Friday, May 29, 2009

Jay Leno: More "Tonight Show" Spoilers

CNN has more "Tonight Show" spoilers, including the fact that the show ended with Leno welcoming onstage "the children of people who met and started families while working at the long-running late-night show during his tenure."

"Jay said that's what he wanted his legacy to be," said Kevin Anthony of Miami, Florida. "His staff members, from stage managers to runners, who met, got married and had kids joined Jay on the stage and he took a picture with the 70 kids of those parents."

"Jay also thanked his wife," said Kathy Young of Los Angeles, "Jay said, when these kids are asked what was the 'Tonight Show' about, I want them to say, my parents met while working on the show and they had me. And that's what the 'Tonight Show' was all about."
The article also states that final guest James Taylor sang "Sweet Baby James." Here is our initial spoiler post, with monologue spoilers, and here is a transcript of Jay's interview with Conan.

Jay Leno: Final "Tonight Show" Spoilers

It's 6 PM Pacific time and Jay Leno has finished taping the final "Tonight Show." Talk Show News has been on the hunt for spoilers.

This AP report says that the show begins with a standing ovation for Leno (no surprise there). In his final "Tonight" monologue, Leno "thanked all the people who made the last 17 years possible—Michael Jackson, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton." Interestingly, there was no mention of George Bush; a Center for Media and Public Affairs study released yesterday and quoted in the Financial Times showed that Leno "had told 33,331 jokes since taking over the show, of which 4,468 were about Mr Clinton, compared with just 2,999 jokes about George W. Bush."

Twitterer elaineewing repeats this joke: "When I started this show, my hair was black and the president was white."

Variety has more monologue spoilers, including this gag about another favorite Leno target over the years, O.J. Simpson:
"I was cleaning my room today and I found O.J.'s knife," he said. "I had it the whole time!"

There was a rumor (wishful thinking?) making the rounds that David Letterman might make a surprise appearance -- looking at our web stats for the last couple days, a lot of people were Googling to find out if it was true -- but if that had actually happened, we imagine we would have heard about it by now.

As of this writing, we haven't been able to dig up any spoilers regarding Conan O'Brien's guest spot, but we'll keep an eye out.

Jay Leno: the Volkswagen to CSI's Cadillac

Noted car buff Jay Leno compared himself to a Volkswagen in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. Neil Strauss interviewed the departing "Tonight Show" host for the magazine's "Hot List" issue, which features a nude Lady Gaga on the cover -- despite that eye-catching image, of course Talk Show News noticed the headline "Jay Leno: The RS Interview" down by Gaga's left wrist. We haven't read the whole piece yet, but the magazine's blog features a few excerpts:

Leno is cautiously optimistic about his prime-time chances. Other observers are less generous — Sumner Redstone, whose Viacom owns CSI home CBS, went as far as to say that the crime drama would “beat the hell” out of Leno.

“Oh, that’s fine. I’m going to go with that one,” Leno says. “They will win. Hopefully we’ll catch them on the reruns. It’s like a Cadillac costs more than a Volkswagen, but if you sell enough Volkswagens, you succeed because of volume.”
Leno also states that he isn't going to give Conan O'Brien any advice. "His show has been number one [in its time slot] for the past 15 years. So I’m sure he’ll make that transition [to 11:35] fine."

Late Night Ratings: Gains for Craig, decisive victory for Jay

It's time once again to dive into the late night TV ratings race, with numbers courtesy of CBS and NBC (who, needless to say, each put their own rose-colored spin on things).

CBS is crowing about Craig Ferguson's gains in this year's May sweeps compared to 2008, when, of course, he was competing against Conan O'Brien instead of Jimmy Fallon: "In the May 2009 sweep, LATE LATE SHOW was up +8% in both households (1.4/05 compared to 1.3/05) and viewers (1.84m from 1.71m), +25% in adults 18-34 (0.5/03 from 0.4/02) and even in both adults 25-54 (0.7/04) and adults 18-49 (0.6/04) compared to last May." What that means in a direct comparison: during the just-ended sweeps period, Fallon was watched by 60,000 more viewers than Ferguson, while in May 2008, O'Brien had 260,000 more viewers than everyone's favorite Scot.

