Have you seen this morning's Times piece yet on Conan O'Brien?

 You've got to check it out, but read my blog post first.

  The piece is by Bill Carter, who is the NYT TV beat writer, as well you know, and who is a terrifically knowledgeable reporter on the late night world, among many other matters relating to the tube. 

  For some reason, he got Dick Ebersol on the horn to talk about Conan, and Dick just slams the soon-to-be-gone late night guy.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

 Here's what he says: “What this is really all about is an astounding failure by Conan..."

He goes on to claim Conan's ratings were terrible, and that he refused to take Dick's advice before the show was launched to "broaden" its appeal to the mainstream.

 It's an amazing slam, and absolute evidence that NBC is finally taking the PR offensive, however spectacularly misguided this particular missile was.

 I - along with many other people - have great respect for Dick Ebersol; he's done a remarkable job with NBC Sports, had an early and important role at "Saturday Night Live," and is one of the legends of the business.

 But not included in the Times piece is this: Ebersol had the central role in the single biggest catastrophe in "Today Show" history. He was the man who forced out Jane Pauley for Deborah Norville - left Deborah twisting violently in the winds, as ratings crashed, Bryant fumed, and viewers stormed over to "Good Morning America."

 What happened with Deborah? In part, Dick's insistence that "Today" should be broadened - and that Deb would appeal to younger women, and that she would be a wonderful counterpart to cranky cool Bryant, and ...

 Here's how NBC treated Deb - she went on maternity leave, and never ever came back.

 It was as if she disappeared into the universe - lost forever.

 So, reader, when you hear from NBC executives how generous and wise they are, reach back to make sure your wallet is still there.

advertisement | advertise on newsday