Jeff Zucker

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Jeff Zucker

Zucker at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival
BornJeffrey Zucker
(1965-04-09) April 9, 1965 (age 47)
Homestead, Florida, U.S.
EthnicityJewish[1]
Alma materHarvard University (BA)
OccupationExecutive Producer of Katie
2011-Present
chief executive officer
NBCUniversal
(2007-2011)
Years active1986–Present
EmployerDisney-ABC Domestic Television Producing Katie
SpouseCaryn Stephanie Nathanson
Website
Zucker's Executive Biography at NBC Universal
 
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Jeff Zucker

Zucker at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival
BornJeffrey Zucker
(1965-04-09) April 9, 1965 (age 47)
Homestead, Florida, U.S.
EthnicityJewish[1]
Alma materHarvard University (BA)
OccupationExecutive Producer of Katie
2011-Present
chief executive officer
NBCUniversal
(2007-2011)
Years active1986–Present
EmployerDisney-ABC Domestic Television Producing Katie
SpouseCaryn Stephanie Nathanson
Website
Zucker's Executive Biography at NBC Universal

Jeffrey "Jeff" Zucker (born April 9, 1965) is an American television executive and former President and CEO of NBCUniversal.

Contents

Personal life

Zucker was born to Jewish-American parents in Homestead, Florida, near Miami.[citation needed] His father was a cardiologist, and his mother, Arlene, was a school teacher.[2] He has a younger sister, Pam.

He was captain of the North Miami Senior High School tennis team,[citation needed] editor of the school paper,[citation needed] and a teenage freelance reporter ("stringer") for The Miami Herald. The 5-foot-6-inch (1.68 m) Zucker also served as president of his senior class, running on the slogan: "The little man with the big ideas."[3] Before college, he took part in Northwestern University's National High School Institute program for journalism.

Zucker went on to Harvard University, serving as President of the school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, during his senior year. As President of the Crimson, Zucker encouraged the decades-old prank rivalry with the Harvard Lampoon, headed by future NBC colleague Conan O'Brien.[4] Zucker recounts how O'Brien lived in the same dormitory and ran the Lampoon, which, he said, made them "natural rivals."[5] Zucker studied abroad in Madrid in 1983 through IES Abroad. He graduated Harvard in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in American history.

In 1996, Zucker married Caryn Stephanie Nathanson, then a supervisor for Saturday Night Live,[2] with whom he has four children.[6]

Career at NBC

Researcher

When he was not admitted to Harvard Law School, he was hired by NBC in 1986 to research information for its coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics.[7]

Producer of Today Show

In 1989, he was a field producer for Today, and at 26 he became its executive producer in 1992.[8] He introduced the program's trademark outdoor rock concert series and was in charge as Today moved to the "window on the world" Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza in 1994. Under his leadership, Today was the nation’s most-watched morning news program, with viewership during the 2000-01 season reaching the highest point in the show’s history.[citation needed]

President of NBC Entertainment

In 2000, he was named NBC Entertainment's president.[9] A 2004 Businessweek Profile stated that "During that time he oversaw NBC's entire entertainment schedule. He kept the network ahead of the pack by airing the gross out show Fear Factor, negotiating for the cast of the hit series Friends to take the series up to a tenth season, and signing Donald Trump for the reality show The Apprentice. The Zucker era produced a spike in operating earnings for NBC, from $532 million the year he took over to $870 million in 2003."[3]

Zucker put his mark on the network with Las Vegas, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Scrubs. He originated the idea of airing "Supersized" (longer than the standard 30 minute slot) episodes of NBC's comedies and aggressively programming in the summer months as cable networks began to draw away viewers with original programming from the network's rerun-filled summer slate. Also on Zucker's watch, Bravo changed its programming direction towards reality television, seeing much growth with that strategy, while the newly acquired Spanish network Telemundo was positioned to be more competitive with leading network Univision."

President of NBC Entertainment's News & Cable Group

In December 2003, he was promoted to president of NBC's Entertainment, News & Cable Group as well.

President of NBC Television Group

Following the merger with French media empire Vivendi Universal, he was promoted to president of its Television Group in May 2004. Zucker's responsibilities, which already included NBC's cable channels, were expanded to include TV production as well as the USA Network, Sci-Fi, and Trio cable channels. During Zucker's tenure, NBC slid from first place to fourth place in the ratings. Shows that Zucker championed such as Father of the Pride and the Friends spinoff Joey were considered failures.[10]

Chief Executive Officer of NBC

On December 15, 2005, Zucker was again promoted by NBC, to Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal Television Group behind Robert Charles Wright, vice chairman of General Electric and chairman & CEO of NBC Universal.[11] Zucker was responsible for all programming across the company’s television properties, including network, news, cable, and Sports and Olympics. His responsibilities also included the company’s studio operations and global distribution efforts. Zucker reported to Bob Wright until 2007.

President & CEO of NBC Universal: NBC Goes from First to Last in Ratings

Zucker was promoted on February 6, 2007, to the position of president & CEO of NBC Universal, replacing Bob Wright, who held the position at NBC Universal, and before that, at NBC, for 21 years.

In 2010, in response to a public controversy over the network's reported rescheduling of late-night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, Los Angeles Times reporters Meg James and Matea Gold declared that Zucker's tenure had led to "a spectacular fall by the country's premier television network" and dubbed the intra-network feud and subsequent public relations fallout "one of the biggest debacles in television history".[12] Under Zucker NBC fell from being the number one rated network to the lowest rated of the four broadcast networks and was occasionally being beaten in the ratings by programming on some of the more popular cable channels.

