Jeff Zucker

Jeff Zucker Biography

Jeffrey "Jeff" Zucker (born April 9, 1965) is the current president of CNN Worldwide. He previously served as the President and CEO of NBC Universal. Zucker has also served as an Executive in Residence at Columbia Business School. In November 2012, Zucker was picked to take over as the President of CNN in January 2013.

Personal life

Zucker was born into a Jewish family in Homestead, Florida, near Miami. His father was a cardiologist, and his mother, Arlene, was a school teacher. He had a religious upbringing and was bar mitzvahed and confirmed at Temple Israel, a reform synagogue in South Florida. He has a younger sister, Pam.

He was captain of the North Miami Senior High School tennis team, editor of the school paper, and a teenage freelance reporter ("stringer") for The Miami Herald. The Zucker also served as president of his senior class, running on the slogan: "The little man with the big ideas." Before college, he took part in Northwestern University's National High School Institute program for journalism.

Zucker went on to Harvard University, serving as President of the school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, during his senior year. As President of the Crimson, Zucker encouraged the decades-old prank rivalry with the Harvard Lampoon, headed by future NBC colleague Conan O'Brien. Zucker recounts how O'Brien lived in the same dormitory and ran the Lampoon, which, he said, made them "natural rivals." Zucker studied abroad in Madrid in 1983 through IES Abroad. He graduated Harvard in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in American history.

In 1996, Zucker married Caryn Stephanie Nathanson, then a supervisor for Saturday Night Live, with whom he has four children.

Zucker was diagnosed at age 31 with colon cancer. He worked through two bouts of it, had a large part of his colon removed, and then had more than a year of chemotherapy. He is currently a member of Temple Emanu-El in New York City.

Career at NBC


When he was not admitted to Harvard Law School, he was hired by NBC in 1986 to research information for its coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Producer of Today Show

In 1989, he was a field producer for Today, and at 26 he became its executive producer in 1992. He introduced the program's trademark outdoor rock concert series and was in charge as Today moved to the "window on the world" Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza in 1994. Under his leadership, Today was the nation's most-watched morning news program, with viewership during the 2000-01 season reaching the highest point in the show's history.

President of NBC Entertainment

In 2000, he was named NBC Entertainment's president. A 2004 Businessweek Profile stated that "During that time he oversaw NBC's entire entertainment schedule. He kept the network ahead of the pack by airing the gross out show Fear Factor, negotiating for the cast of the hit series Friends to take the series up to a tenth season, and signing Donald Trump for the reality show The Apprentice. The Zucker era produced a spike in operating earnings for NBC, from $532 million the year he took over to $870 million in 2003."

Zucker put his mark on the network with Las Vegas, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Scrubs. He originated the idea of airing "Supersized" (longer than the standard 30 minute slot) episodes of NBC's comedies and aggressively programming in the summer months as cable networks began to draw away viewers with original programming from the network's rerun-filled summer slate. Also on Zucker's watch, Bravo changed its programming direction towards reality television, seeing much growth with that strategy, while the newly acquired Spanish network Telemundo was positioned to be more competitive with leading network Univision."

President of NBC Entertainment's News & Cable Group

In December 2003, he was promoted to president of NBC's Entertainment, News & Cable Group as well.

President of NBC Television Group

Following the merger with French media empire Vivendi Universal, he was promoted to president of its Television Group in May 2004. Zucker's responsibilities, which already included NBC's cable channels, were expanded to include TV production as well as the USA Network, Sci-Fi, and Trio cable channels. During Zucker's tenure, NBC slid from first place to fourth place in the ratings. Shows that Zucker championed such as Father of the Pride and the Friends spinoff Joey were considered failures.

Chief Executive Officer of NBC

On December 15, 2005, Zucker was again promoted by NBC, to Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal Television Group behind Robert Charles Wright, vice chairman of General Electric and chairman & CEO of NBC Universal. Zucker was responsible for all programming across the company's television properties, including network, news, cable, and Sports and Olympics. His responsibilities also included the company's studio operations and global distribution efforts. Zucker reported to Bob Wright until 2007.

President & CEO of NBC Universal

Zucker was promoted on February 6, 2007, to the position of president & CEO of NBC Universal, replacing Bob Wright, who held the position at NBC Universal, and before that, at NBC, for 21 years.

Main article: 2010 Tonight Show conflict
In 2010, in response to a public controversy over the network's reported rescheduling of late-night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, Los Angeles Times reporters Meg James and Matea Gold declared that Zucker's tenure had led to "a spectacular fall by the country's premier television network" and dubbed the intra-network feud and subsequent public relations fallout "one of the biggest debacles in television history". Under Zucker NBC fell from being the number one rated network to the lowest rated of the four broadcast networks and was occasionally being beaten in the ratings by programming on some of the more popular cable channels.

Days later, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that in Hollywood "there has been a single topic of discussion: How does Jeff Zucker keep rising and rising while the fortunes of NBC keep falling and falling? ...many in the Hollywood community have always regarded him as ...a network Napoleon who never bothered to learn about developing shows and managing talent." She explained that Zucker "is a master at managing up with bosses and calculating cost-per-hour benefits, but even though he made money on cable shows, he could not program the network to save his life."

Dowd also reported that an unnamed "honcho at another network" stated that "Zucker is a case study in the most destructive media executive ever to exist... You'd have to tell me who else has taken a once-great network and literally destroyed it."

On June 2, 2010, the New York Post reported that Zucker would be paid between $30 million and $40 million to leave NBC Universal shortly after Comcast completes its 51 percent acquisition in the company.

Katie producer

Zucker reunited with former Today host Katie Couric to produce her daytime talk show for Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Katie. However Zucker left the show to be the president of CNN Worldwide.

President of CNN Worldwide

On November 29, 2012, CNN announced the appointment of Zucker as president of CNN Worldwide starting January 1, 2013.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jeff_Zucker" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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