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Jeff Zucker, You Make It Too Easy For Me

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. To Philadelphia. That is, if you’re NBCU chief Jeff Zucker. I’m sure long beleaguered GE shareholders, and soon to be beleaguered Comcast shareholders (that is, if Zucker stays on after the merger) are overjoyed to hear that, on the eve of what’s being described as the most intensely competitive opening week for broadcast networks in recent memory, Zucker was giving a speech to Wharton students. About the science of good leadership. Because he’s supposed to be an expert. ”After all, we’re not paying $80,000 a year to end up in middle management,” archly wrote the official Wharton account of the mogul’s visit. ”Who better to teach us the skills of leadership than NBC Universal’s president and CEO Jeffrey Zucker.” Stop laughing, readers.

Even the Wharton account of his Thursday visit had little positive to say about NBC under Zucker. His “committing to ideas outside of the boundaries of generally accepted business practices … [was] super-sized episodes of Friends, adding 10 minutes to each show. ‘I was willing to take chances and it worked,’ he said.” Zucker as always wanted to talk only of the cable networks which his predecessor Bob Wright had left him. ”If we didn’t have the NBC network, people would think we were the best entertainment company.”

But it was Zucker’s philosophical words to the kids that I particularly relished: ”‘Content is king,’ he said. ‘It’s cheap to be first, but it’s expensive to be right.’ While Zucker acknowledged … Read More »

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Numerological Irony: Steve McPherson & Ben Silverman Out On The Same Date

Nellie Andreeva

Ben Silverman and Steve McPherson shared the most heated rivalry between broadcast toppers in recent years. Now, the two have something else to share: an exit date. On July 27, 2009, Silverman left NBC after a tumultuous 2-year stint. Today, July 27, 2010, McPherson departed ABC after a 6-year tenure that also got rocky in the last couple of years. Both executive changes were made on the eve of the summer TV Critics Association Press Tour. And speaking of TCA, it was almost exactly 3 years ago to the date (on July 25, 2007) when McPherson challenged Silverman to “be a man” at TCA. Boy, those two will be missed at press tour.

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