Days later, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that in Hollywood “there has been a single topic of discussion: How does Jeff Zucker keep rising and rising while the fortunes of NBC keep falling and falling? ...many in the Hollywood community have always regarded him as ...a network Napoleon who never bothered to learn about developing shows and managing talent." She explained that Zucker "is a master at managing up with bosses and calculating cost-per-hour benefits, but even though he made money on cable shows, he could not program the network to save his life."[13]

Dowd also reported that an unnamed "honcho at another network" stated that "Zucker is a case study in the most destructive media executive ever to exist... You’d have to tell me who else has taken a once-great network and literally destroyed it."[13]

Cancellation of Emmy nominated "The 4400" Sci-Fi Series

In 2007, despite being highly rated by users and despite a repeated fan campaign[citation needed] the Sci-Fi show The 4400 was cancelled. Fans of the show mounted an unsuccessful campaign to resurrect the series, sending petitions and sunflower seeds to SciFi and USA Network president Bonnie Hammer. In April 2008, the campaign shifted to target Jeff Zucker, who as president and chief executive officer of the NBC/Universal TV group had final say - again without success. As a result, Jeff Zucker earned the lasting enmity of the Sci-Fi community.[citation needed]

On June 2, 2010, the New York Post reported that Zucker would be paid between $30 million and $40 million to leave NBC Universal shortly after Comcast completes its 51 percent acquisition in the company.[14]

Plans

He plans to work for the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland;[15][16] and is reported to be reuniting with former Today host Katie Couric to produce her daytime talk show for Disney-ABC Domestic Television that would debut in 2012.[17]

Health

Zucker was diagnosed at age 31 with colon cancer. He worked through two bouts of it, had a large part of his colon removed, and then had more than a year of chemotherapy.[3]

References

  1. ^ Sher, Gilead (May 18, 2010). "World's 50 most influential Jews". Jpost.com. http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishFeatures/Article.aspx?id=175871. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "WEDDINGS;Jeffrey Zucker and Caryn Nathanson". The New York Times: p. 47. June 2, 1996. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E0DF1F39F931A35755C0A960958260&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fZ%2fZucker%2c%20Jeff. Retrieved June 4, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Grove, Ronald (September 27, 2004). "Jeff Zucker: Life Without Friends". BusinessWeek. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_39/b3901095.htm. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  4. ^ Finke, Nikki. "NO JOKE: Jeff Zucker Had Conan Arrested –". Deadline.com. http://www.deadline.com/hollywood/no-joke-jeff-zucker-had-conan-arrested/#coco. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Jeff Zucker on Conan O'Brien: We Were 'Natural Rivals'". The Hollywood Reporter. December 8, 2010. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jeff-zucker-conan-obrien-natural-57847. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  6. ^ Carter, Bill (September 24, 2010). "NYT article, Zucker quote as saying he has 4 children. Retrieved Sep 25, 2010". Mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/zucker-announces-departure-from-nbc/?emc=na. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ Bio of Jeff Zucker from NBC Universal
  8. ^ Carter, Bill (December 3, 1991). "NBC Names Executive Producer of 'Today'". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20610FE3A5B0C708CDDAB0994D9494D81&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fZ%2fZucker%2c%20Jeff. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  9. ^ Carter, Bill (December 25, 2000). "Network Heat Gets Even Hotter; At NBC, an Executive Moves From News to Entertainment". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F4091FF63E5C0C768EDDAB0994D8404482&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fZ%2fZucker%2c%20Jeff. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Now Jeff Zucker Must Prove Himself Yet Again". Businessweek.com. February 19, 2007. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_08/b4022042.htm. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Zucker Named NBC CEO; CBS Tops Fox NFL Pre-Game". Forbes. December 15, 2005. http://www.forbes.com/facesinthenews/2005/12/15/nbc-zucker-cbs-cx_gl_1215autofacescan14.html?partner=rss. 
  12. ^ James, Meg; Gold, Matea (January 9, 2010). "How Zucker's Leno quick fix got NBC into a quagmire". Latimes.com. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-zucker9-2010jan09,0,2371918.story. Retrieved May 14, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Dowd, Maureen (January 12, 2010). "The Biggest Loser". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/opinion/13dowd.html. Retrieved January 21, 2010. 
  14. ^ Atkinson, Claire (June 2, 2010). "NBC boss eyes $30M+ exit deal from Comcast". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/see_ya_zuckers_5oBszoRLEkIzFgg7px5IFN. Retrieved June 2, 2010. 
  15. ^ Friedman, Roger (September 24, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Gets the Last Laugh as Jeff Zucker Is Fired". Showbiz 411. http://www.showbiz411.com/2010/09/24/conan-obrien-gets-the-last-laugh-as-jeff-zucker-is-fired. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Jeff Zucker pushed out of NBC Universal". The Spy Report (Media Spy). September 25, 2010. http://www.mediaspy.org/report/2010/09/25/us-jeff-zucker-pushed-out-of-nbc-universal/. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  17. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (3 June 2011). "Katie Couric's New Talk Show Deal Likely to Be Announced Monday". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/katie-courics-new-talk-show-194820. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 

Further reading

External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Garth Ancier
President, NBC Entertainment
2000-2004
Succeeded by
Kevin Reilly
Preceded by
position created
President, NBC Universal Television Group
2004-2007
Succeeded by
unknown
Preceded by
Bob Wright
CEO of NBC
2007-2011
Succeeded by
Steve Burke