Last week, Slate's Kim Masters reported that NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker was starting to discover that the brash up-and-comer he'd just handpicked might be, to use the most delicate terms possible, a "voracious party animal." Today, in diving deep into All Things Ben Silverman, DHD's Nikki Finke discusses at length TV's leading Colombian tetas importer's "liberal attitudes towards marijuana use," noting that a delay in the completion of his NBC deal could put off the ceremonial turnover of his urine sample until after the Fourth of July holiday, giving Silverman plenty of time to clear his golden stream of THC. Rather than embrace the positive and take this alleged affinity for the bong (there is absolutely no truth to the rumor we just made up that Silverman tried to rename NUTS as 420 Studios before being forced to go with the safer Universal Media Studios by a mellow-harshing suit) as a sign that their new executive isn't a narc trying to take down the entire network from the inside, Zucker has apparently chosen to fret about the situation. Reports Finke:
I'm told that "GE is not going to fool around with this, these are serious issues" regarding drug taking. My understanding is that Jeff Zucker heard the rumors of Silverman's marijuana use only after he handpicked him. So the boss told the exec that couldn't be tolerated. "Once you start being paid, you can't do that, Ben. It's illegal," Silverman described the conversation to someone. In response, Silverman apparently offered to "pee into a cup" right there and then but wasn't askedThis constrasts with Silverman's own talk on the subject. He has readily claimed he never "did blow". But on the subject of marijuana, I understand he tells people that he's "35, and single, and wears hemp sneakers and pot leaf designers, and has parents who were hippies, and loves Cheech and Chong." I'm also told he often describes his marijuana use within the context of "a major member of the artistic community" and "the culture of fun in the creative community" on a par with being one of People magazine's most eligible bachelors and having best friends who are actors and directors. He also points out that he lives in Santa Monica, which recently passed a bill to move marijuana smoking to the bottom of the police priority list, essentially decriminalizing it. I'm told that, at the same time, he has said he "wouldn't care if my employees smoked dope on the weekend instead of drinking a highball".
Even if he never "did the blow," Silverman should take care not to alienate the industry's ubiquitous cocaine enthusiasts; for NBC to truly evolve into a pure "culture of fun," there needs to be an acceptance for all types of party people, whether they find inspiration in meticulously chopped, perfectly parallel lines or an expertly rolled joint.