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'Fessing up

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2005

How tough are things for NBC? Well, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly's opening remarks today had several references to the, uh, bottom line.

Matter-of-factly beginning with the admission that NBC is in fourth place with its target audience, Reilly went on to say, '"The kick in the ass is going to get us back on our game. ...

"Last season for us was kind of like a colonic. It wasn't a lot of fun to go through at the time, but it's going to be healthy in the long run.

"It literally took any residual sense of entitlement or complacency at our company -- and blew it out.''

That's a startling admission from NBC, which has swaggered even when its fortunes seemed to be slipping. And it's another reason to like Reilly.

Still relatively new in his current job, Reilly has a good reputation from his tenure at FX, where he helped bring things like ''The Shield'' to audiences. He enhanced that reputation with his forthrightness.

The biggest problem in his presentation was the use of what I think of as a ''Zucker prompter'' -- a gigantic, back-of-the-room screen scrolling prepared remarks, favored by Reilly's predecessor and now boss, Jeff Zucker. It brings some woodenness to comments, including Reilly's; he relaxed more once he was off the prompter and settling into give-and-take with reporters.

Too bad the shows he's pushing aren't better.

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