Jeff Zucker will walk away from the new Comcast-owned NBC Universal as much as $40 million richer, reports The New York Post’s (and B&C alum) Claire Atkinson.
According to Atkinson’s sources, Zucker will leave the new company “a couple of months” after the deal closes. That’s expected to happen early next year pending regulatory approval. Sources “close to the company” deny the truth of those reports and GE released a statement saying that reports of an exit package are “not true.” Officially, Zucker is signed to remain with the company through 2013, two years past the deal’s expected closing date.
Zucker, however, has recently told people, including The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, that he might be interested in running for U.S. Senator from New York, which don’t seem like the thoughts of a man who expects to be in his job for years to come. (A commenter from the earlier post I wrote on this topic noted that Zucker has in fact been declaring his future political intentions for a while — at least since he arrived in Los Angeles as NBC’s president of entertainment.) There also have been many rumblings in the industry that Zucker, who is largely credited with the mess made by moving Jay Leno to 10 p.m., would not remain in his current job once the deal closes.
Should Zucker depart, there are several executives in line for the company’s top creative job, which is expected to report in to Comcast COO Steve Burke. According to Atkinson, these capable candidates include Jeff Gaspin, currently chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment; Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment; Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal’s women and lifestyle entertainment networks and Jeff Shell, Comcast’s president of programming.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m available if someone wants to pay me $40 million to quit something.