Big-time TV producer and briefly calamitous NBC honcho Fred Silverman has passed at age 82.
Wiki excerpt: “Although Silverman’s tenure at ABC was very successful, he left to become President and CEO of NBC in 1978. In stark contrast with his tenures at CBS and ABC, his three-year tenure at the network proved to be a difficult period, marked by several high-profile failures such as the sitcom Hello, Larry, the variety shows The Big Show and Pink Lady, the drama Supertrain (which also was, at the time, the most expensive TV series produced; its high production costs nearly bankrupted NBC), and the Jean Doumanian era of Saturday Night Live.
Silverman hired Doumanian after Al Franken, the planned successor for outgoing Lorne Michaels, castigated Silverman’s failures on-air in a way that Silverman took very personally.
John Belushi impersonated Silverman on Saturday Night Live at least once if not twice. One of the Silverman bits (a recurring bit, as I recall) happened in ’78, but I can’t find any video. A clip was on this imasportsphile.com page, but it’s been removed or blocked.
Wiki excerpt: “A Limo For A Lame-O” is a commentary delivered by Al Franken during “Weekend Update” on the May 10, 1980, episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Using the framework of his own desire to have a limousine drive him to and from his job at NBC, the network which broadcasts the program, Franken attacked network president Fred Silverman for NBC’s poor showing in the Nielsen ratings during his tenure. It has been called “one of the meanest acts of character assassination in…well, the history of character assassination.”
“Silverman, who had not been informed of the commentary beforehand due to a series of communication failures, was furious. He believed that SNL producer Lorne Michaels, who was in the midst of negotiating a new contract, had orchestrated it as revenge for Silverman’s failure to attend a meeting with Michaels to discuss those talks the previous day.
“After hundreds of letters and postcards were delivered to Silverman’s office the following Monday, he refused to accept a letter of apology offered by Franken, whom he said later he’d never liked to begin with.”