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Corporate Press Release Theater: Ben Silverman To Stop Selling Shows to Self

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Here at Corporate Press Release Theater, we usually tend to skip over eyeball-glazing releases from production studios about business transactions. This one, about the sale of hugely successful series-importer Reveille (The Office, Ugly Betty) is an exception because of its implications: Ben Silverman, founder of Reveille, will no longer be able to sell programs to Ben Silverman, programming chief of NBC.

Excerpts from the release after the jump:

London – Shine today announced it had completed the acquisition of leading US production and distribution company Reveille, which joins the Shine Group of companies.

The deal sees Reveille’s senior management team of Chris Grant, Mark Koops, Howard T. Owens and Lee Rierson remain at the company. Reveille founder Ben Silverman left the company last year to become co-Chairman at NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, although he remains a producer on all of the movies and television shows started under his watch.

[Lengthy quotes on how this is a wonderful deal that will make everybody involved a great big pile of coin redacted.]

The pre-eminent US independent production company in both scripted and reality programming, Reveille was originally founded by Ben Silverman in 2003. The LA-based firm’s scripted hits such as ‘Ugly Betty’, ‘The Office’ and ‘The Tudors’ complement a non-scripted catalogue that also includes worldwide hits ‘The Biggest Loser,’ ‘Date My Mom,’ ‘Nashville Star’ and ‘American Gladiators’.

Let’s freeze-frame there. It’s hard to argue that many of the aforementioned shows are hits that a lot of networks would be glad to have, and that Silverman was smart to develop them. It is also hard to ignore that some of these shows–e.g., Nashville Star and Gladiators—were signed up by NBC while Ben Silverman was calling the shots there. Reveille also just cut a deal with NBC to adapt the dark Australian sitcom Kath and Kim.

As the LA Times’ Meg James notes, NBC has said it avoided conflicts of interest, through a process involving Jeff Zucker also being involved in acquisition decisions and, I don’t know, maybe Ben Silverman putting on a funny nose and glasses and asking to be called “Sil Benverman” when dealing with the production company he founded.

James also reports that NBC “will continue to review all Reveille projects because of Silverman’s ties to [Elisabeth] Murdoch [Rupert's daughter and Shine's owner] and the possibility that he may someday return to the company.” So I guess they should hang on to the funny nose and glasses.

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