- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jeff Zucker, who made his mark as executive producer of NBC’s “Today” show, is expected to be named chief executive of NBC Universal this week, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Mr. Zucker, 41, will succeed Bob Wright, who has headed the network for 21 years, company sources told the Los Angeles Times.

An NBC spokesman did not return a message left by the Associated Press yesterday.

NBC Universal is angling itself to compete against online forces such as Google, YouTube and MySpace.

Mr. Wright, 63, had planned to stay on as CEO at least until the end of the year. But Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of General Electric Co., the owner of NBC Universal, insisted on an immediate transition, said company sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the switch hadn’t been announced.

The casual, creative Mr. Zucker is seen as a contrast to the more cerebral and buttoned-down Mr. Wright. He has been Mr. Wright’s second in command since December 2005 and has long been considered the favorite to succeed his boss.

The Harvard graduate joined the network in 1986 as a sports researcher for its Olympics coverage. He moved to “Today” in 1989, and three years later, at 26, became the show’s executive producer.

In 2000, Mr. Zucker took over NBC’s prime-time entertainment division. He kept profits up by extending “Friends” for two additional seasons and by embracing reality shows such as “The Apprentice” and “Fear Factor.”

Besides its headquarters in New York, NBC Universal has West Coast operations that include Universal Studios, KNBC Channel 4, two Spanish-language television stations, and TV and film production facilities in Universal City and Burbank.

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