Inside Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust 20-year long relationship as secret affair comes to light

CNN President Jeff Zucker stepped down on Wednesday after being outed for his years-long secret romance with colleague Allison Gollust, which was brought to light as part of the network’s investigation into former anchor Chris Cuomo.  

Jeff, 56, confirmed that he was resigning after he failed to disclose his relationship with Allison, who is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for CNN Worldwide. 

But how did Jeff and Allison’s romance blossom? As the secret affair comes to light, FEMAIL has uncovered intimate details on their 20-year long relationship.

From Jeff helping Allison, 49, land her current job at CNN to living in the same apartment building with their respective families, the two have, according to former colleague Katie Couric, been ‘joined at the hip’ for more than two decades.

Jeff and Allison's (pictured) romance only came to light during the investigation into Chris Cuomo

CNN President Jeff Zucker (left) stepped down on Wednesday after being outed for his years-long secret romance with colleague Allison Gollust (right)

Jeff resigned after it was revealed he failed to disclose his relationship with Allison, who is the executive vice president for CNN. They are pictured in 2016 with Tom Brokaw (center)

Jeff resigned after it was revealed he failed to disclose his relationship with Allison, who is the executive vice president for CNN. They are pictured in 2016 with Tom Brokaw (center)

Jeff split from his ex-wife (pictured in 2011) in 2018 after reportedly 'growing apart'

As for Allison, she was previously married to a man named Billy Hult (pictured in 2018)

Although Jeff and Allison both claim that their romance began during the pandemic, sources at CNN claim the relationship has been an ‘open secret’ for years – with some speculating that it led to the end of their respective marriages. Jeff divorced wife Caryn (left in 2011) in 2018, while Allison reportedly split from her husband Billy Hult (right in 2018) 12 months later

Jeff (pictured in 2019) and Allison first met when they both worked at NBC

Jeff and Allison (pictured in 2012) have now known each other for more than two decades

But how did Jeff and Allison’s romance blossom? As the secret affair comes to light, FEMAIL uncovered intimate details on their 20-year long relationship 

Where it all began, as colleagues at NBC

Harvard graduate Jeff and Allison – who began her career as a news anchor, reporter, and producer in Denver, Colorado – first met when they both worked at NBC.

According to her CNN profile, Allison started working for the company in 1996, six years after Jeff earned his first role within the network, and one year later, she was named as the senior publicist for the Today show. 

Allison then served as the executive vice president of corporate communications for NBC, where she oversaw all aspects of the company’s global communications efforts.

As for Jeff, who graduated from Harvard University in 1986, he started as a field producer for the Today show, where he rose through the ranks, eventually earning the job as executive producer on the show, before being named as the president of NBC Entertainment in 2000.  

In her book, Going There, former NBC host Couric recalled her first encounter with Jeff, who was at the time a budding writer-producer, in 1990, describing him as being a ‘nerd’ who was ‘seemed a little cocky, especially for someone so young’. 

Then, on February 6, 2007, Jeff became president and CEO of NBC Universal. 

Despite gaining a lot of power at NBC, Jeff was shoved out of the company in 2010, after its merger with Comcast Corporation. 

The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke ‘told Jeff that he wanted him to “move on” as soon as Comcast took control of the media conglomerate.’

During his time at NBC, Jeff had several misfires – most notably, when he brought in independent producer Ben Silverman, which ultimately caused NBC’s ratings to plummet. 

He was also slammed for moving Jay Leno’s show to prime time, which negatively impacted the number of viewers.

According to Allison (pictured in 2013), it wasn't until the pandemic hit that things turned romantic - however, sources said their relationship has been an 'open secret' for years at CNN

According to Allison (pictured in 2013), it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that things turned romantic – however, sources said their relationship has been an ‘open secret’ for years at CNN

Allison (pictured in 2018) began her career as a news anchor in Denver. She started working for NBC in 1996 - where she met Jeff, who eventually became president and CEO of NBC Universal

Allison (pictured in 2018) began her career as a news anchor in Denver. She started working for NBC in 1996 – where she met Jeff, who eventually became president and CEO of NBC Universal

After leaving NBC, Allison worked as Andrew Cuomo's communications director, but left after four months to join Jeff at CNN. She is pictured in 2011, before she joined Cuomo's team

After leaving NBC, Allison worked as Andrew Cuomo’s communications director, but left after four months to join Jeff at CNN. She is pictured in 2011, before she joined Cuomo’s team

Looking out for one another: How Jeff tried to snag Allison a job alongside him on Katie Couric’s show

Both of them left NBC within months of one another in 2010, and Jeff spent several months without a job, before reuniting with former colleague Couric in 2011 in order to produce her self-titled daytime talkshow.    

