July 20, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

How do you charm a roomful of persnickety journalists? Well, if you’re new NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman, you kill them with kindness. On July 16, the ex-producer, 36, faced critics during the fourth-place network’s presentation at the biannual TV press tour, and almost before the grousing could begin, he flashed a Cheshire cat smile and unveiled a slew of projects. Among them: a dramedy from legendary producer Norman Lear; a U.S. version of Australia’s randy mother-daughter comedy Kath & Kim; Phenomenon, a reality series about the search for the next great illusionist; and — sigh — a celeb edition of Donald Trump’s Apprentice.

Silverman also revealed that Jerry Seinfeld will appear as himself in the Oct. 4 season premiere of 30 Rock, but it was the announcement that he’d given Isaiah Washington his first TV job since he was fired from ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy last month that really set tongues wagging. The actor is slated for a five-episode arc on NBC’s heavily touted fall update of the ’70s action series The Bionic Woman. And while NBC is mum on whom Washington will play, exec producer Jason Smilovic shares this: ”[One] character is there to teach her how to find the balance between man and machine. Isaiah comes in saying, ‘You have to give in to the machine.’ It’s establishing a unique dichotomy.”

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