: "The idea that 'I just got here.' Kevin Reilly is the guy who stood up for 'The Office' against all opposition inside that company and in essence made [Silverman's production company]. The idea you would be able to stand up there and say, 'I just got here.' Be a man."

However, when pressed, McPherson said the personal issues among entertainment presidents wouldn't change the way they compete. But it sure might make it more fun.

During the formal news conference, McPherson didn't have a lot of news to report. He did say:

Harold Perrineau, who plays Michael (Walt's father) on "Lost," will be back next season, which starts airing in January.

The pilot of "Cavemen," the series based on the GEICO commercials, is being recast and reshot to develop the characters better.

Continuing a trend, ABC won't air any new shows in early September. Its season begins Sept. 24, with the premiere of "Dancing With the Stars."

Dana Delany ("China Beach") and Nathan Fillion ("Drive") will join "Desperate Housewives" in a story arc that McPherson said will at least last this season. e-mail:

There are no comments - be the first to comment