Reveille, the independent television production/distribution company founded by Ben Silverman (now NBC entertainment chief) six years ago, and recently sold by him to Elisabeth Murdoch for $125 million, is at a crossroads.
Whether friend or foe--and Silverman has plenty of both in the television business--he was the idea guy. He was the guy with the international contacts, having spent several years prior to starting Reveille as head of the international division of William Morris in London. He was very young, totally happening--and he got Reveille onto the networks' radar screens. He was also the mentor of the four managing directors he left behind to run to company. So now Howard Owens, Chris Grant and Mark Koops--three execs he brought over from William Morris when he started Reveille, along with Lee Rierson, who joined from ABC at the outset--have to step up.
Network executives who are not fans of Silverman--none of whom would speak for attribution--say his departure is a chance for Reveille to begin doing business with their networks anew. "No Reveille business has been pitched to us this year," says one network honcho. "But I like Liz Murdoch so I would hear a pitch from Reveille now."
In fact, there are a number of network executives who are actually pulling for the Owens-Grant-Koops-Rierson team to take the company beyond where Silverman brought it before his departure. But while the quartet are clearly confident in their abilities, they still hold their former boss and mentor in high regard.
"Ben created this company," Owens says. "He was a workhorse. He had a good gut for knowing what shows people like. He told us what formats to go after. And we followed his lead." The "challenge and the fun," he adds, "is trying to do it on our own."