WILL SILVERMAN'S DEPARTURE SUCCOR NBC?

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker's decision finally to remove Ben Silverman from running NBC was greeted with shouts of "What took you so long?" from several bloggers and newspaper TV columnists. But Zucker continued to defend his decision to hire Silverman two years ago. "Ben wasn't a traditional choice," he told today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times. "But he brought us a lot of new ways of thinking about the business. ... Although that wasn't readily apparent, it was very helpful to us." But some critics argued that Silverman's "new ways of thinking" brought the fabled television network to a virtual collapse, with Jeff Gaspin, who has successfully guided the company's cable networks, being called upon to perform rescue operations. Without offering specific plans for a change in course, Gaspin told the Times: "None of us are happy with the position that NBC is in. ... During the next few months I will spend a lot of time and put a lot of energy into getting NBC ready for the fall launches so we can make it shine once again." Some local NBC station executives suggested that Gaspin had nowhere else to go than up. "Hopefully someone else with a more creative approach and a new set of eyes can create two or three breakout hits for us," KSHB Kansas City General Manager Craig Allison told Broadcasting & Cable.

REVAMPED MILLIONAIRE RETURNING FOR 2-WEEK RUN

ABC is bringing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire back to primetime for a two-week special run from August 9-23, the network announced Monday. It's also bringing back the show's original host, Regis Philbin. "ABC's 10th anniversary edition of 'Millionaire' will celebrate everything that viewers loved about the original, combined with the major improvements to the game play after seven successful years in syndication," the network said in a news release. "In addition, as a brand new feature of the return of prime time 'Millionaire,' every episode will culminate with a celebrity playing one question for $50,000 to benefit their charity of choice. The lineup of celebrity players will be announced at a later date."

ABC REPORTEDLY LEAVES COUPLE STRANDED

The couple whose wedding video showing them dancing down the aisle became a YouTube hit said Monday that ABC had canceled their airfare and halted further payment on their hotel room after they agreed to appear not only on ABC's Good Morning America but also on NBC's Today show. We've been kicked out of our room," Kevin Heinz told the New York Post, adding, "New York is cutthroat, that's what we've learned." But NBC immediately offered itself up as a white knight, agreeing to pay the fees that ABC had withdrawn. An NBC spokesperson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press it would be "more than happy to make up for our competitor's bad manners.

WASHINGTON POST EXPANDING TV COVERAGE

While many newspapers are contracting their coverage of television, the Washington Post announced today (Tuesday) that they are expanding theirs, effective August 10. Tom Shales, the Post's regular TV columnist will be expanding his beat as the newspaper's newly appointed "culture critic." His column will be augmented by a Web chat and blog, the newspaper said. Hank Stuever will be taking over as the paper's new daily television critic. Finally, Lisa de Moraes, who covers the TV industry, is also being given a new blog "that will allow her to break her stories faster." The new team, the Post said, "will ensure that our readers know and understand one of the most powerful forces shaping our culture today."