According to the Huffington Press, NBC executive Dick Ebersol trashed Conan O'Brien in a provocative interview with the New York Times' Bill Carter, calling Conan an "astounding failure" and saying his jokes about Jay Leno have been "chicken-hearted and gutless."
(Image of Conan O'Brien on the "Tonight Show" on NBC - Image from NBC - All Rights Reserved).
Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Universal Sports and NBC's Olympics guru, lit up on Conan just after his boss, NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker, reportedly threatened to keep Conan off the air for 3.5 years.
Ebersol described Conan's jokes about Leno as "chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn't beat in the ratings."
He added, "what this is really all about is an astounding failure by Conan."
The NBC Party line is that Conan is the cause of the current controversy swirling around Jay Leno and The Tonight Show.
NBC is placing all the blame on Conan for not being able to deliver on the ratings for "Tonight Show". What NBC critics are pointing out is that NBC set Leno's show to air at 10 PM EST which caused local news stations to suffer as a result causing a major ripple effect extending to Conan and Jimmy Fallon.
Other critics are pointing out that some of NBC's successful TV properties were shelved in favor of making way for Leno at the controversial timeslot which required Leno to rework his show into a more family friendly timeslot. It also allowed competing networks to successfully grab disgruntled audiences who were upset by the cancellation of some of their favorite shows and to jump to a new network.
Many of Conan's fans are blaming NBC for the current fiasco, regardless of his jabs at NBC and Leno. In fact, there is a call for a boycott of Leno's return to "Tonight Show" in order to show NBC how displeased the fans are.
Will a fan boycott really happen? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the controversy continues and it has become a he said-she said finger pointing PR nightmare for NBC.
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