Jeff Zucker has been fired by NBC. I don’t want to add to the vitriol being hurled in his direction but I can’t help feeling that Mr. Zucker might have had a better chance of pulling NBC Entertainment out of its tailspin had he hired a Chief Culture Officer.
It looked for a little while that he had brought Ben Silverman on board to serve in that capacity. It didn’t very long to see however that while Ben Silverman was only good at cultural import (it was he who brought The Office from Britain) and that there wasn’t much else to his game. Kath and Kim (imported from Australia) was proof, I thought, that Silverman had no ear for substantial parts of American culture.
It’s odd that a senior manager would believe himself possessed of the instincts necessary to read and seed the shifting winds of a turbulent world, especially one who had been locked in the NBC castle for the whole of his career. I am assuming he didn’t reserve to himself the right to call the shots in operations or finance. I mean, who would expect his competence to extend this far.
But when it comes to creative decisions, guys like Zucker do insist on their right to inflict their limits on the corporation. I wonder if the mandate for this sort of thing goes back to the days of the studio head, the brilliant tyrants who ran the early Hollywood studios. They presumed to make decisions, and pity the employee who crossed them.
Let us take for granted that the world is more complicated these days, and creative and strategic decisions more difficult. Let us hope that Zucker’s replacement will hire a CCO as a matter of course. (I know just the person for the job.)