Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning producer Ben Silverman recently announced a partnership with media mogul Barry Diller to launch Electus, a company that capitalizes on the ever-evolving world of multimedia production and distribution.
Silverman is the executive producer of the NBC comedy “The Office” and the Golden Globe-winning comedy “Ugly Betty.” His list of producing credits also includes the hits “The Biggest Loser,” Showtime’s “The Tudors,” “The Restaurant” and Bravo’s “Blow Out.” Prior to helming Electus, Silverman served as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, and led the network with successful programming including “30 Rock,” “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and “The Jay Leno Show.” Silverman’s philanthropic endeavors include Seeds of Peace, Cedars-Sinai Hospital and Best Buddies. And, to show he isn’t all work and no play, People magazine selected him for its sexiest entertainment executive under “Sexy A-Z.”
ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?
BEN SILVERMAN: How do you get the Palestinians back to the peace table? What strategies do you have to hold nations more accountable for both their actions and their inability to act to protect basic human rights? Taking the Middle East peace process as the paramount example, it’s easy to point fingers, and place blame, but how do you use American influence and power — be it economic, diplomatic or cultural, to not only target and work through the underlying problems, but to also embolden foreign leaders to demand honest peace negotiations with real implications that ultimately can lead to lasting solutions?
RB: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?
BS: Repeal the fin-syn laws to help create a stronger independent sector in the media business that will create jobs, opportunity and diversity of voice.
RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?
BS: How do you stay focused, with so many different issues all requiring immediate attention?
RB: What book would you offer to lend President Obama? Why?
BS: Start Up Nation, because it shows how government can stimulate business without being heavy-handed.
RB: If you were going to send the president to one place in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?
BS: Tribeca and the empty space where the Twin Towers stood. Sept. 11 stands as a common denominator, reminding Americans of our shared experience and identities. Our country is at its best when our president is respected and admired in the world, which is achieved through uniting individuals and motivating them to willingly participate in contributing to the greater national good. 9/11 motivated us to remember what our country exemplifies and the importance of protecting each other and our freedoms … never forget.
RB: Would you ever consider a political career?
BS: Politics seems to be such a difficult field to enter because of how partisan and vitriolic it has become. It is a sad commentary when governors get chastised for going to World Series games, or mayors are not allowed a vacation. We need the best and the brightest, and I worry it would be hard to sacrifice so much to run for office … but all that being said … I am focused on public service every day as a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth. The choice our capitalist democracy enables is truly spectacular and needs to be our message to the world.