The very public feud between Conan O'Brien and NBC over "The Tonight Show" has worsened. After issuing a stinging statement, O'Brien is attacking the network in his nightly monologue, reportedly provoking NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker to threaten to keep the talk show host "off the air" for three-and-a-half years. The timing couldn't be worse: NBC is suffering its lowest ratings in years. Is Zucker's time at NBC coming to an end? (Watch Jeff Zucker talk about Jay Leno in a November 2009 interview)
His time is up: Zucker was lucky never to be "tarred with the failure" of NBC's primetime schedule, says Ron Grover at Business Week. Well, "Jeff, it looks like your luck has run out." The decision to put Leno in the 10 pm slot has "accelerated all of the business' ailments," and this latest "saga" is the last straw. This "mess" will be your "undoing" as soon as Comcast takes over NBC.
"Mr. Zucker, Comcast on Line Three"
Zucker's reign wasn't all bad: Let's not forget Zucker made "programming magic" on NBC's cable channels, says Gillian Regan at The Business Insider. MSNBC, Syfy, Bravo and the USA Network had "distinct programming and decent ratings" under his "reign." So why didn't he "stay in cable, where he belongs"? At NBC, the damage is done and Zucker "richly deserves" to get the "pink slip" for "trashing" the Peacock network's "once-prized late night brand."
"NBC's Fail King: Comcast Should Give Jeff Zucker The Pink Slip"
But Zucker won't step aside: This spat is, "quite simply, one of the most shameful fiascoes in the history of modern broadcast television," says Chaz Pazienza at The Huffington Post. Of course Zucker's head should roll. But "that likely won't happen." Zucker's contract has just "bafflingly" been renewed for three years, and he isn't the type to put "humility above ego and step aside." NBC is now in "ruins" and Zucker will "go down in history" as the man who "destroyed" it.
"NBC and Zucker: The Downward Spiral"
SEE THE WEEK'S LATEST COVERAGE OF THE LATE-NIGHT WARS:
• Top 7 'Jay Leno and NBC' takedown videos
• Conan's bombshell statement
• The full text of Conan's ultimatum to NBC
• Leno vs. Conan: Is NBC ruining its late-night franchise?