Network TV’s two biggest behind-the-scenes personalities are taking on a low profile at this summer’s TV Critics Assn. press tour.
For the first time in a decade, Eye supremo Leslie Moonves was absent when the net held its exec Q&A session with journos Tuesday. And on Sunday, when the Peacock meets the press, NBC U TV Group prexy Jeff Zucker will be standing on the sidelines.
In the case of Zucker, network insiders said NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly was keen to take on the task, making it clear that — for better or worse — he’s assuming command of the division. Skeptics might accuse Zucker of simply handing off responsibility to Reilly now that the net’s in fourth place, but several people familiar with the situation said Reilly was actually the biggest proponent of the plan.
What’s more, Zucker isn’t bailing out from the press tour. On Monday, he’ll host an informal breakfast powwow with journos who want a side of spin with their eggs.
As for Moonves, a Viacom board meeting prevented him from attending the session. But he would have deferred to CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler in any case, in much the same way UPN Entertainment prexy Dawn Ostroff will fly solo Thursday, according to insiders.
Those familiar with his thinking said Moonves is increasingly keen on letting his deputies take more control of their departments as he tends to bigger issues — like the ongoing Viacom split. Indeed, Moonves spent much of Tuesday dealing with Fred Reynolds’ decision to ankle his post as head of the company’s station group.
Like Zucker, Moonves is planning to schmooze the media, flying back from New York tonight to attend a dinner in Beverly Hills featuring a slew of execs from his various divisions.