Former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker spoke at the Promax/BDA conference in New York Wednesday, and his handling of Conan O’Brien‘s Tonight Show and Jay Leno‘s 10 p.m. show came up.
Zucker stood firm on the matter, saying that they made the right decision:
“What I regret is that neither show worked. That is really what happened, neither show worked. So we had to make a decision on how to fix both. I think we went with the one that we thought would attract the largest audience, and the broadest viewership. I think we were borne out to be right about that.
It was a very unfortunate period that we went through when we made that change. It wasn’t pleasant for anybody, there are no winners out of any of that. A lot of people got hurt in that process, and that was incredibly unfortunate.
At the end of the day it was my responsibility. Others were on the line to make the decisions, but I signed off on it, so it was my responsibility.”
With the news of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowskigiving the nod to Comcast acquiring NBC Universal breaking today, we thought we’d give outgoing NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker one last shout out. The Hollywood Reporter obtained Zucker’s letter to NBC Universal staffers, and surprisingly he doesn’t say anything like “Hey, my bad about that whole Leno and Conan thing which completely ruined our company, but have a good holiday! Well, those of you that will still have a job after Comcast takes over.”
They were lined up into the street to get into Michael’s today for that last gasp of revelry before heading out of town for the holidays. (We were impressed by how patient Eliot Spitzer seemed on the coat check line.) The red wine was flowing as VIPs cooled their heels in the lounge waiting for their dates to arrive. “Can’t anyone get anywhere on time in this city?” groused one well-heeled gent as he sipped his pinot noir while compulsively checking his iPhone. Apparently not. By the time Jonathan Wald, Becca Thrash and Harold Ford, Jr. strolled in, the place was going at full tilt — just the way the regulars like it.
2. Today show’s Marc Victor, frequent morning show guest security expert Bill Stanton and Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko. Did you happen to catch the cover story in the Style section of this Sunday’s New York Times chronicling Dave’s relationship with BFF Mediaite founder Dan Abrams? All we can say is: Gentlemen, give your publicists a raise.
(L to R): Pat Mitchell, President and CEO, The Paley Center for Media; Debora Spar, President, Barnard College; Tina Brown, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Beast; Lauren Zalaznick, President, NBCU Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks; Mark Addicks, Chief Marketing Officer, General Mills; Kim Brink, Executive Director, Advertising and Sales Promotion, Cadillac; Donna Speciale, President of Investment and Activation, MediaVest USA.
The Daily Beast‘s Tina Brown, NBC’s Lauren Zalaznick and Jeff Zucker, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gathered among other powerful women (and men) in media and marketing this morning for Women@NBCU’s annual Power of the Purse Breakfast. This year’s event was held at New York’s Cipriani’s as part of Advertising Week and focused on “Women in Power: Marketing to the Educated Consumer.”
To reach female consumers, Brown said it was important to remember the way women think. “Men want to know what happened. Women want to know what really happened,” she said. “Women have the incredible bullshit detector about everything.”
After the session wrapped, we spoke with the media veteran about her work at The Daily Beast, which she praised for pulling in a healthy five million unique visitors a month. Brown also said she’s looking forward to several upcoming Beast events, including a conference on reviving the economy in New Orleans featuring D.C. public school chancellor Michelle Rhee, and their Women of the World event in March featuring Diane Von Furstenberg and Meryl Streep.
But Brown was still mum on where those Newsweek-Daily Beast merger rumors originated. “I’ve already said everything I have to say about that,” she said.
Follow the jump to watch video from this morning’s panel and for more photos from the event.
The clip above is TheUptake’s Michael McIntee interviewing Senator Al Franken at Netroots Nation this past Saturday. Franken, a SNL alumn, admits that Jeff Zucker CEO of NBC Universal told him the deal would be “good for NBC.”
So the week of nail-biting is over, and Conan O’Brien is signing off as host of “The Tonight Show”… well, tonight. Fans are not the only ones sad to see CoCo go: both NBC and Jay Leno are doing major damage control to try and spin all the ill-will they’ve garnered lately for muscling Conan out of the 11:35 slot.
First stop on Jay’s “I’m sorry America” tour? “Oprah,” then the White House.
It’s been a long, strange journey into the (late) night, but the moment we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: Conan O’Brien is exiting The Tonight Show, and hastily. Saturday morning at 12:35 am (yes, this Saturday), Conan will bid adieu to NBC and head out for greener pastures…albeit $40 million richer to ease the burden of the inglorious exit (as well as allowing the network to sweep this controversy under the rug as quickly as possible).
The news was first broken by TheWrap.com‘s Josef Adalian early this morning, which has been confirmed by Conan’s manager, Gavin Polone. Polone told TheWrap, “In the end, Conan was appreciative of the steps NBC made to take care of his staff and crew and decided to supplement the severance they were getting out of his own pocket…Now he just wants to get back on the air as quickly as possible.”
Is this a hint at Conan’s rumored talks with Fox network? And we’re still waiting to hear from Jay’s team or NBC’s Jeff Zucker on an official statement. Stay tuned as more coverage develops.
NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker made an appearance last night on “Charlie Rose,” for a 30-minute interview that mainly focused on the company’s late night network TV debacle.
Opening the interview, Charlie Rose described NBC as “in shambles” five years after Zucker was promoted from executive producer at NBC News. Zucker took issue with that description:
“I think that’s a little unfair to the fantastic folks who work at NBC. The fact is, NBC Entertainment has had a rough run the last five years. There’s no question about it. We haven’t done well enough…And we have to do better. And we have to find bigger, broader, better shows. And the truth is, that really has defined NBC and NBC Universal and I think that’s what so unfortunate for the 30,000 employees who work at NBC Universal…the fact that our failure to do better at NBC Entertainment has unfortunately defined us.”
Zucker went on to say that while NBC Entertainment is only responsible for about five percent of NBC Universal’s bottom line, it is also responsible for about “95 percent of our perception.”
Still, although he admitted NBC Entertainment could have done better programming in recent years, Zucker said he had no regrets about the whole Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno situation. He explained that had NBC not offered O’Brien the chance to take over the “Tonight Show” in 2004, he would have left the network then. And the same holds true for Leno last year, when they developed the plan to move him to prime time.
Zucker even described the idea of moving Leno to a half-hour show at 11:35 p.m. as a way to help O’Brien boost his own ratings, clearly not agreeing with O’Brien’s belief that such a move would mean certain death for the “Tonight Show” franchise.
“Leadership is about taking chances and taking risks,” he told Rose. “And also leadership is about acknowledging when they don’t work.”
Admitting the half-hour Leno show was “not perfect for anyone,” Zucker said he also had hoped that O’Brien would agree. “Not everything is going to work,” he concluded. “If we don’t try to do things differently, if we don’t try to take chances, then we know what the results of the status quo will be. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t.”