However, even after they both departed NBC, Jeff and Allison remained incredibly close. So close, in fact, that Jeff fought hard to get Allison a job on Katie’s show while he was there.

The talk show host claimed in her 2021 memoir, Going There, that Jeff made a ‘huge push’ to bring Allison onto their staff, but they unfortunately didn’t have a role for her.

‘They were joined at the hip. The problem was, we’d already hired a PR person for the show. There really wasn’t a role for Allison,’ she wrote. ‘I had to wonder why Jeff was angling so hard to bring Allison on board.’

In late 2012, rumors started to circulate that Jeff was planning to leave Katie’s show to join CNN, and Katie later claimed that he and Allison had teamed up to plant those stories – writing that ‘everyone knew he and Allison had Page Six on speed dial.’

Jeff then became the president of CNN on January 1, 2013. 

The pair became 'adjoined at the hip,' and after Jeff left NBC to work on Katie Couric's talk show, she said he 'pushed hard' to get Allison a job there, Jeff and Katie are pictured in 2004

The pair became ‘adjoined at the hip,’ and after Jeff left NBC to work on Katie Couric’s talk show, she said he ‘pushed hard’ to get Allison a job there, Jeff and Katie are pictured in 2004

Reuniting at CNN: How Jeff brought Allison on-board as his first hire  

After leaving NBC, Allison took a job as then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s communications director at the end of 2012. However, just four months later, it was revealed that she had quit the role and was moving to CNN.     

‘[Jeff’s] first hire?’ Katie wrote in her book. ‘Allison Gollust.’ 

She was hired at the company as senior vice president of communications. 

‘Allison is among the most experienced and respected communications executives in the media industry, and her close working relationship with Jeff Zucker is one of its most successful professional partnerships,’ Jeff Matteson, senior vice president of communications for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., said at the time. 

Jeff added in a statement: ‘In the 15 years that Allison and I have worked together, I’ve depended on her judgment, counsel and relationships.

‘Allison is joining CNN at an exciting time, and she and the strong communications team she’s inheriting will play a critical role in shaping the organization and its story going forward. It’s great to have her at CNN.’

The pair lived in the same apartment building on the Upper East Side (pictured) with their respective families until Jeff sold his in 2020, after he and ex-wife Caryn Nathanson split

The pair lived in the same apartment building on the Upper East Side (pictured) with their respective families until Jeff sold his in 2020, after he and ex-wife Caryn Nathanson split

He resided in apartment 3W, which he sold in 2020 after his divorce, while Allison lived in the unit right above him - 4W - which she still owns

He resided in apartment 3W, which he sold in 2020 after his divorce, while Allison lived in the unit right above him – 4W – which she still owns

Katie (pictured with Jeff and his wife in 2005) later claimed that their 'cozy arrangement' was 'super strange' and made her 'really uncomfortable'

Katie (pictured with Jeff and his wife in 2005) later claimed that their ‘cozy arrangement’ was ‘super strange’ and made her ‘really uncomfortable’

Both of them also own Hampton houses within 20 minutes from one another

Both of them also own Hampton houses within 20 minutes from one another

Living in close quarters: Pair spark speculation after moving into the same apartment building just one floor apart

Jeff and Allison lived in the same apartment building on the Upper East Side with their respective families until Jeff sold his in 2020, after he and his ex-wife – supervisor of Saturday Night Life Caryn Stephanie Nathanson – split.

The building is located at on the corner of Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York. He resided in apartment 3W, while Allison lived in the unit right above him – number 4W – which she still owns. 

Katie later claimed that their ‘cozy arrangement’ was ‘super strange’ and made her ‘really uncomfortable.’

She said in her book: ‘[Allison] and her husband and kids had moved into the apartment right above Jeff and [his wife] Caryn’s – everyone who heard about their cozy arrangement thought it was super strange.

‘By that point, Caryn had become a close friend and it made me really uncomfortable.’

Allison’s apartment has two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, while Jeff’s contained five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. He sold it for $15.4 million. 

