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Living the Dream

Living the DreamTufts graduate and Hollywood producer Ben Silverman—the newly named head of NBC’s television and entertainment business—has landed what he calls his “dream job.”

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.04.07] In an executive-level shakeup that has the media world abuzz, Tufts graduate Ben Silverman was tapped on May 29 to take over NBC’s television and entertainment business. The creative force behind American small-screen successes like ABC’s “Ugly Betty” and NBC’s “The Office,” Silverman has a proven talent for producing TV hits—a skill the struggling network seeks to put to the test.

I always thought this was something that Ben was born to do,” NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer Jeff Zucker told The New York Times, adding that NBC had to move quickly to scoop up Silverman, whose track record as a successful former agent and independent producer had caught the eye of other networks as well. “I knew if I wanted this to happen, I had to act now,” Zucker said.

The 36-year-old, described by the Times as “one of the hottest young production talents in television,” will head NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio along with Marc Graboff, the former president of NBC Universal Television, West Coast. According to the newspaper, the co-chairmen will oversee NBC’s prime-time, late-night and daytime programming, the entertainment division’s digital programming and business operations for the two groups.

Silverman will take the lead on the creative end, focusing on programming, scheduling and marketing, Graboff, 51, told the Washington Post. An attorney with an extensive background in business affairs, Graboff added in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the divide of responsibilities “is fairly instinctual.” He said the pair, which replaced NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, has “complementary, overlapping skill sets.”

NBC—which finished with low ratings this year for the fourth year in a row—is hoping it has found the right team to lift the network out of its post-“Friends” and “Seinfeld” rut. If his track record is any indication—Silverman helped to bring reality hits like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Big Brother” and “The Biggest Loser” to American television—he may be the right man for the job.

“I want to find big shows that are quality shows,” Silverman told the Associated Press. "To me, the hallmark will be quality with noise."

Before founding his own production company, Reveille, in 2002, Silverman worked as a talent agent for William Morris, where he became the youngest division head in the company’s history. The 1992 Tufts graduate who studied history on the Hill spent his early days in the entertainment industry developing sitcoms and live action projects for Marvel Entertainment.

When Silverman left Tufts and headed to Hollywood, he did so “with one wool suit and an un-air-conditioned Volkswagen in what was the hottest summer on record,” his mother recalled in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. Mary Silverman said her son was pursuing a longtime goal—to follow in the footsteps of Brandon Tartikoff, the famed NBC executive who brought to life classic programs such as “Family Ties,” “Miami Vice” and “The Cosby Show.”

“From the age of 10, Ben always wanted to be the head of NBC,” Mary Silverman told the Los Angeles Times.

A few short decades later, Silverman, who will be recognized for his achievements in the entertainment field in early June at Tufts’third annual P.T. Barnum Awards, achieved that goal.

He told the Los Angeles Times, “It was a dream job for me.”

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