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Executive friendships

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Taking that Godfather line about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer to new heights are a group of rival TV execs whose annual trek has become a hotter ticket than a Lakers game. The group started seven years ago with a weekend in Lake Tahoe; its founding members (including UTA agent Chris Harbert, 36; ATG’s Eric Tannenbaum, 37; DreamWorks’ Dan McDermott, 36; Fox’s David Nevins, 34; and UPN Entertainment’s Tom Nunan, 38) were biz buds who thought it would be fun to get away. Harbert says of their first outing, ”We were on a deck, drinking beer and talking on our cell phones. We were all young and thought we were hot s—. We don’t try to impress each other anymore.” Of course, as the group has climbed the ranks of the TV world, so has the level of accommodations: The chartered plane alone can cost up to $10,000. This power pack, now 12 strong (with new pledges like WB exec Jordan Levin, 33, and Warner TV’s Bruce Rosenblum, 42, who helped seal the Friends raise), tries to focus on gambling, wine-tasting, and golf. But TV talk finds its way back into the revelry. Nunan, for example, negotiated his job at UPN during one sojourn and bought a small-screen version of The Saint from Tannenbaum during another. ”It’s unrealistic to think we wouldn’t talk about it…. All kinds of gossiping goes on, and all kinds of put-downs fly,” says Nunan, who gets ribbed for his promptly canceled The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. ”That kind of equal-opportunity bashing makes it relaxing, actually.” And what do the pack’s bosses think? ”The Cold War is over,” says DreamWorks TV’s McDermott. ”We’re in a business of intermingling. It’s helpful if the parties are also good friends.” Which makes doing business a pleasure.

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