Both of them also own Hampton houses within 20 minutes from one another.

According to public sales records, Jeff’s home hasn’t been put up for sale since he purchased it in 1999 – however it’s not known whether he or his wife took ownership of it in the divorce. Records also show that Allison still owners her Hampton home. 

Jeff and his ex-wife Caryn (pictured in 2012) share three daughters and a son

Jeff and his ex-wife Caryn (pictured in 2012) share three daughters and a son

Leaving their respective partners: Lengthy marriages both end in divorce

Jeff and his ex-wife split in 2018 after 21 years of marriage, due to reportedly ‘growing apart.’

A source told Page Six at the time: ‘It can’t be easy being married to Jeff – he is a workaholic, and is obsessed with news, and obsessed with being the best.

‘Caryn is much more laid back and social, spends a lot of time with their kids and enjoys being part of the Upper East Side social circuit. 

‘They’ve had their problems over the years. Things have been bad for 10 years, but they have now accepted their marriage is over, and he has moved out of their apartment.’ 

The former couple share four kids together – three daughters and a son. 

As for Allison, she was previously married to Billy Hult, the president of online marketplace platform Tradeweb.

According to RadarOnline, they broke up 12 months after Jeff and Caryn finalized their divorced. Before they split, they welcomed two daughters together named Olivia and Ava.

Now, sources have claimed that both of their marriages ended because of their budding romance. 

An insider told DailyMail.com on Wednesday: ‘It was part of the reason for his divorce, but not the only reason. It was inevitable that it would come out – he should have been up front sooner.’

In a memo to CNN staff on Wednesday, Jeff confirmed the relationship and announced that he was stepping down from the company

In a memo to CNN staff on Wednesday, Jeff confirmed the relationship and announced that he was stepping down from the company

Going public with their romance: Couple claim their ‘relationship changed during COVID’ 

According to Allison, who said she will remain at the network, however, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit that things turned romantic between them. 

‘Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,’ she wrote. ‘Recently, our relationship changed during COVID,’ she said in a statement released to the New York Times.

‘I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time. I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do everyday.’ 

In a memo to CNN staff on Wednesday, Jeff spoke out about it too.

He said: ‘As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years. 

‘I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.’ 

Insiders claim couple had ‘open-secret affair for years’ 

According to a CNN source, their romance was no secret to those who worked with them, and the insider insisted that it started years before the pandemic – despite Allison claiming that it didn’t blossom until later.  

‘Jeff’s affair with Allison has been going on forever – not since COVID! Everyone has known it but he still denied it,’ they said.

Another insider told DailyMail.com: ‘It was the worst kept secret inside the building.’ 

‘Jeff’s office was right next to Allison’s office at Hudson Yards and before that at the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle.

‘The joke was they weren’t only sharing a wall. No one believes that this only happened over pandemic. They have been close for years.

‘The closest it ever came to being outed was when Page Six reported on their “heavy exchange” at the Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Most Powerful People in NY Media party.

‘They had a very public fight at the party that didn’t seem to have anything to do with work.’ 

The fight they’re referring to took place in 2017. An onlooker revealed to the outlet at the time that while the party was taking place, Jeff and Allison suddenly started intensely speaking and making anguished hand gestures before she stormed away into the crowd.

‘It looked like she was reprimanding her husband or something,’ said an unnamed rival news executive, who witnessed the argument. 

The couple was also spotted together at a Billy Joel concert last November, where they were called out by a fan for defying mask regulations at the event. 

Timeline of Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust’s secret romance 

1986: Jeff hired as an Olympic researcher for NBC 

1989: Jeff starts working as producer on Today 

1996: Jeff marries his NBC colleague Caryn Nathanson

2000:  Jeff promoted to president of entertainment at NBC after boosting ratings on Today 

He meets Allison at NBC.  

2003: Jeff promoted to head of news, cable and entertainment at NBC

2005: Jeff becomes head of NBC Universal, new umbrella brand

2007: Jeff becomes President and CEO of NBC Universal 

2010: Jeff leaves NBC, taking a package of between $30m – $40m dollars

2011: Jeff joins Katie Couric as producer on her ABC show 

2012: Jeff joins CNN 

2018: Jeff and his wife Caryn split 

2021: Jeff announces plans to leave the company at the end of the year. He then said he would stay on until TimeWarner’s deal with Discovery was complete 

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