Jeffgaspin1 Count Jeff Gaspin among the legion of TV execs who attended the Brandon Tartikoff Conservatory.

Gaspin, who was promoted to the uber-TV gig at NBC Universal on Monday as Ben Silverman shipped out, was sent out to Burbank to study with Tartikoff for a few months after he got his first programming job at the Peacock, in the news division. Then-NBC News prexy Michael Gartner was impressed with Gaspin's genuine love of television, something he'd had since he was a kid growing up in Queens.

Gaspin never thought of TV as a career, however, until he was in his final days of the MBA program at New York U. He was leafing through a job recruiting book and saw a page of openings at NBC. Until then, he figured he was headed for the strategic consultant route at a big firm like Towers Perrin or McKinsey & Co.

But once he realized that he could actually "get a job at a company I watched every day," he was hooked. He didn't get the first job he applied for at NBC, but two months later he was hired to price spots for the O&O divisions.

Gaspin had been a production finance exec working on NBC's East Coast-based shows, but what he really wanted to do was … program. Gartner, according to Gaspin, told him that he was one of the few in the news division who "actually watches television," and that appreciation would come in handy as NBC News developed the newsmag that became "Dateline NBC."

Shortly after Gaspin made the leap to veep of programming and development, Gartner introduced him to NBC Sports guru Dick Ebersol, who suggested that Gaspin make the pilgrimage to Burbank to learn at the knee of Tartikoff.

"I went from a decent job in finance to working in programming and being mentored by a god," Gaspin says. "The rest is history."

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