Zucker's favorite things
NBC Universal's new CEO tells employees what he's watching -- and why Fox's American Idol is 'the most important show in the history of television.' Fortune's Patricia Sellers reports.
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Amidst the maelstrom of must-dos hitting NBC Universal's new CEO - boot Don Imus, manage Alec Baldwin, turn around NBC, determine the company's digital future - Jeff Zucker has been trying to get to know his 16,000 employees. He's been holding monthly lunches and breakfasts with small groups.
Zucker let Fortune sit in on a recent breakfast at the Grill restaurant on the Universal Studios lot near Los Angeles. Dressed in a purple shirt, orange tie and beige linen suit - how Hollywood! - he introduced himself to about 100 employees of NBC Universal Television Studios, the company's in-house production arm known as NUTS.
After they introduced themselves one by one to him, Zucker fielded questions. Many employees wanted to know how he consumes media. Here's what he said:
What's your favorite movie? "Casablanca."
What's your all-time favorite TV show? The Honeymooners. It has the best line in TV: 'Address the ball. Hello, ball!'
What do you watch live? Keith Olbermann (on MSNBC). Also, Bill O'Reilly on Fox.
What do you record on your DVR? The Office. Heroes. Friday Night Lights - it may be the best show on television. 30 Rock, the funniest show on TV. I still love ER. I watch Grey's Anatomy (on ABC) with my wife, frankly.
Zucker talked about American Idol pulling viewers away from some of NBC's best shows. Later he tells me, "I believe it's the most important show in the history of television. Not only because of what it does for the Fox network, giving them a victory each year. Also because of what it does to the competition. It's the most offensive and defensive show of all time."
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