I’m told NBC Universal spent a whopping $10 million on Sunday’s two-hour opener for Kings and another $4 million per episode. That’s a staggering amount of money to lavish on any drama series, especially one that’s a bomb. By now you’ve seen the ratings reports about Kings pulling in horrible numbers — a 1.6 rating/4 share in 18-49 demgraphics, and 6 million viewers overall. (ABC’s heavy hitter Desperate Housewives was No. 1 from 9PM to 10PM.) Nor does Jeff Zucker have anyone to blame but himself for this disaster. Because I hear that Ben Silverman was hands-on. Remember, please, that Ben’s predecessor at NBC Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, passed on it. But Ben picked up the script and ran with it. Some thought it should have been a mini-series, but Ben said no. Others thought the modernized Bible retelling should have had more backstory, and at one point Silverman ordered the writers to make it “more real world”. So he told them to work up a cockamamie scenario whereby the Allies never won World War II, and America went bankrupt afterwards, which meant no oil out of the Middle East, so Mexico got rich, and then… Ugh, does anybody give a shit? It was scrapped anyway.
Kings was supposed to move into the Thursday 10 PM ER slot (once coveted when the network was still Must-See TV) but has now been banished to Sunday at 8 PM where it can’t do any harm since no one is watching NBC that night anyway. This latest failure follows NBC’s derivative restaurant reality series The Chopping Block also receiving a pathetic 4 share in 18-to-49 demos for its debut Wednesday. No wonder Ben has less and less to do with programming — which was why he was hired in the first place — and more and more to do with liaising with advertisers. (Even though that job is well below his pay grade.) I have a thought: to improve his performance, NBC Universal should rebrand Silverman as Ben SYlverman. That’s more likely than Zucker ever admitting he made a mistake hiring him in the first place.