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September 2, 2014

Jeff Zucker's Reign of Terribleness Finally Over at NBC

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 24th 2010 1:30PM
Jeff ZuckerJeff Zucker, the NBC Universal chief who will leave as soon as Comcast officially takes over, is forever capable of infuriating anyone who knows anything about TV.

The twin hallmarks of Zucker's reign at NBC were breathtaking arrogance coupled with an inability to pick, support or otherwise promote quality television.

Arrogance and general cluelessnes are not exactly in short supply at television networks. But Zucker's particularly brazen combination of those qualities were designed to produce aneurysms in anyone who watched NBC's shocking decline during the past decade or so.

You see, according to Zucker, none of the disasters that ever befell NBC were his fault. Outside factors were always to blame: The changing nature of the broadcast television industry, the fickleness of the viewing public, the evolving business model. Also, the sun got in his eyes and the dog ate his homework.

His exit interview with the New York Times was perfectly Zuckerian. His biggest regret was "not moving quickly enough" to fix NBC Entertainment.

And who was responsible for screwing up NBC Entertainment in the first place? Who took it from No. 1 to pathetic, struggling also-ran? Jeff Zucker! Does Zucker acknowledge this? No, of course not!

Once again, he expects us to assume that forces outside his control were responsible for the giant, mind-boggling mess that he and his acolytes made at NBC.

Let's get one thing straight: No one is more responsible for the craptastic state of NBC than Jeff Zucker himself. He's been at or near the top of the corporate flow chart for a decade, and during that time, he supersized the network's hit comedies until our eyes were bleeding, he failed to consistently develop quality programming that could take the places of the good but aging shows he inherited, he hired Ben Silverman to screw things up further, and then he tried to inflict Jay Leno on prime time.

And let us not forget that during his tenure, we were favored with the following programs: 'E-Ring.' 'Quarterlife,' 'The Philanthropist,' 'My Own Worst Enemy' (named after Zucker's reign?), 'Medical Investigation,' 'Lipstick Jungle,' 'Bionic Woman' 'Knight Rider,' 'Father of the Pride,' 'Outsourced,' 'Trauma,' 'Mercy,' 'LAX,' 'Hawaii,' 'Crusoe,' 'Coupling,' 'Kath & Kim,' 'Lyons Den,' and 'Inconceivable.'

Every network has some misses. But during the Zucker reign, it was patently obvious that quality was not Job 1, or even Job 27.

A few good shows squeaked by, but they were the exceptions, not the rule. Zucker's reign showed a palpable contempt for the viewer, and executives admitting mistakes was, again, the exception, not the rule (NBC executive Angela Bromstad said a couple of years ago that it was "always the plan" for Ben Silverman to only stay at NBC for two years. She appeared surprised when a room full of critics laughed at that patently comical statement.)

The poster child for Zucker's reign, though, had to be 'Joey.' It was a lame, derivative, pathetic attempt to hold on to a part of something that had once been successful. That was Zucker all over -- standing behind the schlocky derivative junk rather than taking chances on things that were different, well-crafted and interesting.

When NBC accidentally hired executives who knew how to spot decent projects, Zucker fired them (see also: Kevin Reilly). When NBC actually had a hit in 'Heroes,' the show was allowed to wither on the vine and finally die -- the show that could have been NBC's 'CSI.' When NBC occasionally came up with decent shows that could have used some promotion or support ('Kings,' 'Journeyman,' 'Life,' 'Southland,' among others), they were also allowed to die (or move to cable). And so on.

Through it all, Zucker's teflon-plated arrogance was unwavering. He insisted that he was doing good things for the company, despite all the failures and screwups. And the successes of NBC Universal's cable networks -- one of the company's bright spots -- appear to this observer to be the doing of those networks' executives. Zucker, of course, never failed to take credit for the things he somehow failed to mess up.

On and on, Zucker failed ever upward, winning promotion after promotion and making millions upon millions of dollars, even as he dragged the Peacock through the mud and set it on fire for good measure.

And in his leaving, it's his inability to admit his role in the destruction he leaves in his wake that raises the blood pressure. Then there's also the prospect that some deluded network might hire him to work his special magic. Or, worse yet, that Zucker might run for public office.

Hasn't America got enough problems?



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Tausif Khan

Mo I agree that NBC has done a bad job of replacing their hits of the 90s. However, NBC does once again have hit comedy line up on Thursdays. Chuck was saved even while having dismal ratings by the network. This to me shows they are willing to listen to die hard fans. Kevin Reilly at the same time goes over to Fox and agrees to do Dollhouse but then tries to make it a mainstream megahit which is at odds with the premise of the show and he eventually has to cancel it. Mitch Hurwitz came back to television with Sit Down Shut up they made him turn it into one of their cartoon comedies and do potty mouth humor, it still failed. NBC has had some terrible failures but it has also had some of the best scripted network success of the 00s. 30 Rock lived while Arrested Development died. I think NBC and Zucker are blamed for too much.

September 28 2010 at 1:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MALLERY VS NBCU

WARNING TO ALL ARTISTS ABOUT NBC AND JEFF ZUCKER:
This email is about two artists that were put on trial in a NYC court without their knowledge by the tv network NBC and a NYC judge because NBC's CEO Jeff Zucker and Tim Kring of the American tv show
" Heroes" are so desperate for ratings and hit tv shows, that NBC representatives are now attending artists film screenings, art exhibits etc... to steal the artist copyrighted intellectual property to create content for NBC like the failure called" Heroes."
( Google ENJAI EELE to read more).
The lawsuit " Mallery vs NBC Universal" which recently went before The Supreme Court is a great example of this fact.
Tim Kring did an admission of guilt in the media at:
http://blog.the-eg.com/2007/12/04/tim-kring
Where Tim Kring states: "In Hollywood they say if Hitler wrote a great screenplay they'd send a limo to the airport to pick him up... Great creativity comes from everywhere, I was flubbed(before) and I didn't just want a show on the air, I wanted something big, bold and wanted to prove them wrong. Only problem was I didn't have an idea, so I was just left angry and worried about it... I lied and cheated and schemed and manipulated all the way through the idiocy that is the notes process when you do this, was able to push the production through relatively unscathed and in the form that it would work in.
That's how Heroes got on the air. It's not the most original idea in the world, you build and borrow. Just put these pieces together in the right way, at the right time, and on the right network".

Tim Kring didn't stop there.....
at http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/125/rebel-alliance.html written by David Kushner April 11, 2008 Tim Kring also stated to the media:" We are literally making up the parameters of the intellectual property that will take the networks into the next generation. We're the beta-testing ground. It's a wild west: There are no rules. Just take something and go try it".

Question: Why is Tim Kring " making up the parameter" of something that's already set?

The NYC artist that can paint the future on large canvas which was featured on "Heroes" is a original copyrighted character named "Idai Markus" based on a real life Luba divination artist named Enjai Eele.
Eele and his Twin Amnau Eele were first written about by arts editor Danny Simmons and writer Quashell Curtis in Russell Simmons "One World Magazine" July 2001 and The NY Daily News by Daily Beast and NY Magazine editor Lloyd Grove on August 5, 2004 article titled: "Future Tribeca Stars"?
The "One World" magazine and NY Daily News articles led to "The Twins" as we are known in the NYC art world to being invited to screen our 15 minute short film "The Letter" starring Robert Deniro , our Luba divination art on September 11,2001, the storms Katrina and Rita and our script/novel titled "The Twins: Journey Of The Soul " on the fictional character "Idai Markus the artist that can paint the future on large canvas before it happens" to the students in the art dept at Hunter College NYC April 2005 which was attended by NBC representatives like Bryan Fuller that claim they heard about our Hunter College show on the Associated Press and by September 2006 our Luba divination art, characters, concepts etc... were on the tv show
" Heroes" as the number one show in America with a growing worldwide audience of over 45 million viewers.

