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The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien: Jeff Zucker Interview and “Voice-mails”

Jeff ZuckerNBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker appeared on Charlie Rose last night and talked about the decisions that led up to the current NBC late-night mess — which may be remembered as the biggest network debacles in television history. You can watch the complete interview here.

He essentially defends the 2004 decision to hand off the Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien. If they hadn’t made the deal, O’Brien would have likely gone to another network and NBC would have been left without an heir for the Tonight Show and without a Late Night host as well.

Zucker says that they took a chance and, had things all worked out as they’d hoped, they would have looked brilliant. The only thing is, they didn’t count on Jay Leno still being at the top of the ratings in 2009 or that O’Brien’s Tonight would be ranking third in the ratings.

Do you think Zucker will be fired for the late night debacle?

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Zucker still feels that O’Brien should have accepted the Tonight Show moving to 12:05am and believes the network is getting back onto the right track. He also mentioned that he’s received death threats over the whole thing, something he finds unbelievable considering that there are so many more important things going on in the world today, like the tragedy in Haiti.

As the days go on, the late night humor has been getting nastier and nastier so you can understand why NBC would like this whole thing to go away as quickly as possible. If you’d like a good chuckle, at Zucker’s expense, have a listen to his “voice-mails.”

What do you think? Does Zucker’s rationale make sense? Do you think he will be fired over this mess? Should he?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

rosie February 26, 2010 at 9:12 pm

We miss u all ready good luck


Nancy Light January 22, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Conan O’Brien, his family & staff certainly got screwed big time. I have always heard, “What goes around, comes around!” Jeff Zucker may know how it feels one of these days if someone does to him what he did, not only to Conan, but to has family & staff. You can’t trust anyone these days.
Good luck to Conan whereever he goes. NBC has lost a great late night host & they deserve what they get.


Matt January 20, 2010 at 9:07 am

I second every word Mike just said.


Mike January 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Isn’t it convenient of this corporate S.O.B. to be using the tragedy in Haiti as a “shield” in order to deflect the heat off of him for outright screwing Conan O’Brien and his staff? I mean, that’s exactly what he’s doing. Sans lubrication. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Just spin doctors twisting and contorting everything in a much less sinister light. Yeah, the death threats he’s receiving are pretty ridiculous and nobody deserves that, but don’t you DARE use the tragedy in Haiti as an exit strategy in discussions when prompted about the poor decision making going on at the forefront of NBC. Accept responsibility. For the sake of your own future ambitions and/or executive endeavors, admit that you have failed your network and viewing audience. Admit that you have shown very poor judgment in all of this and are the catalyst for one of the biggest network disasters in television history. From a business standpoint, I definitely vote that this man be held accountable for his multi-million dollar failures and lack of foresight. From a personal standpoint? As a man? I really don’t know how this destroyer of entertainment can even sleep at night. Go to hell, Jeff Zucker.


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