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Cast-off Crist goes it alone

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That's true, Zucker said: "It's funny how much attention that's gotten. It's no different than what I've said all along." He said he would run in New York and that, if he were to take the plunge, "it's all about the timing."

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The onetime "Today" producer joked that he would draw far less scrutiny as a candidate than he does running a major media company.

Speaking of that company, Zucker seemed unruffled that in Comcast's successful bid to buy NBC Universal, the broadcast network and the movie studio were deemed to be worth little compared with such cable channels as CNBC, USA, Bravo and Syfy.

"We've thought about it in the past, should we change the name of the company?" But, he added, "it doesn't disappoint us, it didn't upset us that people talked about that [that the cable channels are the real moneymakers]. That's who we are."

Noting that NBC has been first in news but fourth -- perhaps soon to be third! -- on the entertainment front, Zucker said: "NBC Entertainment is 5 percent of our bottom line and 95 percent of our perception."

Conan speaks

Even Zucker hasn't denied that the Jay-Conan mess turned out to be a huge mistake. Now, in his first post-debacle interview, with "60 Minutes," O'Brien says he would not have done what Leno did if he had been the one to hand off "Tonight" to a successor.

"He went and took that show back and I think in a similar situation, if roles had been reversed, I know -- I know me, I wouldn't have done that," Conan tells Steve Kroft in an interview for Sunday. "If I had surrendered 'The Tonight Show' and handed it over to somebody publicly and wished them well -- and then. . . . six months later. But that's me, you know. Everyone's got their own, you know, way of doing things." Conan said he would have "done something else, go someplace else." He said he couldn't remain with NBC, even at midnight, because he concluded that "this relationship is going be toxic."

At the same time, Conan's ratings plummeted, leading NBC management to conclude that he couldn't broaden his appeal beyond young men.

Pressuring journalists

Is the Obama administration prosecuting leak cases as fervently as the Bush administration? That's what some lawyers tell me after the Justice Department subpoena issued this week to NYT national-security reporter James Risen over his book on the CIA.

Getting Rielle

John Edwards's mistress stepped into the Oprah spotlight, and the interview demonstrated several things: She is no dummy, she is madly in love with the guy, she has a tin ear for how loopy she can sound, and she admits it was a "huge mistake" to pose pantsless for GQ. Ya think?

Alessandra Stanley delivers a poison-pen verdict:

"Rielle Hunter, who told Oprah Winfrey in a program broadcast on Thursday that John Edwards had a secret affair with her because 'he wanted to live a life of truth,' is a tough interview, tougher in some ways than President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.


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