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| Culture |

"Fidel" Supports Conan. The Guy Who's Really to Blame for NBC's Mess? Miami's Own Jeff Zucker

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Man, it seems like everyone has an opinion on NBC's Conan O'Brien/Jay Leno disaster. Even, apparently, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.


Just about every late night show has devoted most of its monologue to the situation, and O'Brien's tonight show is no different. Last night, among his many bits, Conan aired world-wide reaction about the proposed shift of Jay Leno back to NBC late night that would either see O'Brien bumped back to 12:05 or completely off the channel. Unfortunately for the self-deprecating O'Brien, it seems like he's only getting support from the world's worst dictators including Muammar al-Gaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Fidel Castro. Fidel gets a Jersey Shore joke. That video is after the jump.

Meanwhile, the real villain in the story may be a  Homestead native, North Miami Senior High School graduate, former Miami Herald freelance sports reporter, and a guy who once dreamed of playing for the Miami Dolphins: Jeff Zucker.

Zucker, at just 44 years-old, has risen to the position of President and CEO of NBC Universal even as his tenure has seen the network's fortunes plummet with frequent last place ratings.
Zucker first shined as a producer for Katie Couric, then not that far removed from her reporter gig with WTVJ, on The Today Show. He soon took over the entire show and propelled it to first in the ratings. Then came a promotion to head of NBC's Entertainment Division and a series of fast promotions that saw him elevated to CEO and President of NBC Universal. 

Zucker deserves some of the credit for the ratings success of the company's cable channels like Bravo, MSNBC, and SyFy, but NBC itself has fallen from the top rated network to the bottom of the big four. Earlier this year, NBC was even beaten by Univision for a week in a key demographic

It was under Zucker's watch that the deal that Conan would replace Jay in 2009 was made. It was under his watch that Leno was giving his 10pm show, and now he's still in charge even as the plan seems to implode. 
 
The total mishandling of NBC's late-night situation has again fired up calls for Zucker's firing. The New York Times' Maureen Dowd devoted a column to his failuresThe Business Insider suggests that when Comcast takes control of NBC Universal, its first order of business should be to write up a pink slip. 

It doesn't seem that they give classes on business tact or how to run a successful network at North Miami Senior High for that matter.



As a side note: Zucker and O'Brien go way back. As Harvard classmates, O'Brien was editing the school's humor magazine, The Lampoon, when Zucker wrote sports stories for the school's newspaper, The Crimson. The Lampoon's staff, as a prank, stole all edition of The Crimson before they could be delivered. Zucker called the cops and had O'Brien taken away in handcuffs.

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