Comcast prepared to give Ted Harbert big NBC job
Comcast's Steve Burke has been putting the finishing touches on his new managment team, which would install two veteran programmers -- Bob Greenblatt and Ted Harbert -- to run the troubled broadcast network. Each would report to Burke.
Harbert came into the fore in the last three weeks after conversations with former CBS executive Nancy Tellem fell apart because she would not take the job unless she could oversee programming.
Greenblatt, Showtime's former president of entertainment, would be NBC's chief programmer. Sources said that Harbert, who is currently running Comcast's Los Angeles-based channels including E!, would be given responsibility for the business side of the network, including advertising sales and affiliate relations. Harbert was a longtime ABC programming executive who ran NBC's television production studio for several years before joining Comcast.
Comcast, NBC, Harbert and Greenblatt declined to comment. Burke, Comcast's chief operating officer, who will become chief executive of NBC Universal when the cable giant takes over the entertainment company, plans to travel to Los Angeles next week to announce the new NBC executive team. Comcast is awaiting the approval of federal regulators for its merger with NBC Universal. The deal is expected to close in December or early next year.
Burke has been assembling his executive team for several months. He told current NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker in September that there would be no room for him in the new organization, prompting Zucker to announce that he will depart when Comcast takes over.
Current NBC Universal cable executives Bonnie Hammer and Lauren Zalaznick would retain their current portfolios, although Hammer would also oversee the popular E! channel. The head of Universal Studios, Ron Meyer, NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol and NBC News President Steve Capus would also retain their turf, making the new NBC Universal team largely drawn from NBC's current executive team.
Pat Fili-Krushel, executive vice president of administration at Time Warner Inc. and a former president of the ABC network, is expected to be chief administrative officer.
Burke has discussed a new position with NBC Universal's current head of television, Jeff Gaspin, but any role appears to involve a significant reduction in his duties, according to several people close to the situation. Gaspin is expected to decide next week whether to take a new role or leave the company.
-- Meg James
Photo: From left to right: Bonnie Hammer of NBC, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and E chief Ted Harbert earlier this year at a Hollywood Radio & Television Society event. Credit: Angela Weiss/Getty Images.