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

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 16, 2010 at 2:53AM

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

This article is related to: News, TV


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.