The network and its executives are in disarray after the questionable line of decisions that took Jay Leno to prime time. “Jeff Zucker was a fearless news producer and fast-rising entertainment executive who was just 41 when he became head of NBC Universal. But in the last few years, the onetime whiz kid behind the ‘Today’ show — he turned Katie Couric into a star — has made several costly miscalculations that have led to a spectacular fall by the country’s premier television network. Zucker’s troubles were magnified this week when, with NBC facing a revolt by affiliate stations furious over their sinking ratings, he decided to move Jay Leno back to late night after less than four months. The unusual measure was an acknowledgment that Zucker’s gambit to shift the comedian into prime time had failed. NBC’s Leno flip-flop, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest debacles in television history, underscores how Zucker, who views himself as a maverick and a champion of change, now faces a decidedly different legacy. Instead of the mogul with moxie who transformed television — he called for ‘a re-engineering of our businesses from top to bottom’ — Zucker might better be remembered as the guy who plucked the peacock.”
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