It recently came to my attention that Ben Silverman was asked to give a keynote address at this year’s MIPTV Conference in Cannes, France on April 13, 2010. Realizing that Ben is a very busy man (what with single-handedly changing the media landscape… again), I have taken the liberty of drafting his keynote address for him.
Based on everything I know about him through interviews and presentations, etc., I have attempted to write the speech in a style he would find the most comfortable.
Ben Silverman – Founder and CEO of the new multimedia company Electus – a groundbreaking partnership with media mogul Barry Diller’s leading interactive company IAC.
(As the lights dim, a low hum emits from somewhere, smoke machines fill the stage with a heavy mist. A lightning bolt appears to strike the back of the stage followed by a thunderclap – leaving the silhouette of… A MAN.)
BOOMING VOICE OVER: Since the dawn of time, only one man has had the balls to change the world. To change the way we think, we feel, we speak. To change the way we laugh, the way we cry. The guts to change 10pm programming on broadcast networks. His name… is Ben.
(A pin spotlight pulls out to reveal BEN SILVERMAN in all his glory – sunglasses, suit that he probably slept in with the tie loosened – unshaven. He points to the sky as another lightning bolt shoots out of his finger. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by The Scorpions screams from the speakers as he floats magically toward the podium on a hydraulic saucer.)
All is silent (except, I imagine, for the thunderous applause from the lucky MIPTV crowd).
Ben Silverman: Yeah… all right… good morning Cannes. Hell of a town you got here. I don’t know what kind of poison you serve in your bars, but you fuckers got me drunk!
Ricky Van Veen: You got that shit right! Whooo!
Ben Silverman: Before I get started, how about a shout out for my little pissant buddy over there, Notional Founder and CEO Ricky Van Veen!
(There is a smattering of applause and bunch of “who the fuck is that” looks throughout the crowd.)
Ben Silverman: All right, all right… Let’s get going. It’s really great to be here at the MIPTV conference. What the hell does ‘MIP’ mean anyway? Nobody seems to know.
Ricky Van Veen: Damn straight on that one, cat daddy!
Ben Silverman: Can it, Ricky.
Ricky Van Veen: I get it “Cannes”! That’s where we are! Freakin’ hilarious, boss.
Ben Silverman: Shut the fuck up, Ricky.
Ricky Van Veen: Sorry, daddy-o.
Ben Silverman: (holding up a cocktail) And I said more vodka than tomato juice, bitch.
Ricky Van Veen: Sorry bout dat.
(Ricky comes on stage and takes Ben’s drink to freshen it up.)
Ben Silverman: Anyway… Now we’re cruising. You guys (and ladies) are all International Television folk, right? Excellent. How’s business? It’s great to see the Polish TV delegation out there.
(There is applause from a delegation of Polish Television Executives.)
Ben Silverman: The last I heard from you guys in Poland, you were dealing with the problems of screen doors on your submarines, right? And I heard your library was closed because someone stole THE BOOK! Am I right? Anway, I see you guys have television now. Welcome to the 20th century! Next stop, the internet!
(A screen behind Ben descends from the ceiling revealing his PowerPoint presentation. The light envelops him in a Christ-like glow. The first slide is Ben Silverman’s professional timeline.)
Ben Silverman: After I created “The Office” in the UK and decided to bring it to America, I really needed a new challenge. So I told NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Zucker I wanted to be the head of NBC. He said I was overqualified for the job and would be better suited to be his boss… but I convinced him that I would prefer to run NBC for a while and see how that goes first.
Ben Silverman: When Zucker told me he wanted to move Jay Leno to 10pm and cancel all the dramas in that time slot, I said he was crazy. “It will never work”, I said. I predicted at the time The Jay Leno Show would last approximately four months before the affiliates would complain about having a crappy lead-in. But Jeff Zucker was insistent. So he did it. He moved Jay to 10pm… and I quit.
(Another slide – giant Electus logo… a smaller IAC logo barely noticeable.)
Ben Silverman: Having conquered the broadcast network world, I decided the one space where every content producer was having trouble was the online world. It was a challenge I couldn’t refuse. The person who figures out how to make money with content on the internet will be made King! Everyone is losing shitloads of money right now. “It’s a space that can’t be tamed, Ben.” “Please, Ben, don’t try it.” Everyone was being a whiny little bitch to me, begging me not to go into New Media. When Barry Diller pleaded with me to take $100 million and start Electus, I told him it wouldn’t work. “It’s throwing good money down the toilet”, I said. But he insisted.
(Another slide – Ben Silverman holding a mini-dv camcorder.)
Ben Silverman: I just wanted to have a little mini-dv camcorder and some really good out of work writers looking for a break and I wanted to create a low-cost, high-quality content site. It’s the only model that works. But Mr. Diller, being used to high-cost, low-quality content, insisted that I take the money. So I did. And, today, I’m happy to say, there is still some money left.
Ben Silverman: I will now take your questions.
Note to Ben, just copy and paste the text into Word, print it out, and you have your speech.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea