NBC’s Jeff Zucker Pays Homage to O’Brien Rivalry

Flyby Blog

As the illustrious career of Jeffrey A. Zucker '86, CEO of NBC Universal, nears an end, it appears that one "healthy rivalry" will still remain.

Reminiscing about his life at Harvard as President of The Harvard Crimson, Zucker spoke of his days teasing fellow student Conan C. O’Brien '85, a past President of the Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine.

The two had a fair share of laughs during their time living together in the same House. Despite some recent tensions regarding O'Brien's contract that may have distanced the two graduates, Zucker and O'Brien were notorious for the pranks directed at each other during their time at Harvard.

Zucker fondly remembers the rivalry, especially the time when he "caught the Lampoon red handed in the street" after members of the organization had attempted to steal the President's chair from The Crimson. He managed to persuade police officers to arrest O'Brien and his fellow Lampoon thieves, making them sit "for like twelve hours" in a Cambridge jail.

Earlier this year, O'Brien recalled the same incident, stating that his first meeting with Zucker "was in handcuffs, with a Cambridge police officer reading [him his] rights."

Zucker is planning to step down from his job as CEO after Comcast takes over NBC in the spring. Why would he allude to the rivalry at a time so near the end of his career? We can only assume that the significance of the Crimson/Lampoon rivalry is as important now as it ever was.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This post has been revised to reflect the following the corrections:

CORRECTION: December 13, 2010

An earlier version of the Dec. 13 FlyBy post "NBC's Zucker Pays Homage to O'Brien Rivalry" incorrectly suggested that Zucker was an employee of CBS. In fact, Zucker is the President and CEO of NBC Universal.

CORRECTION: December 14, 2010

The post also incorrectly stated that Zucker and O'Brien lived in the same freshman dormitory. In fact, Zucker and O'Brien did not live in the same freshman dormitory, but they did both live in Mather.

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