NBC-Universal CEO Jeff Zucker broke his silence on The Tonight Show fiasco while speaking to Charlie Rose Monday, in the wake of a bitter power struggle between NBC, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien that has shaken the network to its very foundation.
Zucker said the offer is still on the table for O’Brien to host The Tonight Show at 12:05 a.m. EST, but that if O’Brien refused, the late-night lineup would consist of Jay Leno followed by Jimmy Fallon. In the understatement of the year, Zucker admitted to Rose that O’Brien was “not comfortable” remaining on The Tonight Show at a later start time. He confirmed that O’Brien’s contract had no written stipulation as to when The Tonight Show would air, as previously reported.
Zucker said ideas he has overseen, such as Jay Leno hosting a prime-time show were “not stupid chances,” but “chances that have some degree of possibility of success — nothing tried, nothing gained.”
O’Brien’s settlement with the Peacock Network, tentatively in the works, is rumored to be $40 million and would enable the red-headed comedian to seek employment elsewhere as early as this fall.
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