Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Quote of the Day
"Obviously in hindsight, perfect information leads you to that conclusion, that it was a mistake. And I think it’s the sign of a leader to step up and have the guts to reverse it. The worst thing to do is to let that mistake... linger. We tried to correct something that didn’t work."
-- NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker on Charlie Rose last night, begrudgingly admitting to a mistake while still hedging his ass off (to say nothing of patting himself on the back for his "leadership")
Mediaite today makes the argument that a least one point made by Zucker during last night's interview -- namely that by promising Conan O'Brien The Tonight Show in 2004, he kept a money-making team in place until the last possible minute -- is a fair one. I agree -- if you're thinking only in the short-term, which as I've said before is Zucker's personal bête noire when it comes to his ability to manage. Yes, Zucker kept two winners satisfied for five years so that they could make loads more money for the company, but at what cost? As usual, he put a band-aid on a crack in the dam that was guaranteed to quietly grow in size until things finally reached the breaking point. And that's exactly what happened a week or so ago. The long-term effects of the very public black-eye this entire debacle has caused for NBC can't be downplayed, regardless of the money that was made right up to the point where Zucker's quick-fix collapsed and the devil came calling to collect on the deal he'd made.
Zucker basically bullshitted everybody to keep things running smoothly and hoped everything would somehow work out in the end. But anyone who's ever been in any sort of relationship knows the dangers of putting off an inevitable conflict for the sake of temporarily keeping the peace.
(Update, 11:55am: You know, there's something that I think really needs to be made clear here, and it's something I've touched on before: No one should forget the fact that Zucker's essentially lying his ass off. He's continuing to misrepresent the real reason the Leno "experiment" was launched in the first place. He never could come right out and admit that moving Leno to prime time was a purely profit-driven enterprise and that NBC never planned on the show being a success in the traditional sense -- that is, by pulling in even passable numbers. Zucker knew going into it -- from the very beginning -- that Leno would be judged a failure; he didn't care because he knew the show would make money hand over fist for NBC since it cost the company nothing to produce. The only "mistake" Zucker made was misjudging the strength of the affiliate rebellion and the potential impact it could have on the proposed deal with Comcast. If the locals hadn't risen up with torches and pitchforks, Zucker would've continued secretly claiming victory at 10pm while publicly pretending to be concerned over Leno's low numbers, as if notions like quality programming that people tuned in for still mattered.)