Fred Silverman Put a Series of Hits on All 3 Major Networks

Executive backed Roots , All in the Family
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2020 7:00 PM CST
Programming Boss at Big 3 Put Roots , All in the Family on the Air
NBC President Fred Silverman speaks in Los Angeles in 1978.   (AP Photo, File)

Fred Silverman, who steered programming for each of the Big Three broadcast networks and brought All in the Family, Roots, Hawaii Five-O and other hit series and miniseries to television, died Thursday. He was 82. Silverman, who had been battling cancer, died at his home in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, the AP reports. Silverman's gift for picking winners prompted Time magazine to dub him "The Man with the Golden Gut" in a 1977 profile. As ABC's entertainment chief, Silverman turned the network’s fortunes around with shows including Roots, Rich Man, Poor Man and Charlie’s Angels. He had already brought success to CBS with an overhaul that included replacing country-themed series such as Green Acres with what advertisers considered more upscale and urban fare, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and Mannix. He couldn't repeat that success when he moved to NBC.

Inspiration for one of his hits struck as he listened to music on a flight to Los Angeles, per the Los Angeles Times. "Frank Sinatra comes on, and I hear him say ‘scooby-dooby-doo.'" Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! first aired in 1969 on CBS and became a hit. One of the characters, Fred Jones, was named for Silverman. The only person to ever run the creative end of all three major networks, Silverman said he hated the "golden gut" label. It's learning what worked and acting on it, he said, that brings success. "The gut can enter it to a point," Silverman once said. "But there’s a lot more."

(Read more network television stories.)

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