After months of speculation, it now seems likely FX Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly will be leaving the Fox-owned cabler.
Just where he’ll end up remains the question of the moment in TV land, though industry buzz Tuesday had the exec headed to NBC.
Here’s what’s known: Reilly spent Tuesday in New York meeting with NBC topper Bob Wright, Peacock programming chief Jeff Zucker and several other NBC execs.
While no deals have been offered or negotiated, the Peacock is apparently interested in bringing Reilly on board in a senior programming post, perhaps running NBC Studios.
Reilly would then become a leading candidate to replace Zucker as prexy of NBC Entertainment if and when Zucker moved back to New York, or took on a larger role at the net.
While TV industry types were buzzing about Reilly and NBC, insiders insisted that much of the talk was premature. NBC hasn’t formally offered Reilly a deal, and Reilly hasn’t completely closed the door on other potential gigs, including the top programming post at Showtime.
And some say not to count out FX, noting Reilly retains solid relationships with News Corp. execs and could yet be persuaded to stay within the corporate fold.
Also up in the air: how a Reilly appointment would affect NBC Studios prexy Ted Harbert or other Peacock programmers like exec VP Karey Burke. With his contract up at the Peacock, Harbert’s departure has been rumored for months, but NBC execs insist no decisions have been made.
Harbert — no stranger to exec shuffle rumors, having endured a great deal of them as ABC Entertainment topper in the mid-1990s when Jamie Tarses joined the Alphabet web — kept his humor about potential changes.
“I’m just thrilled to be back in the spotlight,” Harbert quipped. “With a little luck this will last longer than Harbert/Tarses ’96.”
What seems clear is that Reilly may be ready for an amicable split from FX following a very productive marriage.
Exec, along with FX topper Peter Ligouri, has put the cabler on the map with distinctive skeins such as “The Shield” and “Lucky.” It may simply be that Reilly feels ready to play in a bigger sandbox.
After joining FX in August 2000, Reilly helped breathe new life into the floundering basic cabler, which had become a low-rated depository for 20th Century Fox off-net series.
Ligouri recruited Reilly to develop shows that would essentially remake the net into a basic cable version of HBO.
Hence FX’s gritty Emmy-winning drama “The Shield,” and more recently, the John Corbett Vegas-set dramedy “Lucky.”
In particular, “The Shield” put FX on the map as a basic cable destination for original series. It was a far cry from FX’s origins as the home to live, public access-style shows like “The Pet Department.”
Reilly has, however, experienced a few missteps at the network too: FX had committed to 13 episodes of original series “Bad News, Mr. Swanson,” which was revamped, recast and then dropped when Jeremy Piven left the show.
And despite the buzz, “The Shield” has seen its ratings drop in season two.
The Peacock gig would rep a sort of homecoming for Reilly, who spent six years at NBC from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. He joined NBC in 1988 as a manager of creative affairs, helping develop the teen hit “Saved by the Bell.”
Reilly eventually worked his way up to VP of drama development and had a hand in the beginnings of skeins such as “Homicide” and “ER.”
The exec then joined Brillstein-Grey Communications (now Brad Grey TV) in 1994, eventually becoming the president of TV in 1999. Reilly helped build Brillstein-Grey’s television operations, working on hits such as “The Sopranos,” “NewsRadio” and “Just Shoot Me.”
Reilly started his career working on music videos and commercials in New York as a production coordinator. He also serves as prexy of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society.
Reps for Reilly, including attorney Ernie Del, were unavailable for comment. An FX spokesman also declined comment.
(Jill Feiwell contributed to this report.)