Company Town

The business behind the show

« Previous Post | Company Town Home | Next Post »

NBC vets Ebersol and Michaels can give Comcast a history lesson

January 27, 2011 | 12:02 pm

About every six weeks, Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, and Lorne Michaels, the veteran executive producer of "Saturday Night Live," get together for dinner. The dinners are not, Ebersol swears, "two old geezers talking about how glorious it used to be" back in the day.

EBERSOL2 Not only do Ebersol and Michaels have long ties to each other -- dating back to their days creating "Saturday Night Live" -- the two are among a handful of senior NBC executives left with links to the network going back almost 40 years.

Both also had an influence far greater than their respective titles belie at the company. Ebersol has held a variety of posts during his tenure at NBC in both entertainment and sports and has served as a confidante for previous bosses Bob Wright and Jeff Zucker. Besides keeping "Saturday Night Live" going, Michaels was instrumental in the rise of Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon and is an executive producer on NBC's "30 Rock." 

In other words, its Michaels and Ebersol who know the history of the place and the dirt that's not in the corporate files.

Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke, who is taking the reins of NBC Universal as its new CEO, has already spent some time picking their brains, according to Ebersol.

The talks, Ebersol said, have allowed Burke to "get a sense of how things have been over a long period of time" and "how things worked." Ebersol said Burke "knows just about every issue."

Having been at NBC from the days of RCA ownership through General Electric Co. and now Comcast, Ebersol indicated the days ahead are "going to be one of the most unique events that will unfold for the two old veterans."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Dick Ebersol. Credit: Jim Ruymen / Reuters