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That capped a period during which Silverman began missing meetings, canceling appointments and forgetting callbacks, allegedly because of too many late nights when he had partied hearty. For some time, Endeavor talent agency owner Ari Emanuel had been counseling his pal to tone down this over-the-top behavior — like last spring, when both men were attending a cancer-research benefit dinner where more than one eyewitness confirmed to me that Silverman appeared to be “high as a kite.” Emanuel reminded Silverman that the very next morning there was a big meeting about an important piece of Marvel Studios business between Endeavor and NBC, and Emanuel warned Silverman not to be late. The next day, Silverman was a no-show.
Though Endeavor does 75 percent of its TV business with NBC, Emanuel didn’t hesitate to complain directly to Zucker — and the conversation focused on Silverman’s overindulgence with alcohol and drugs. Alarmed, Zucker instructed Universal boss Ron Meyer to determine if Silverman still wanted to work at NBC. As it happened, Meyer took Silverman to lunch at the studio at the same time Emanuel was there with Uni film chief Marc Shmuger.
In full view of everyone, a shouting match ensued: Silverman belligerently blamed Emanuel for getting him in trouble with his boss, Emanuel aggressively shot back that it was justified, and neither man backed down. Meanwhile, at lunch with Meyer, Silverman said he wasn’t interested in quitting despite his newfound fortune, so Meyer reported that back to Zucker.
Silverman by all accounts shaped up and buckled down for weeks after. But then his work ethic became erratic again.
To be fair to Silverman, attending the Beijing Olympics was a command performance for all NBC and GE brass. But almost every other top TV executive would have hurried back after a week, tops, to supervise production of the fall schedule. There’s general agreement that the one scripted NBC show that looks good is Kings, and the rest are going to be ratings disasters. Adding to this notion that the network’s prime-time is in creative free fall are repeated reshoots (like on Kath and Kim) and show runners stepping down or being pushed aside (like on My Own Worst Enemy, the Christian Slater series). That Silverman chose to stay away despite all this speaks volumes about his lack of commitment to his job. And that he was vacationing with Elisabeth Murdoch was like a shout-out to the TV community that he’s looking for a graceful way out.
I’m told that NBC is hoping Silverman jumps before he is pushed. His contract, like Weinberg’s, expires next summer. But Silverman’s posse is letting it be known that he may start negotiating his out before December. His reasoning, according to insiders, is that if by some miracle this fall’s prime-time schedule succeeds, he’d like to go out “a hero.” And if it tanks, he doesn’t want to go out “a failure” and get fired.