Jeff Zucker Defends Role in Late-Night Debacle

By Andrew Gauthier 


The NBC executive who has overseen the network’s decline in recent years said on Monday he showed “guts” and “leadership” by shaking up the network’s late-night programing–a disastrous move that will likely send talk-show host Conan O’Brien to a rival broadcaster.

Jeff Zucker, the president and CEO of General Electric Co’s NBC Universal entertainment unit, told PBS television interviewer Charlie Rose on Monday it was his job to take chances if he wanted to lift NBC out of the ratings mire.

“They don’t all work out,” Zucker said, according to a show transcript. “Nothing tried, nothing gained.”

NBC’s decision to boot ratings champ Jay Leno out of his “Tonight Show” perch and give the coveted 11:35 p.m. slot to “Late Night” host O’Brien set off a calamitous chain of events that has placed NBC management squarely in the crosshairs of the TV public and pundits. More…