Appearing in a Q&A session at PromaxBDA, former NBCUniversal President and CEO Jeff Zucker opened up about Katie Couric’s upcoming talk show–which Zucker will executive produce with Couric–and about NBC’s now infamous failed programming experiment with Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Zucker, who left NBC in February, accepted responsibility for the Leno-O’Brian fiasco, but explained it this way: “I don’t regret necessarily what we tried by asking Jay to do 10 o’clock and Conan to do [‘The Tonight Show’]. What I regret is neither show worked. That’s what happened: Neither show worked. And then we had to make a decision about how to fix them.”
He said ultimately returning Leno to the “Tonight Show” chair was “the right decision.”
But Zucker added: “It doesn’t make me happy to say that. I regret that we had to make the decisions. There were no winners out of that. A lot of people got hurt in that process. And that was incredibly unfortunate.”
Zucker was upbeat about the Couric project. “I think what people have missed for a long time is the Katie who was part of … the ‘Today’ show and who is big enough to have fun and be serious all in one show,” he said. “That’s really what you’ll see [on her talk show]. That’s what her brand is. It’s a brand that has credibility and fun. Our hope is we take that into that program. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”