Zucker's favorite things

NBC Universal's new CEO tells employees what he's watching -- and why Fox's American Idol is 'the most important show in the history of television.' Fortune's Patricia Sellers reports.

By Patricia Sellers, Fortune editor-at-large

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Amidst the maelstrom of must-dos hitting NBC Universal's new CEO - boot Don Imus, manage Alec Baldwin, turn around NBC, determine the company's digital future - Jeff Zucker has been trying to get to know his 16,000 employees. He's been holding monthly lunches and breakfasts with small groups.

Zucker let Fortune sit in on a recent breakfast at the Grill restaurant on the Universal Studios lot near Los Angeles. Dressed in a purple shirt, orange tie and beige linen suit - how Hollywood! - he introduced himself to about 100 employees of NBC Universal Television Studios, the company's in-house production arm known as NUTS.

After they introduced themselves one by one to him, Zucker fielded questions. Many employees wanted to know how he consumes media. Here's what he said:

What's your favorite movie? "Casablanca."

What's your all-time favorite TV show? The Honeymooners. It has the best line in TV: 'Address the ball. Hello, ball!'

What do you watch live? Keith Olbermann (on MSNBC). Also, Bill O'Reilly on Fox.

What do you record on your DVR? The Office. Heroes. Friday Night Lights - it may be the best show on television. 30 Rock, the funniest show on TV. I still love ER. I watch Grey's Anatomy (on ABC) with my wife, frankly.

Zucker talked about American Idol pulling viewers away from some of NBC's best shows. Later he tells me, "I believe it's the most important show in the history of television. Not only because of what it does for the Fox network, giving them a victory each year. Also because of what it does to the competition. It's the most offensive and defensive show of all time."

More on Zucker

Alec Baldwin and Jeff Zucker talk TV: Alec Baldwin riffs on other other networks, and interviews NBC (Charts, Fortune 500) Universal CEO Jeff Zucker in character. Fortune's Patricia Sellers reports.

Life imitates TV: A powerful conglomerate tightens the reins on its TV division. The company's biggest stars can't seem to stay out of trouble. The hypercompetitive boss must turn the place around. The mishaps and madcap adventures of NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker. Top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.