EXCLUSIVE: This is a really fast-moving story. For months now, I’ve been asking my sources when is NBC going to give more power to real programmers since salesman Ben Silverman isn’t one. So this morning Paul Telegdy suddenly and unexpectedly resigned from BBC Worldwide America. Now I’m told NBC is in negotiations with him about overseeing unscripted entertainment and possibly scripted as well. And my sources inform that it would be Telegdy’s decision whether to fire or keep NBC’s current reality czar Craig Plestis who only has months left on his contract. Now get this: the negotiations call for Telegdy to be given a bigger job (like NBC Entertainment President which is still a vacant title) in a year or to get paid off. This could solve NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker’s primary problem right now: how not to look like he made a mistake hiring Ben Silverman and still get the programming that the network needs to start succeeding. So Zucker could re-up Silverman and at the same time hire programmers in subordinate roles.
I’m told Craig Plestis had been behind closed doors most of the day speaking to his attorney. And finally Plestis went to Ben Silverman and asked if he were being replaced by Telegdy, as insiders speculated to me today when Paul quit the BBC. Silverman told him no. A week ago, I reported that Plestis was panicking about the rumor he was being shitcanned as NBC Entertainment’s EVP of Alternative Programming, Development and Specials. (The problem was that, beyond America’s Got Talent, no recent NBC reality shows were sticking. Plestis “hasn’t done anything at all in the three years he’s been there,” one of my sources confided.)
Telegdy may or may not be able to fix NBC Entertainment’s primetime which this fall failed yet again. In an effort to sell more shows and formats to U.S. outlets, BBC Worldwide America in April streamlined its sales and production operations under Telegdy, the Beeb exec most responsible for exporting Dancing With the Stars to ABC. As the BBC Worldwide America EVP of TV sales and content & production, Telegdy was also given power for TV sales and co-production dealmaking for the U.S. division, as well as production. So his job has been to do both scripted and unscripted, which means he’d expect no less at NBC. Telegdy, who reported to BBC Worldwide America prez Garth Ancier, had been the Beeb’s point man in Los Angeles since 2004 and overseen the U.S. adaptations of Beeb hits including Dancing With the Stars and ABC’s spinoff Dance Wars: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann, NBC’s Clash of the Choirs, and CBS’ embarrassingly short-lived Viva Laughlin.
“He’s considered extemely intelligent and a master manipulator and adept at corporate politics,” one informant told me, adding, “Look out, Ben.” So Zucker may also have in hand Silverman’s replacement when, not if…