Jeff Zucker Kisses Off Katie Couric

“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.”

Related:  “Can Jeff Zucker Save CNN?”  The AtlanticMust-read Reuters via Huff Post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 5:22 AM

  • Jimbotalk

    CNN, get set to lovingly recall the good old days of  Jim Walton.

    • Marty Davis

       Why do you say that, Jim?

    • frannie

      maybe because he is going to further crap it up…..

    • Marty Davis

       Like he did NBC prime?

    • Jimbotalk

      Yes.  Walton will soon seem like the good old days.

  • John Cobb

    This is great News, if you enjoy hi drama/comedy,  Olbermann will be back at 8pm, that should liven things up at CNN.

    What better way to juice the ratings.

    • Marty Davis

      Olbermann is damaged goods, John.  I cannot fathom anybody hiring Olbermann except baseball.

    • John Cobb

      Marty, that does not matter, it’s like sports, you can put up with a Diva, as long as they produce.
      Olbermann, for all his flaws, would be the best bet at 8pm, and Laura at 9 could balance it out as far as politics go.

      Of course Olbey will flare out, he always does.

      Also, it would be a kick in the pants of NBC by Zucker for firing him,  if it works.

    • Marty Davis

       Please, God, don’t let that happen.  I’m glad I don’t have CNN on my DISH.

  • John Cobb

    Marty, how about Laura Ingraham at 9pm and Olbermann at 8pm, now you’re talking fireworks.

    • Marty Davis

      I can see Laura Ingraham on CNN.  She’d lure eyeballs.  Maybe that’s why she quit radio yesterday.

    • keyboard jockey

      I think Ingraham and a number of conservative guest would do the trick. There is a deep bench of lady conservative talkers. 

      I think one of the best programs CNN had was Rick Sanchez’s “The List”. 

      CNN needs to drop their multicultural approach to programming.  They need to target the demographic that actually consumes cable news product. 

    • Marty Davis

       But does CNN go left or right?

    • keyboard jockey

      Marty going left hasn’t worked for CNN in the past. If you look at their line up it’s like the United Nations. CNN has tried to be all things to all liberals. The multicultural approach to programming. The demographic that consumes their product “cable news” are not concerned with their politically correct multicultural pablum. 

    • Marty Davis

      After reading Jeff Zucker’s comments after he was named Thursday, I think he’s going news/entertainment.

    • keyboard jockey

      Marty,  if Jeff Zucker is going news/ entertainment CNN’s sister network HLN already tried that with Joy Behar and she was canceled. 

      Instead of the cable news networks trying to recreate what works on the network channels, for instance “The View” they should innovate, my above example Rick Sanchez’s “The List” the program format was working, it was the on air personality that was glitching 😉

    • Marty Davis

       You’re right about “The List,” KJ.  It was social media-driven.  Sanchez was the problem. 

      Zucker claims he’s looking for “vibrant” “exciting” broadcasters.

      Jo Behar is neither vibrant nor exciting.  I suspect Zucker wil veer from negativity to make CNN entertaining.