CNN's Jay Leno Special Omits Jeff Zucker's Role in Conan O'Brien Debacle

Aaron Couch
January 31, 2014

CNN aired a look at Jay Leno's life and career Friday, but the special omitted a key part of the story – CNN head Jeff Zucker's role in the famous 2009 Leno-Conan O'Brien late night debacle.

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Zucker ran NBC during Leno's first transition from The Tonight Show, and famously promised Conan O'Brien he would get the job in 2009. Seven months later – after slipping ratings and O'Brien publicly attacking the network, Leno was restored to his former perch as Tonight Show host and O'Brien left the network.

The CNN special did reference former NBC head Warren Littlefield's role in the 1992 Tonight Show transition between Johnny Carson and Leno.

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As THR previously reported, Zucker is among those courting Leno for after he leaves the Tonight Show. Leno's final Tonight Show airs Thursday, Feb. 6. His last guest is scheduled to be Billy Crystal, who was also the host's first guest.

CNN plans to re-air its Leno special on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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