Inside Move: Silverman ankles ABC

Exec will return to producing

Fred Silverman has left the building — again.

With his contract as network consultant up, the programming legend quietly parted ways with ABC in mid-May. Silverman, who spent much of the last two years at the web he originally brought to prominence in the late 1970s, will return to producing.

Silverman called his second tenure at ABC “a lot of fun” but admitted that this go-round at the low-rated net was “challenging.”

“It was kind of like working in a Turkish bath,” Silverman said. “There were a lot of highs and some lows, and a mixed bag in terms of results. But I’m glad I did it. It got me updated on the whole network situation, and I left there learning a lot more about what it’s like to run a network today.”

Silverman was originally brought in by Disney honcho Michael Eisner, as the network looked to re-create its glory days. But his addition added to the criticism that the network was stymied by too many people calling the shots. Silverman later moved to consult for the ABC Cable Networks group under Anne Sweeney, returning for another round at ABC when Sweeney took control of the broadcast web this spring.

Comparing his tours of duty in the network game, Silverman said the competition is clearly much more fierce today than it was during his experience in the 1960s and ’70s.

“On the other hand, the standards for success are not what they were,” he marveled. “When I was at the networks, if a show got a share less than 30, it was canceled. Now if you get a 30 share, they’ll build a monument for you.”

Silverman — who remains the only exec ever to have run all three original networks — said he has no plans to continue consulting. He has several projects in the works, including one for the digital TV arena.

“There’s something about producing your own things, your own projects, in that you’re a master of your own space,” he said. “Here, a good consultant has to be Henry Kissinger — and I don’t know if I have the accent.”

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