Leno in Primetime Was a Mistake, Fired NBC Executive Admits

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Jeff Zucker, NBC's chief executive, will step down after the network is officially taken over by Comcast, the New York Times reports today. Zucker is leaving NBC after nearly 25 years as an employee and five as CEO. Successes of his career include reviving the Today show in the early '90s, negotiating contracts for the final seasons of Friends, and signing Donald Trump to star in The Apprentice. But he's best known now as the executive who moved Jay Leno from the Tonight Show to primetime, a disastrous decision that led to Leno returning to late-night and Conan O'Brien fleeing to TBS.

In an interview with the New York Times, Zucker discussed the Leno move:

"Do I wish we'd had more success at NBC Entertainment in recent years? Yes, of course," Mr. Zucker said. He acknowledged one recent widely publicized blunder, the effort to shift NBC's late-night star Jay Leno to prime time. He said the move had been a risk worth taking, but one "that simply didn't work out."

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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