Fred Silverman, president and chief executive officer of NBC, has removed Mike Weinblatt as president of NBC Entertainment and chief programmer for the network. Silverman will announce a successor "shortly," NBC spokesmen confirmed yesterday.
Only last week Weinblatt was making announcements about NBC's future programming plans. Silverman yesterday named him president of a new division, NBC Enterprises, responsible for sales of NBC-produced programs to foreign and domestic syndication and to new formats like video discs and videotape cassettes.
"'Fired' I don't think is the correct word," said NBC executive vice president M. S. Rukeyser Jr."This is not a firing at all. It would be stretching the term quite a bit."
Weinblatt, 50, said the change had nothing to do with the fact that NBC's ratings are not up from last year and that the network is still a solid No. 3. In fact, Weinblatt said, series ratings are up substantially over last season, and he blamed long-form bombs like "Beggarman, Thief" for dragging overall ratings down.
The change in position was his idea, Weinblatt said. "I have been living a life in the last year that has been unbelievable. I'm in California two weeks out of four, have a family that has become almost nonexistent, and my days have become blurs. You get caught in these velvet traps, and I just can't live this way."
Weinblatt referred to the network business as a "caldron" because of its high public profile and intensified competition.
And Weinblatt conceded that Silverman's own prowess as a programmer tends to eclipse whatever the NBC Entertainment president accomplishes. "That's a given," Weinblatt said. "Fred's a programmer -- and activist."
Possible successors to Weinblatt, a network source said, include West Coast program executives Perry Lafferty and Brandon Tartikoff. Weinblatt has been president of NBC Entertainment since it was spun off as a separate division in September 1978.