Jeff Zucker appeared on "Charlie Rose" Monday and acknowledged that the decision to move Conan O'Brien to the "Tonight Show" and Jay Leno to 10PM was "a mistake."
"Ultimately, it did not pan out. It was a mistake," Zucker said.
Zucker told Rose that he has received "death threats" in the last two weeks, since the NBC drama has played out in the public.
"People calling me names in the big scheme of things and people delivering death threats over a program moving back a half-hour is really incredibly out of context," he said.
"I wished that Conan had found a way to stay and do 12:05. Ultimately, he couldn't get his head around it," Zucker said, adding that NBC believes "Jay will go back to 11:35 and be successful."
Zucker also defended his 2004 decision to give Conan the "Tonight Show" on the grounds that it held NBC's late-night lineup intact for over five years.
"That kept our late night franchise of Jay and Conan intact for five and a half additional years," he said. "It kept Conan from leaving for a competitor at that point...so I think, actually, that was the right decision at that time and I have no regrets....Obviously in hindsight, perfect information leads you to [the] conclusion that it was a mistake. And I think it's the sign of a leader to step up and have the guts to reverse it. The worst thing to do is to let that mistake...linger. We tried to correct something that didn't work."
WATCH excerpts via NYMag: