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Late Night Wars: What Price Will NBC, Leno and Zucker Pay?

Late Night Wars: What Price Will NBC, Leno and Zucker Pay?

Thompson on Hollywood

You don’t have a mess like the Late Night Wars without fallout. Winners and losers are inevitable.

Winners: pugnacious Jimmy Kimmel; NBC Universal consigliere Ron Meyer, who helped to broker the settlement; and Conan O’Brien, who may have lost The Tonight Show, but walks away with his dignity intact, public support and $30 million.

Losers: Jay Leno, who wins a Pyrrhic victory as he takes back his old job, but may lose ratings and popularity in this messy slag-fest; and NBC, which lost hundreds of millions in the long run. As for NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker, who plans to attend the Golden Globes Sunday, many wonder how long new NBC Universal owner Comcast will hang onto him.

Kim Masters surveys the NBC damage.

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