NBC execs dodge critics’ bullets

Although advertisers are questioning whether NBC’s summer reality shows Fear Factor and Spy TV are drawing upscale audiences, NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa maintains that viewership is “consistent with the kind of audience we’ve had.” As reported by Friday’s Wall Street Journal, Sassa told reporters Thursday at the semiannual critics tour in Pasadena that, although the two shows have performed well with high-income viewers, “It is not as easy as selling The West Wing and Law & Order.” NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, who appeared with Sassa, and, as a joke, wore a bulletproof vest, also suggested that the two reality series appeal primarily to 18- to 34-year-olds. “I’m not sure that that segment of the audience is necessarily represented in this room,” he remarked. Lisa de Moraes, the Washington Post TV critic who was present, asked Sassa how old the top execs were at NBC in Burbank, and when he replied that he didn’t know, de Moraes took it upon herself to research the matter herself. In Friday’s column she publishes the ages of each of the top NBC execs, noting that only one, primetimes series development chief Karey Burke, falls into the demo at age 34. The average age of the others is 45.