In a long piece that will appear in Sunday’s New York Times that is part run-down on the recent issues regarding late night, and part “history of NBC,” NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker says that it was new NBC entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin who suggested a 30 minute Jay Leno show at 11:35 and moving Conan to 12:05.
“That’s what he wanted to do, and I said, O.K., give it a shot,” Zucker said, with the Times noting the shot exploded in their faces.
But Zucker took the blame for Leno at 10pm.
“At the end of the day Jay at 10 o’clock didn’t work, and I take responsibility for that,” Zucker told the Times.
“I think part of why there’s been such a visceral reaction to this is we’ve talked about change and taking risks, and that’s something I’ve always been associated with,” Zucker said. “And not being afraid to take chances.”
Mr. Zucker also suggests that for all the recent focus on NBC woes, it will ultimately pass.
“We live in a society today that loves a soap opera,” Zucker said. “Three months ago it was David Letterman. Six weeks ago it was Tiger Woods’s problems. Today it’s NBC’s problems.”
The story also notes that although the NBC network was raking in a billion dollars in annual profit a decade ago, this year NBC (the broadcast network, not the umbrella NBC Universal) will lose $100 million dollars, partly due to taking a big loss on the Olympics.