NEW YORK - Struggling NBC is expected to oust its top entertainment executive, Kevin Reilly, and replace him with the man who helped bring "The Office" and "Ugly Betty" to American television, an executive close to the talks said Monday.
Ben Silverman, a former talent agent who runs Reveille Productions, could be named to a new post overseeing NBC's entertainment operations as early as Tuesday, said the executive, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the action was still pending.
Reilly would be out after four years at NBC, despite signing a new three-year contract in February.
An NBC Universal spokesman, Cory Shields, would not comment Monday.
NBC recorded two of its least-watched weeks ever this spring, and it is a distant fourth in the ratings behind CBS, ABC and Fox. The adventure tale "Heroes" became a moderate hit for NBC, and Howie Mandel's "Deal or No Deal" delivers consistently, but the rest of the schedule isn't drawing an audience.
NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup, which includes "The Office" and "My Name is Earl," gets high marks critically but doesn't deliver a mass audience.
Advertising executives reacted cooly to the new shows when NBC released its fall schedule earlier this month. It includes a remake of "The Bionic Woman" and no new comedies.
Riley's fate was reportedly sealed when NBC Universal became interested in working with Silverman.
The executive recast "The Office" for an American audience, winning an Emmy Award for best comedy last year. "Ugly Betty" became a modest hit for ABC. Silverman also helped make "Nashville Star" for USA and "Date My Mom" for MTV, and developed a specialty for successfully importing programming ideas from outside of the United States.