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"I Won't Die With A Little Help From My Friends"

Well its been a while but now that all the poster boards have long been collecting dust a new episode of Earl has finally been unleashed and it did not disappoint After NBC President and CEO Jeff Zucker got the ball rolling with a quick recap and a good-natured joke or two about the writers strike we were back in Camden County Earl and Billie were of course right where we left them unconscious in the street As Randy commandeers an ambulance in order to rush him to the hospital Earl dreams of starring in a sitcom since TV has always been a source of solace This was an excellent way to kick off Earls return I think the onscreen dichotomy between the actual episode and a farcical send-up of classic TV really drove the point home that these writers are right on the cutting edge Also it was in this imagined show that the big buzz surrounding tonights installment played out Paris Hilton fresh off of her latest box office flop The Hottie and the Nottie read more

Although I really can't stand ...

Question: Although I really can't stand Jay Leno and much prefer Conan O'Brien, I was very surprised when NBC announced Conan would be replacing Leno in the near future. I assumed eventually it would be revealed why this happened, but I haven't read anything about that. I can't see Leno wanting to step down, and his ratings have been stellar for NBC. I could see NBC worrying about losing Conan, but Leno is young and hungry enough to captain The Tonight Show for many more years of big ratings. So do you have any insights about why this is happening? Answer: NBC made the announcement three years ago that Jay would step down from the Tonight throne in 2009 and Conan would succeed him, the idea being to keep Conan at the network and lay the groundwork for a more orderly passing of the torch than what happened when Johnny Carson retired (a bruising and messy tug-of-war involving Leno and Letterman). The reason it's making headlines again is because there's new management at NBC Entertainment ... read more

NBC and CNN Execs Poised to Fight for Anchor Campbell Brown

Campbell Brown by Sara Jay Weiss/NBC

While NBC trots out its stars for the Television Critics Association press tour, the network’s execs are trying to decide on the future of weekend Today co-anchor Campbell Brown. When Brown’s contract expires at the end of the month, she will have an offer from CNN waiting for her. The cable news channel is trying to lure Brown with a substantial raise and a nightly program.But NBC News has the right to match CNN’s salary package. Insiders believe Brown has already made up her mind to leave, but NBC News president Steve Capus is making a last-ditch effort to keep her. He has the backing of NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker. Brown, who is also a frequent substitute for NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, has been with the network since 1998. — Reporting by Stephen Battaglio read more

NBC Press Tour Day 1
New exec Ben Silverman gets thumbs up

Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff, NBC

It was fair to wonder why NBC put Kevin Reilly in the executive ejector seat just after signing him to a new multi-year contract. After seeing the debut performance of his replacement, Ben Silverman, at the Television Critics Association press tour, we're not wondering anymore.Instead of doing a rope-a-dope with reporters because he's only been in the job a month, Silverman came out with guns blazing, firing off one programming announcement after another. He even made a deal with legendary sitcom producer Norman Lear. That's red meat for the TCA, since many of its members love TV the way it used to be.He's even ignored the mandate NBC chief read more

The NBC Shuffle

Ben Silverman, Kevin Reilly courtesy NBC

No such thing as a lull in the TV business, both on and off screen, not even in the once-sleepy period between the end of the traditional season and the start of June. Forget about all the off-season shows premiering this week (you probably will eventually, anyway), a rather staggering glut, but fans won’t want to forget that House and Boston Legal have their season finales tonight (delayed a week to make room for reality TV). Beyond what’s on TV, it’s been a crazy couple of days for the business itself.On Friday, it was made official that Rosie O’Donnell was off The View for good, a few weeks ahead of schedule. Not such a big surprise after her confrontational meltdown with Elisabeth Hasselbeck a few days earlier, the latest chapter in The Boor vs. The Blonde. Looks to me like Rosie was just looking for any excuse to make an early exit. The fact that she did not bow out with grace is hardly a shock. But what will it take to get her nitwit nemesis off the show? R... read more

