I’ve written a lot of words about Jay Leno being a hack and NBC sucking, but I haven’t dedicated nearly enough time to the ham-fisted, thumb-fingered mongoloids responsible for the network’s late-night fiasco and general suckitude. That would be head honcho Jeff Zucker, who made the Leno at 10 o’clock decision, and Dick Ebersol, whose NBC Sports is about to lose $200 million on the Olympic Games. Lookin’ good, fellas!
Zucker, it seems, has always been a self-serious dickhead to Conan O’Brien, as Nikki Finke recounts in this story from their college days:
The Harvard Crimson described the incident this way in a 2004 article about Conan landing The Tonight Show courtesy of Zucker: “O’Brien cut his teeth in comedy as president of The Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine. In fact, O’Brien first met Zucker, his current boss, one day when O’Brien and the Lampoon editors stole all the copies of that morning’s Crimson. Zucker, then Crimson President, called the police and met O’Brien face to face while he was being arrested.” In 2001, Conan told The New Yorker this about the incident: “College pranks are supposed to be clever, but our rivalry with the Crimson had degenerated into us stealing something, Jeff calling the police, and the police making us haul it back,” said O’Brien. (Other Lampoon pranks on Zucker included “a fake phone-sex ad with Zucker’s dorm-room phone number. Zucker did not find any of this particularly hilarious.”) So what’s to glean from this Harvard history lesson? Yes, Jeff Zucker was a thin-skinned prick who didn’t understand comedy or know how to handle creatives even back then.
As for Ebersol, a longtime NBC bigwig with close ties to the network’s late-night programming: in an interview with the New York Times, he defended the network’s decision to can O’Brien and stick Jay Leno back into the role of “Tonight Show” host. And he did it in the most dickish way possible:
Referring to the pointed jokes made this week by Mr. O’Brien and David Letterman of CBS, Mr. Ebersol said it was “chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn’t beat in the ratings.”
He added that “what this is really all about is an astounding failure by Conan.” Mr. Ebersol is a veteran at the network, with a longstanding relationship with NBC Universal’s embattled chief executive, Jeff Zucker.
Hey, I get it. People at the top of a big corporation didn’t get to the top by being honest and accountable and having a good sense of humor. They get there by eliminating rivals and crushing opposition. What I can’t figure out is how these two boobs still have jobs. Oh right: it’s Hollywood. My bad.