'I Didn't Mean to Elicit Laughter': NBC Exec Discusses Ben Silverman, Late Night


NBC's executive panel at this morning's TCA press tour started off tensely with the requisite Silverman departure question. When NBCU's President of Primetime Entertainment Angela Bromstad explained his sudden exit by saying, "I think that this has always been Ben's plan, to transition back to his entrepreneurial roots," the packed ballroom erupted in a symphony of snickers. Bromstad, puzzled, continued, "I didn't mean to elicit laughter."

After a critic asked her to comment on The Jay Leno Show, Bromstad uncomfortably referred them to this afternoon's Leno panel. Another critic immediately followed up, explaining that he did not think it was out of line to ask the President of Primetime about their 10 PM program, specifically about what would determine the Leno investment a success. Bromstad reluctantly replied:

"I think what is going to be a success later is going to be the 52 cumulative rating on his show. [...] It is a marathon. It's not going to be determined in the first five days of the show."

Referring to NBC's declaration that Conan O'Brien is the new 'King of Late Night' because of his win in the 18-49 demographic:

"We sell the 18-49 demo. That is the business we're in. [...] We're going to declare victories when we have them."

A final comment on Ben Silverman:

"The great thing about Ben is he is so positive, incredibly supportive of me, he's hugely invested in our fall schedule and he's been very invested in the Leno launch."

The critics now have six hours to come up with new ways to ask Leno himself, "How will your new show be different than The Tonight Show?"