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Reality chief turning indie

Silverman takes back control

Reveille CEO Ben Silverman is going indie, taking back full financial control of his company and dramatically reshaping his business relationship with NBC Universal.

Silverman aims to establish Reveille as a major global distributor of reality formats, potentially putting it on a par with FremantleMedia and Endemol. Christopher Grant, newly upped to VP of international distribution and creative affairs, will lead the international push with Silverman.

Reveille was formed back before the Peacock ran U. It has done fine since the Peacock took over, but Silverman decided the arrangement — which had the Peacock controlling global distribution rights to Reveille hits like “The Biggest Loser” and “Blow Out” — no longer made sense.

NBC U topper Jeff Zucker agreed, and the two sides decided to scrap the agreement that had been in place.

“They don’t want to necessarily grow an alternative production studio,” Silverman said. “A company like GE doesn’t need to own our distribution, as long as they can still have access to shows like ‘The Biggest Loser.’ ”

Under a new pact hammered out between NBC U and Reveille, Silverman will license and market his formats and episodes of U.S.-produced skeins by himself.

What’s more, Silverman will no longer handle licensing of the NBC U format lineup for the Peacock. That job will be handled exclusively by the company via its NBC U TV Distribution unit.

Despite the global split, Peacock and its various broadcast and cable nets will get first crack at all Reveille programming intended for the U.S. market. In exchange, Reveille will keep its offices on the Universal lot under a small housekeeping deal.

“We get to stay in business with Ben and get access to his great product, and yet at the same time, we’re also encouraging Ben to be an entrepreneur,” Zucker told Daily Variety.

Silverman is clearly betting that international sales will be a primary profit engine for Reveille.

During the less than one year that his company managed the U format library, Reveille was able to close more than 50 format deals in more than 30 countries. Silverman clearly believes he can do a better job selling Reveille’s own formats than a major conglom.

Indeed, Reveille talked to several other outlets about a deal before deciding to go solo.

“My main concern was that everyone wanted to control our distribution,” he said. “I trust in our ability to exploit those rights better than anyone else in the marketplace.”

Silverman & Co. have already sold format rights to “Mom,” “30 Days” and “The Maloof Touch” internationally.

What’s more, as part of Reveille’s bid to distribute other producers’ product overseas, Silverman has set up format deals for R.J. Cutler’s “American Candidate” in Israel, Germany, Italy and Canada.

Silverman and Grant also believe their dual roles as both creative types and business execs will help Reveille in the international market.

“We’re producers,” Grant said. “When I’m speaking to these guys (from other countries), there’s a producer-producer relationship as opposed to salesman to producer.”

Silverman is keeping his exec team in place, with Howard Owens and Marc Kopps on board as senior VPs of creative affairs and Teri Weinberg serving as VP of drama and comedy.

Reveille’s packed slate includes NBC’s “The Office,” “Betty La Fea” at ABC, “30 Days” at FX, “The Maloof Touch” at Spike and new seasons of “Blow Out,” “Nashville Star” and “Date My Mom.”

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