Mark Lazarus to succeed Dick Ebersol as head of NBC Sports
Mark Lazarus, a former high-ranking executive at Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, will succeed Dick Ebersol as the top sports executive at NBCUniversal.
Lazarus was brought in by new NBCUniversal owner Comcast Corp. last December to oversee the media giant's cable sports channels and work on integrating that unit with NBC Sports.
When he was first tapped by Comcast, the assumption in the industry was that he would ultimately succeed Ebersol.
However, that it happened this soon, less than four months after Comcast closed on its deal to take control of NBCUniversal, was a surprise. Comcast had been working on a new employment agreement with Ebersol, however they could not come to terms on a pact or on Ebersol's future role at the network.
Although he was chairman of NBCUniversal Sports, Ebersol had influence throughout the NBC network. He joined NBC in the mid-1970s to develop late-night programming, including "Saturday Night Live." He also at one time oversaw the morning show "Today" and was in charge when popular anchor Jane Pauley was moved aside in favor of Deborah Norville.
More recently he was instrumental in the move to return Jay Leno to late night and harshly critical of Conan O'Brien, who later left for TBS.
In Lazarus, Comcast will have a much lower-profile invidividual in that role, although also one who has not had the same level of experience in producing major events such as the Olympics.
-- Joe Flint