“It’s been Jeff all along.”
NYP Exclusive! Former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker is set to sign on as the new boss of CNN’s global news operations, The Post has learned.
Zucker, 47, has been the lead candidate for one of the most important roles inside Time Warner since boss Jeff Bewkes began looking for a new leader to reinvent the flagging flagship news network.
While some minor details still have to be worked out and may still scuttle the deal, sources warned, it appeared that an announcement concerning the hiring of Zucker could be forthcoming in a matter of days.
“It’s been Jeff all along,” one source said late yesterday. “It was not a good fit at NBCUniversal, and he made some enemies, but this is a chance for him to refresh. It’s really good for him.”
Zucker is currently executive producer of the daytime show “Katie,” featuring Katie Couric, the telegenic former co-host of “Today,” which Zucker oversaw for nearly two decades.
Zucker’s “Katie” obligation runs only to the end of the year, sources said, though any new gig, such as the CNN job, could be complicated by his part-ownership in the syndicated show, distributed by Disney.
Zucker would replace CNN boss Jim Walton, who is leaving Dec. 31.
The only real competition for Zucker was Mark Shapiro, a former ESPN boss — but CNN’s conversations with Shapiro never went very far.
Zucker began his career as one of the youngest news producers in the business. He ran “Today” back in 1992 and went on to have a wider role at NBC News before ultimately winning control of the entertainment division and later becoming CEO of NBCUniversal.
But after years of success, Zucker’s career at NBCU ended harshly, and his reputation as having a talent for picking hit shows was sullied.
A return to TV as head of CNN would present Zucker with a chance to write a comeback story — and tweak NBCU at the same time.
Zucker exited when Comcast acquired 49 percent of NBCU almost two years ago.
Maybe he’ll fire that annoying, tedious, celebrity whore narcissist Piers Morgan.
Eight days ago the NYP ran an item, presumably from the notorious media leaker Couric, warning the star was talking to lawyers about Jeff bailing to CNN.
Despite rumors of friction with Zucker over the possibility of him leaving so soon after the debut of her show, the source argued, “There is no bad blood. Katie understands he wants a big job and will eventually leave. This isn’t about suing him, this is about her getting the best overall deal for herself, and if in the event he does leave, she has proper counsel ready.” Couric’s rep said, “Syndication is complicated, so I’m sure Katie has consulted lawyers. Katie and Jeff are excited about the show’s success and are having a great time working together.
Former CNN head Tim Johnson cautions CNN to “not attempt to outfox Fox” Brian Stelter NYT.
Johnson believes CNN requires “a leader who will position CNN as The New York Times of television news — not The New York Post or The National Enquirer” to right what Stelter characterizes as a “seemingly rudderless” network “run by layers of producers and executives — many with competing visions. Its low prime-time ratings are the stuff of punch lines and a journalism school case study in the damage wrought by the digital age.”