Friday, October 20, 2006

Zucker Punch

152 Zucker Punch

So NBC has decided to carve up the peacock like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Aging vunderkind Jeff Zucker the more-or-less head guy and certainly the head-headcount reducer has decided not to spend mega-millions on prime time programming and instead put on more of the cheap and vapid game and reality shows that are the “adult westerns” of today.

Not a bad idea, considering the other rot they’ve had in the last few years. They rode the number one spot in prime time for many more years that statistics would suggest they should. Now, they’ve sunk to #4 in what is essentially a three way race.

“Seinfeld" was a hit but called itself "a show about nothing." What followed was less.

But here’s the curious part. They lead in the early mornings and for Nightly News. And in the name of efficiency they’re going into that part of the bird's innards with the knife, too. That squeal of agony you hear is Steve Capus, newly minted president of the news division,$ tearing out his beard in anguish.

Here’s their idea of efficiency: Establish a business news channel and plunk it in a plush New Jersey suburb. Low-ish cost, no unions, etc.

Then establish a cable news channel that should by rights be number one but never has been. Put it in a swamp where they used to raise pigs and parcel out many – if not most – of the jobs to a temp services agency.

Now, years later, bring the news cable channel back to New York, where they have lots of room because they’ve fired everyone else they could find. Plus, they own the parts of the General Electric (Nee RCA) Building where they’re headquartered and ownership abhors a vacuum.

They haven’t said so, but they’re going to “consolidate” jobs. Which means Matt Lauer and Brian Williams will have to stay late and sweep up, directors will have to time their own shows and teleprompters and field crews will be staffed by NBC Pages and high school sophomores. Production associates will be drawn from the ranks of the leading Middle Schools.

Zucker and Capus will handle the plumbing and electrical chores. Retirees will be brought in as consultants to for both the writing chores and elevator maintenance.

Pierre the security guard will continue at his desk in the lobby, but will also be operating the transmitter and polishing the brass banisters.

Didn’t they just open a New Orleans bureau (after Katrina in a barn door-stolen horse arrangement?)

Well, maybe they’ll close it and cover from Atlanta. They can’t give Atlanta up because they still owe on the loan. But they can lean-down some of the money-draining lesser bureaus. Like Washington. Now that Greenspan’s out, who needs Andrea Mitchell? And Russert… does he get overtime for that Sunday show?

Huntley and Brinkley are rotating in their graves. Huntley clockwise to the right, Brinkley counterclockwise to the left.

When you have peacock for dinner, do you get yams and cranberry sauce? Maybe. You may also get crow pie for dessert.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

Disclaimer: Zucker and Pierre are acquaintances, Capus is a friend.

(c) 2006 WJR

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