Former NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy once lorded over Hollywood as a titan of television as the industry around him was crumbling. The Netflix menace was on the rise and Hollywood media companies were struggling to respond. Telegdy was trying to hold it together while running an increasingly imperiled broadcast network.
Before he was pushed out of NBC in 2020 amidst a nation-wide fever of recriminations, exposés, and public firings, Telegdy oversaw some of the world’s most successful reality television programming, including The Voice, American Ninja Warrior, and while at BBC Worldwide Dancing with the Stars. He also had the pleasure of overseeing Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. Telegdy regularly fielded calls from the future president. Trump always wanted to brag to Telegdy about the show’s ratings success, Telegdy told us.
By the late 2010s, streaming had upended the television business, dislodging NBC from its prized perch and creating new media titans like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Apple. Disney proved most successful at answering the streaming industry’s money-burning onslaught — only for investors to suddenly change their tune this year and insist on profits rather than growth.
We invited Telegdy — who Dead Cat co-host Tom Dotan got to know covering Hollywood — on the show to talk about the state of Hollywood today.
We start off the episode discussing Telegdy’s rise from his perch at the BBC and then his ascent to the top rungs of Hollywood at NBC. We talk about how the era of Hollywood “Jeffs” gave way to the reign of “Bobs.”
Telegdy dissects Bob Chapek’s short tenure as the chief executive officer of Disney before his old boss Bob Iger returned to the role.
Finally, we ask Telegdy about The Hollywood Reporter article that helped tank his job at NBC. The Hollywood Reporter accused Telegedy of “racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior.” The story’s headline read, “NBC Insiders Say Entertainment Boss Fostered Toxic Culture, Under Investigation.” He was ousted from NBC in a reorganization as the company investigated the allegations.
We wanted to know what was it like being on the other side of a media exposé.
We reached out to NBC and the reporters at the Hollywood Reporter for comment. NBC declined to comment and the reporters did not reply.
In 2021, eager to make a quick comeback, Telegdy co-founded the entertainment company The Whole Spiel with his cousin. Telegdy has prodigious knowledge about the entertainment business and a sharp British sensibility, just the kind that might get someone in trouble with American office politics under a microscope.