Jeff Zucker on Conan O’Brien: “Nobody’s Owed Anything in Television”
He says O’Brien believed that he was “owed” Jay Leno's 11:35 p.m timeslot.
During a speech Monday at Harvard's Shorenstein Center, former NBC Universal president and chief executive Jeff Zucker said the Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien Tonight Show dispute was one of the lowest points in his 24 years at the network.
Zucker - who lost his job when Comcast acquired the network- said it was “very painful for me personally," according to Poynter.
NBC gave O’Brien the 11:35 p.m. slot and moved Leno to 10 p.m. Seven months later, Leno infamously reclaimed his original time.
Zucker said O’Brien, whom he’s known since their Harvard undergraduate days, believed that he was “owed” the 11:35 p.m. Slot, “but nobody’s owed anything in television.”
Zucker said both shows failed but had no regrets about “taking a shot” by trying out Leno at a 10 p.m. timeslot.
“Our mistake was that we let Conan continue for two weeks [after he was removed from the 11:35 p.m. slot]," Zucker said. "The whole thing became a national soap opera.”