Who's the Boss? NBC Prez Broadens Empire

According to the Associated Press, NBC's prime-time jefe Jeff Zucker is likely to be promoted to CEO of NBC Universal this week. Zucker is the fella who, on the plus side, got the Friends to be there for us for an extra two seasons, but in the minus column, got behind Fear Factor. In additional to a pay raise and a title change, the promotion will also guarantee the boss unlimited access to Nikki Cox's cell number. read more

Forget the Cheerleader — Save NBC

NBC jumped the shark in 2004.The Apprentice was the hottest show on television. We're talking absolute must see TV that was oozing buzz. NBC tried to capitalize on the show's success and put all their eggs in the Donald's reality basket.I said it then, and I'm saying it now — moving The Apprentice to anchor Thursday nights sent the network right over the fin. ABC learned its lesson with Millionaire. CBS always had CSI and Everybody Loves Raymond to go with Survivor and The Amazing Race.Thursday nights belonged to NBC. It lost Friends and Frasier (which had jumped the shark years ago) and had nothing in the pipeline. First to fourth wasn't an "if", it was a "when".I understand how tempting it is to lead off each night with a game show or reality show (i.e. inexpensive show). It's also another big mistake. Deal or No Deal is getting pummeled into the ground as I type as the contestants get more and more "wacky".So you're Jeff Zucker... what do you do? Glad you asked.1. Pluck C... read more

NBC's Surrender, and Other TV Topics

So NBC is going to abandon the first hour of prime time, according to non-visionary chief Jeff Zucker. No more pricey comedies and dramas to fill the 8 pm/ET hour in the future. I guess the handful of shows, mostly comedies, now airing in that hour will migrate elsewhere at some point, whichever ones actually survive. Sounds like surrender to me. Not to mention fewer scheduling options for a lesser range of programming. Be on the lookout for more cheesy game shows and cheaper reality retreads. And what would happen should NBC be lucky enough to stumble across a perfect 8 pm/ET premise like ABC's family-friendly Ugly Betty? This is such a short-sighted blanket philosophy it's as staggering as it is depressing. Was it just two years ago that Friends signed off as one of the highest-rated shows ever, holding down that first half-hour of prime Thursday real estate? How times have changed, and how quickly. And how sad is it for TV's future to see a network simply giving up rather than tr... read more

Press Tour Diary: Day One

As any self-respecting TV journalist will tell you, the annual Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Los Angeles is only as good as the free food that's dished out. And from the taste of things, this is going to be a fan-freakin-tastic 10 days. NBC kicked things off Saturday with a menu that included power bars, smoothies, hot popcorn, fresh fruit, a movie theater-style candy counter and, best of all, veggie burgers! Suddenly, the Peacock's new fall lineup was looking a lot better. The only thing missing was Diet Raspberry Snapple, which, by the way, was not waiting for me when I arrived at my hotel. (Let's just say I was not pleased and leave it at that, okay? Great.) Anyway, the day's schedule included panels for Medical Investigation, The Apprentice 2 and the much-talked about Siegfried and Roy-themed CGI comedy Father of the Pride. Here's my minute-by-minute recap:EXECUTIVE SESSION9:00 am The ex read more

Press Tour Diary: Day One

As any self-respecting TV journalist will tell you, the annual Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Los Angeles is only as good as the free food that's dished out. And from the taste of things, this is going to be a fan-freakin-tastic 10 days. NBC kicked things off Saturday with a menu that included power bars, smoothies, hot popcorn, fresh fruit, a movie theater-style candy counter and, best of all, veggie burgers! Suddenly, the Peacock's new fall lineup was looking a lot better. The only thing missing was Diet Raspberry Snapple, which, by the way, was not waiting for me when I arrived at my hotel. (Let's just say I was not pleased and leave it at that, okay? Great.) Anyway, the day's schedule included panels for Medical Investigation, The Apprentice 2 and the much-talked about Siegfried and Roy-themed CGI comedy Father of the Pride. Here's my minute-by-minute recap:EXECUTIVE SESSION9:00 am The ex read more

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Charlie Rose with Jeff Zucker; Samantha Power (September 19, 2002)
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Charlie Rose - Jeff Zucker / Chefs Daniel Boulud, Patrick O'Connell, & Jonathan Cartwright (December 2, 2010)
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