Idai Markus the drug free NYC African-American artist that could paint the future on large canvas became Isaac Mendez the NYC Latino artist that could paint the future on large canvas , but only after he shot up drugs.
We filed a copyright infringement and defamation lawsuit against NBC in March 2007.
NBC then killed off the" artist that could paint the future with a dope problem" sending the fans into a rage,
Tim Kring became angry and called the show's few fans that were left "saps and Dip-shits for not watching and the rest of this tragic copyright fable is in the plaintiffs Supreme Court Cert in Washington, D.C.

NOTE: Why was the plaintiffs work so valuable to NBC?
Because the plaintiff, Luba Divination Artist Enjai Eele divined, painted and copyrighted before September 11, 2001 a "Luba Memory Board"(36x 48 inches, oil on canvas) titled: "The Atta Page" which depicted two planes crashing into the twin towers in NYC on 9-11 and the message that" A man named Atta will attack the twin towers on September 11 because t

September 25 2010 at 8:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kireet

Not totally fair to put Outsourced in that list, since the pilot was legitimately funny (Indian people can laugh at themselves, trust me) and I can totally see it blooming into something wonderful, a la Parks and Recreation. But yeah I agree with pretty much everything else

September 25 2010 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Kireet's comment
Brett

It's absolutely fair to put Outsourced there. It's terrible and slightly offensive.

September 25 2010 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kireet

I'm an Indian man and I was absolutely not offended at all; neither were my parents, friends, my parents' friends. In fact, I couldn't find a single Indian person who actually took any genuine offense to the show. The show makes a few stereotypical jokes (Manmeet comes to mind), but that comes with the territory. You're not gonna tell me you've never snickered at a weird Indian name (I do it all the time).

As for the "terrible" part, look, it's a pilot. Frankly, I don't care whether you watch it or not, but it's not fair to judge the show (or any show, really) based on just the pilot. Parks and Rec's pilot was terrible, The Office's pilot was terrible, Big Bang Theory's pilot was terrible, hell, even Seinfeld's pilot wasn't all that funny. Give the show some time to grow.

Here's an idea: just completely forget about the show for a while, and come back to a random episode six or seven weeks from now, and tell me what you think then.

September 25 2010 at 11:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael K Pate

I watched 3 shows on NBC this week: Chuck, The Event, and Undercovers. The Jury is out on whether 2/3rd of them are still going to be on the schedule by the sweeps.

September 25 2010 at 7:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
t

Give 'em hell Mo!

September 25 2010 at 12:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wendy

But now who will provide 30 Rock with material? :P

September 24 2010 at 10:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
olddarth

Failed ever upward.

Tell us how you really feel Mo. :)

Seriously though, kudos for shooting straight.

September 24 2010 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
troublein212

Excellent post. Don't forget two very good shows that weren't promoted or backed by NBC because they were considered too "controversial" or provocative.
The Book of Daniel and Studio 60. Great casts, writers and storylines.

September 24 2010 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to troublein212's comment
tingrin87

Book of daniel was a great show, but too controversial - i think my NBC affil (Charlotte NC, WCNC) initially refused to air it. And my understanding of Studio 60 was that it was too expensive for the number of viewers it was getting (hmmm, i remember hearing something about cost-per-viewer when we were sold the Jay Leno Show)

September 25 2010 at 5:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe

I thought Zucker was something of a pig, but is the decline of NBC really his fault? I love Chuck, but no amount of promotion on any network will make that a huge hit. I think that probably applies to all of the shows you listed as "good."

What does everyone want NBC to do? Start pumping out quirky humorous procedurals and/or quirky humorous romantic dramas? And, as for Heroes, what was NBC supposed to do when the show creators went off the rails? Zucker supposed to bring in J.J. Abrams or something?

September 24 2010 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
king

so i was a little bit unclear, did you like zucker or not? ;)

September 24 2010 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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