Soft-spoken Comcast executive Stephen Burke is poised to become the most powerful man in Hollywood: If his company takes over NBC as planned, Burke would be tasked with overseeing all the newly created media behemoth's programming. Insiders say Burke's behind-the-scenes approach to leadership could help him avoid the ego trips and culture clashes that sometimes scupper high-profile mergers. "In many respects, Steve was born for this merger," says one former colleague.

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