Tears shed at NBC Uni town hall
Insiders call emotional finale 'inspiring'Most NBC Universal employees were crying as they left Thursday's town hall meeting in New York regarding the company's acquisition by Comcast.
But they weren't the tears of desperation and uncertainty often associated with the fallout from a merger on the work force (well, a few still might have been).
"Everybody came out wiping tears; it was very inspiring," one person said, referring to the town hall's big emotional finale that involved Comcast's chairman and CEO Brian Roberts giving a warm introduction to his father, 89-year-old Ralph Roberts.
Roberts Sr. then made a grand entrance from behind the curtain on the "Late Night" stage at 30 Rock, where the town hall meeting was held.
He spoke about co-founding the company 46 years ago as a small operation in Mississippi and called the NBC Uni deal a dream come true.
"It was like a Hallmark commercial," one person said.
Overall, the tone of the town hall -- which was carried live to West Coast employees gathered at the "Tonight Show" stage in Universal City -- was light, with a lot of jokes by NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker, who hosted the meeting, and his boss, GE CEO Jeff Immelt.
A highlight of the session came when "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams, who was in the audience, went to a microphone to ask a question.
The question came after Immelt, in a long-winded answer to a question about what transpired in the deal, mentioned Williams in passing.
"Are you trying to say that I'm responsible for this deal?" Williams asked in his trademark deadpan tone to a burst of laughter.
Responded Zucker, "Thank you, Tom Brokaw."
Immelt, Zucker, Brian Roberts and Comcast COO Steve Burke, who fielded employees' questions, stressed that it will be business as usual for the next year as the Comcast-GE deal goes through regulatory approval. They also reiterated that the two companies have very little overlap save for the cable network area, so no layoffs are expected.
"That certainly improved the mood," one attendee said.
All in all, Burke and the younger Roberts came across as very personable, NBC Uni insiders said. "I came out thinking, 'I like these guys,' " one said.