NBC Entertainment Chief's Future in Doubt

Will NBC Universal's president of entertainment programming, Kevin Reilly, step down? There are rumors of a shakeup. But the timing would be poor, coming as the struggling network tries to sell advertisers on its fall lineup.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NBC was in turmoil over the weekend as word leaked out of a shakeup. The network could make an announcement as early as today about a management overhaul. NPR's Kim Masters reports.

KIM MASTERS: The Peacock Network has struggled in last place for several years. Nevertheless, in March, NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker renewed network entertainment president Kevin Reilly's contract for three more years. Then last Friday, Reilly reportedly was tipped about a shakeup in the works that would strip him of power, and he asked that this deal be terminated.

Mr. STEPHEN BATTAGLIO (Senior Correspondent, TV Guide): It's extraordinarily bad timing.

MASTERS: Stephen Battaglio is a senior correspondent with TV Guide. He points out that NBC is in the midst of trying to convince advertisers to fork out more than a billion dollars for commercial time on the network's fall schedule.

Mr. BATTAGLIO: You have effectively given your primetime schedule a vote of no confidence by firing your entertainment president.

MASTERS: It appears that NBC Universal did not intend to lose Reilly at this moment, and his departure apparently set off a round of frantic politicking over the weekend.

Entertainment industry analyst Harold Vogel wonders whether this type of turmoil, along with the network's constantly lagging performance, will affect the thinking at NBC's parent company, GE.

Mr. HAROLD VOGEL (Entertainment Industry Analyst): What I might actually do is speed up the thinking at General Electric that maybe they should not hold on to this business.

MASTERS: For now, it's still unclear who will be in charge at the network, though there is speculation that Ben Silverman - the producer of such shows as "The Office" and ABC's "Ugly Betty" - will play a big role at NBC.

Kim Masters, NPR News.

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