NBC Exec Admits Late-Night ‘Mistake,’ Received Death Threats

by | January 21, 2010 at 10:01 AM | The Tonight Show, TV News

NBC Honcho Jeff Zucker (Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

NBC Honcho Jeff Zucker (Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

Jeff Zucker, NBC’s man behind the late-night shakeup, took to ‘Charlie Rose‘ Monday and admitted it was “a mistake” to put Jay Leno on in prime-time and give Conan O’Brien ‘The Tonight Show.’

Not only has Zucker stirred up controversy and garnered headlines in tabloids and mainstream press, he also claims to have received death threats over the whole matter.

“People calling me names in the big scheme of things and people delivering death threats over a program moving back a half-hour is really incredibly out of context,” Zucker told Charlie Rose.

As for O’Brien refusing to take the 12:05 slot, Zucker still wishes the comedian would have agreed to the move. “Ultimately, he couldn’t get his head around it.”

Despite his acknowledging the situation was a mistake, Zucker says he has no regrets. Instead, he is staying positive about Leno and says, “Jay will go back to 11:35 and be successful.”

Just don’t expect NBC to pull any punches as O’Brien gears up to leave. The network scoffed at his recent push to get severance packages for the ‘Tonight Show’ staff.

“It was Conan’s decision to leave NBC that resulted in the nearly 200 of his staffers being out of work,” NBC said. “This latest posturing is nothing more than a PR ploy.”

NBC confirmed Thursday that Conan O’Brien made an exit deal worth $45 million and Jay Leno returns to host ‘The Tonight Show’ beginning March 1st.