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Jeff Zucker Once Criticized CBS for Having Julie Chen Host ‘Big Brother’

It was the summer of 2000 at the annual Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. Three “Today” show anchors — Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and Ann Curry — were present at an NBC session to promote the morning show’s then-upcoming extension from two hours to three hours each weekday morning.

In addition, they, along with “Today” executive producer Jeff Zucker, commented on their morning competition at the time, “The Early Show” on CBS. Their concern was “The Early Show” anchor Julie Chen being used to also host the network’s prime time reality competition series “Big Brother,” which had debuted just two weeks prior to this press tour session.

In a July 20, 2000 New York Daily News article, Ann Curry stated that the “idea of doing an entertainment program is something that I would never consider.” Couric added “I think that sometimes viewers are a bit confused, because you have these reality shows and they might not be that different than some of the pieces that might be on newsmagazines.”

The end of the article mentions Zucker with the following:

“Today’s” executive producer, Jeff Zucker, acknowledged that morning news programs aren’t exactly journalistically pristine. The “Today” show, he said, “is obviously a hybrid show and it runs the gamut from very serious to sometimes very silly.

“Even so,” he said, “I think it would be inappropriate to participate in the way CBS has decided to use Julie. . . . I think it’s improper, and even when you’re in that situation , you shouldn’t do it.

A lot has occurred since this 2000 press tour. Couric left NBC in 2006 for an eventual short-lived stint as the lead anchor of CBS News. After briefly being with ABC and Disney, she has since reported for online portal Yahoo.

Curry departed “Today” in 2012 as a result of an alleged power maneuver by Lauer, which led to the show falling behind ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the morning news ratings (as of 2017, the two programs are neck-and-neck for leadership).

Chen is currently in her 19th season as “Big Brother” host as well as her seventh year as lead host of daytime’s “The Talk” on CBS.

Zucker would eventually leave NBC and in 2013, became president of CNN. Here are some of the ways CNN’s anchors have been used on the network’s non-news programs under his reign: