Katie Couric, Alec Baldwin, Brian Williams, Mark Feuerstein and Lorne Michaels took turns roasting outgoing CEO of NBC Universal Jeff Zucker at the Center for Communication’s annual Frank Stanton award luncheon at the Pierre Hotel in New York today. According to news reports, Couric, in a subtle reference to the recent comments by Rick Sanchez that Jews control the media, called Zucker “living proof that Jews may control the media, but that doesn’t mean they’re good at it.” She took a shot at both NBC’s and her own ratings woes at third-ranked CBS Evening News. “There’s no surprise he was drawn to a game where the lowest score wins,” she said about Zucker, referring to his passion for golf. “He showed me that being in third place really isn’t that bad.” Michaels gave Zucker props for keeping Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show in the show’s final week when the comedian was blasting the NBC Uni CEO night after night. “I doubt that would have happened at CBS. It definitely would not have happened at The Walt Disney Co. – they’re far too well run. Possibly at Fox.” Williams said the award has “a kiss of death” to it, a reference to the fact that former Viacom CEO Tom Freston too was pushed out of Viacom just a few weeks before receiving the Frank Stanton award.
Zucker also played off the coincidence, warning other industry types who get the news that they would be honored by the Center the following year to “run – do not return the call. And start lining up your next gig now.” As for all the jabs he got from the speakers, “I haven’t felt so much love since I sat down with Steve Burke a few weeks ago,” Zucker quipped, referring to the now infamous sit-down with then-Comcast COO and now his successor as NBC Uni CEO, in which Burke told him he was being let go.