Let's turn now to the week of May 18-22, a period in which, let's admit, the Leno/O'Brien transition was getting approximately as much publicity as the last time a new Pope was elected: "For the week of May 18-22, Jay's average 1.860 million adults 18-49 topped the 1.151 million of Letterman; in total viewers, Jay's audience of 5.122 million persons beat Letterman's 3.241 million; and in adults 18-34, Jay's 735,000 out-scored Letterman's 419,000." (See our last ratings post if you want to compare those numbers to the week of May 11-15.)

At 12:35 AM, "Jimmy Fallon's 1.032 million adults 18-49 for the week out-delivered Ferguson's 680,000; in total viewers, Jimmy's 2.034 million beat Ferguson's 1.716 million; and in adults 18-34, Jimmy's 460,000 topped Ferguson's 277,000." That's an increase from last week, but not terribly surprising considering the strong lead-in from Leno's last late-night hurrah.

Here are the May 2009 sweep averages, again courtesy of NBC:

11:35 p.m. ET
NBC "Tonight," 5.0 million viewers
CBS "Late Show," 3.6 million viewers
ABC "Nightline," 3.8 million viewers

12:05 a.m. ET
ABC "Kimmel," 1.7 million viewers

12:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," 1.9 million viewers
CBS "Late Late Show," 1.9 million viewers

1:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Last Call," 1.1 million viewers

And a few cable numbers from the week of May 18-22:

Comedy Central, 11 p.m. ET, "The Daily Show," 1.5 million
Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. ET, "The Colbert Report," 1.0 million

Adult Swim, 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET, 1.7 million
Adult Swim, 12:30-1:30 a.m. ET, 1.0 million

With the Comedy Central bloc, we always feel compelled to throw in the caveat that each of those shows are repeated numerous times outside of their 11-midnight time period; Talk Show News knows plenty of people tune in for the morning or evening reruns, so total viewership of each episode is higher than the numbers above imply.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel: Game Night specials to feature Eminem, Jack Black, more

Jimmy Kimmel will be taking his show into prime time during the basketball finals with his series of "Game Night" specials. The 30-minute broadcasts will feature celebrity guests Denzel Washington, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Michael Cera and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, and a special comedy segment "featuring Jimmy Kimmel as Eminem's next prodigy."

Since Kimmel and his crew will be focusing on the prime time shows, he will be airing several repeats in the 12:05 AM time slot (you can check out the full schedule here). Three new shows will air during the week of June 1 instead of the usual four, and during the week of June 8, there will only be two new 12:05 shows and three reruns.

The "Game Night" specials will air on the following dates/times (those of us on the West Coast will see Jimmy after the games):
Thursday, June 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET/CT
Sunday, June 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET/CT
Tuesday, June 9 at 8:00 p.m. ET/CT
Thursday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET/CT
Sunday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. ET/CT (if necessary)
Tuesday, June 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET/CT (if necessary)
Tuesday, June 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET/CT (if necessary)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Conan O'Brien: The Masturbating Bear lives!

One of the recurring "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" bits that most observers confidently suggested would not make the transition to 11:30 was the Masturbating Bear, but it looks like the Bear will indeed be doing his thing on "The Tonight Show," according to this New York Daily News report -- along with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and In the Year 2000.

"I think sometimes, especially in 2009, people can overstate the idea that there's a comedy barrier that separates 11:30 and 12:30 and that you'll ignite antimatter if you bring 12:30 comedy into the 11:30 hour," O'Brien said. "But DVRs have changed everything. The Internet has changed everything."

On his first week on the air: "It should be a fun week, but I have a rule which is, don't overthink this. My most important job is to think of funny things to do with my writers and enjoy this. What I've noticed is that when I'm really enjoying myself, it seems to be good television."

Meanwhile, Ain't It Cool News has published a fan's report of a test show, and reveals that Andy Richter will do his announcing duties while standing behind a podium -- no more sitting on the couch, as he did in his sidekick days. The fan was delighted with the new show: "Like many Conan fans, I was concerned the shift to 11:30 might soften the tone of the show. I'm happy to report, it's the same show you know and love."

Conan O'Brien: New show will be like a "high-end steak restaurant"

In an interview with TV Week, Conan O'Brien's exec producer Jeff Ross said the new "Tonight Show" will begin with a familiar theme: a reworked version of the "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" music. Writer Josef Adalian describes the song as "less manic" than the original rendition.

Ross also revealed that "James Wormworth, a frequent substitute performer in the old Max Weinberg 7, is joining the late-night show as a permanent member of the house band. The new group will be known as Max Weinberg and the Tonight Show Band."

The new "Tonight" opening will not feature animation, as the "Late Show" opener did. The goal of the new theme and titles are designed to give the new "Tonight Show" a "elegant feel," according to O'Brien: "I wanted it to look like a really high-end steak restaurant," he said. "I want people salivating when I'm in the monologue."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jimmy Fallon: "Charming," but still searching for a voice

The New York Times reports on the first three months of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," quoting pros and media buyers who sing the praises of the host's likability.

“When 75 percent of the audience likes the person, you’re 75 percent of the way there,” said Lorne Michaels, who selected Fallon to take over the 12:35 time slot from Conan O'Brien. “He’s a good performer and impressionist. The rare thing is he’s charming.”

Producer Robert "Morty" Morton, who spent years working with David Letterman, says that the new kid on the late night block still needs to find his voice. “Comics spend years finding a point of view and voice. Then it becomes easy to write for a Johnny Carson or Jay Leno or David Letterman. Jimmy needs to establish some pieces that are his, the way you know a David Letterman piece is his when you see it.”

Despite his work on "Saturday Night Live," Michaels has attended every single "Late Night" taping. “I was also there at Conan the first few months. When you have a kid, you have to be there at drop-off every day. And then when they get older, at some point you quietly tip-toe out of sight.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 25-29: Your guide to avoiding holiday week reruns

Looking for fresh late night shows next week? Here's where to find 'em:

"Late Show with David Letterman" will be airing five repeats, but oddly enough, "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" will feature fresh shows on Monday and Tuesday with reruns the rest of the week. Bob Saget and P.W. Singer (author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century) will sit down with Craig on Monday, while Chris Isaak and "Terminator" actress Moon Bloodgood are scheduled to appear Tuesday.

Of course, most late night viewers will be tuned to "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" during its final week, and Jay has corraled a lot of big-name guests, including Mel Gibson and Lyle Lovett on Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (maybe he'll tell Jay what he intends to do about California's budget crisis!) and Dwight Yoakam on Tuesday, Wanda Sykes and Sarah McLachlan on Wednesday, Billy Crystal and Prince on Thursday, and finally, Conan O'Brien and James Taylor on Friday. If you leave the TV on after Leno, you'll find all-new shows on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and, Tuesday-Friday, "Last Call with Carson Daly," too.

Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart will both be taking the week off, but "Chelsea Lately" will air new shows Monday-Thursday, beginning with a visit from VH1 "stars" Real and Chance on Monday. It's also a vacation week for Jimmy Kimmel, but if you're a Kimmel fan, be sure to tune into "Live with Regis and Kelly" on Monday, as Jimmy will be the guest co-host. He and Kelly will be forced to make conversation with ubiquitous reality stars Heidi and Spencer Pratt.

Conan O'Brien: First week of guests revealed

We already knew Will Ferrell and Pearl Jam would be the kick-off guests for "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," but here is the list of who else is on tap for the show's premiere week:

Tu 6/2: Tom Hanks, Green Day
We 6/3: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bradley Cooper, Sheryl Crow
Th 6/4: Gwyneth Paltrow, John Mayer Trio
Fr 6/5: Ryan Seacrest, Chickenfoot

Chickenfoot is the new rock supergroup featuring Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (Van Halen), the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith, and axeman Joe Satriani.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Late night ratings: Five million Jay Leno fans can't be wrong

For those late night watchers who are interested in the ratings race and how it will be affected by Conan's arrival on the scene, here are a few numbers for you, courtesy of NBC. These are the ratings for the week of May 11, presumably a fairly average week for Leno, since his victory lap should score higher numbers than usual.

Jay's five new shows that week were watched by an average of 5.006 million people (Letterman averaged 3.729 million total). The breakdown among adults 18-49 was 1.845 million for Jay vs. 1.334 million for Dave. In adults 18-34 (generally described by networks as "the coveted 18-34 demographic"), there were 697,000 "Tonight Show" viewers, while 545,000 young folks tuned into "Late Show."

Now, Conan's first 2-3 weeks of "The Tonight Show" will no doubt score huge numbers as people tune in out of curiosity, but in a few months, we can use these numbers as a point of reference to see how he's doing compared to his predecessor.

Meanwhile, at 12:35, it's a closer race, especially in total viewers. Reports NBC: "Jimmy Fallon's 1.041 million adults 18-49 for the week out-delivered Craig Ferguson's 778,000; in total viewers, Jimmy's 1.991 million beat Ferguson's 1.925 million; and in adults 18-34, Jimmy's 435,000 topped Ferguson's 352,000." To be honest, we're not surprised that over a million Ferguson viewers are over 49 (we're guessing there aren't too many under-18s tuning in), since in our experience, Craig seems to be particularly beloved by older women. It would be interesting to see a gender breakdown.

Conan O'Brien: After N.Y., L.A. feels like a "lunar landscape"

This Sunday's New York Times Magazine will feature a long article by Lynn Hirschberg about Conan O'Brien's takeover of "The Tonight Show" and Jay Leno's move to 10 PM. If you, like Talk Show News, have already read what feels like 800 articles about the changing of the guard at 11:30, especially Leno's remarkably thorough GQ interview, you won't find much new stuff in the piece, though it's worth reading just to learn that in the early days of "Late Night," a network exec once referred to now-beloved sidekick Andy Richter as "a big fat dildo." There is also a hint of what viewers of "Tonight" might see in the first couple weeks of the show:

Ideas were starting to take shape, too, many of them inspired by the [Universal Studios] back lot itself. [While Jay Leno's "Tonight" was taped in Burbank, Conan's new studio is in Universal City.] “Jaws” was a huge hit for Universal, and one writer suggested that Bruce, the mechanical shark, could occasionally drop by the show. “In our mind, he sounds like Paul Lynde,” O’Brien explained. “He dishes dirt about his co-stars.” The show had an exact replica of O’Brien’s desk built onto the front of a golf cart and, later that day, O’Brien was scheduled to take a short road trip through the studio. “We’re going to drive up to the ‘Psycho’ house and try and interview Norman Bates at the desk,” O’Brien said. “And maybe we’ll take a break during 1869 in Western Town. And then we’ll swing by the ‘Desperate Housewives’ set and try to see Eva Longoria in her trailer for an interview."
(Watch it, Conan, Eva might be holding out for George Lopez.)

“The hardest thing in L.A. is a destination,” said Conan about his new home. “I’m spoiled. I’ve had the destination in New York: Rockefeller Center. It’s the high temple of American TV, and we were smack-dab in the middle of it. L.A. is different. Everything can feel like the lunar landscape out here.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

George Lopez: Just what the world needs, another talk show

Pardon Talk Show News for sighing deeply when we heard that George Lopez will be headlining a new late night talk show this fall, for TBS. We spend enough time updating the lineups page as it is.

Presenting at the upfronts, Lopez showed a comic video featuring President Barack Obama. Reports the New York Times: "You need to change late night," Mr. Obama tells Mr. Lopez. "That's a change I can believe in." (The bit was recorded last year, during the campaign. Presumably the prez has weightier issues to deal with right now.)

According to the Times, "Mr. Lopez offered clips of a prospective program, with guests like Eva Longoria Parker." Since Parker has already appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," "Late Show with David Letterman," "Tavis Smiley," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The View," we're not sure how many potential viewers might be clamoring to hear more from the Desperate Housewife.

At least Lopez isn't just another white male talk show host; right now, Kimmel's sidekick Guillermo is the most visible Latino in late night talk, with Chelsea Handler's Chuy Bravo a close second. Says the Times: "[Lopez] pledged to create and produce a late-night talk show that would be 'so good, Latinos will actually want to pay for cable.'"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel: Leno's "early bird special"

In case anyone was wondering why tonight's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is a rare Tuesday rerun (Friday's show with Eminem and Mike Tyson) -- well, Kimmel was in New York for ABC's upfront presentation to advertisers and affiliates. According to this New York Times report, his monologue was so scathing that the reporter speculated he must have "great blackmail photos of the network executives."

Here are his quips about Jay Leno's upcoming 10 PM show:

Mr. Kimmel then took a verbal swing at his own network, reminding the audience that ABC had attempted to hire away Mr. Leno when his tenure ended at NBC's "Tonight Show." But, according Mr. Kimmel, NBC said it would not give up Mr. Leno, "even if we have to destroy our own network to keep him."

By devoting its entire 10 p.m. lineup, Monday through Friday, to Mr. Leno, Mr. Kimmel said NBC is "giving Jay's viewers exactly what they want. An early-bird special."
The report also states that "after rattling off a few statistics about the affluence of his viewers, he then admitted that he'd made all the numbers up. (He said so in a more obscene way.)" According to the Live Feed blog, his words were, "Everything you've heard today, everything you're going to hear this week, is bullshit."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wanda Sykes: Her new late night show begins Nov. 7

Wanda Sykes' new talk show will debut on Nov. 7, according to this New York Times report from the FOX upfronts. Sykes, who has been much in the news lately thanks to her White House Correspondents' Dinner speech, will be on the air every Saturday from 11 PM to midnight.

Fox says the "high-energy one-hour show will feature biting commentary on topical issues and heated panel discussions with recurring personalities."

Sykes is the new mom of twins, which should give her some additional comedy fodder. Congrats to Wanda and Alex!

Conan O'Brien: My first guests

As you can imagine, Talk Show News has been on tenterhooks waiting for Conan O'Brien to announce his first guests for "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien." Well, thanks to the Associated Press, we finally have the answer: Will Ferrell and Pearl Jam. Ferrell will be plugging his new movie "Land of the Lost," while Pearl Jam will release its ninth studio album later this year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jay Leno: Will advertisers respond to NBC's gamble?

The New York Times reports that the Discovery package of networks (Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Travel Channel) is selling advertisers "what could be called a 'Leno replacement package'" -- in other words, commercial time on all four channels that would grab a larger total number of viewers than Jay Leno will be able to get for NBC when his 10 PM show debuts this fall:

"A further loss of audience is expected when Jay Leno moves to the 10 p.m. time slot this fall," said Joe Abruzzese, the president of ad sales for Discovery.
With lucrative automotive and retail advertising diminishing due to the recession, this week's upfronts -- when the networks promote their fall schedules to advertisers -- are being closely watched, and NBC's decision to give the 10 PM time slot to Leno is dominating NBC's presentation. This article in Monday's Times called Leno's move to prime time "the biggest gamble of this -- or any recent -- upfront market," but at least one ad agency executive quoted in the piece was bullish on Jay:
Steven J. Farella, president and chief executive at [media strategies firm] TargetCast TCM, said the prospect of Mr. Leno at 10 p.m. was welcome.

"Think about the alternative: another crime drama, another hospital drama," Mr. Farella said. "We like things that are different, so we can sit in front of clients and say, 'Let me tell you what I'm doing differently this year than last year.'"

Mr. Farella said he also liked NBC's promise that Mr. Leno's show would be "advertiser-friendly," offering sponsors opportunities like commercials delivered by Mr. Leno and the inclusion of brands in skits.

NBC president of research Alan Wurtzel pointed out that no conventional series introduced at 10 PM since the 2003-4 season has approached true hit status in the ratings. However, CBS is considering moving 9 PM hits like "The Mentalist" to 10 in order to compete with Jay.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Carson Daly gets a ninth season

Fans of "Last Call with Carson Daly" -- we know there must be some of you out there! -- rejoice: Broadcasting & Cable is reporting that Daly's 1:35 AM show has been renewed for the 2009-10 season.

Says Carson Daly:

"I really feel grateful. Being able to continue my show with NBC for its 9th season is just incredible. I'm also excited to showcase our unique format. With the new late night lineup coming to NBC, we're a great fit, but also very distinct -- and I hope refreshing -- to viewers up that late."

About 1.2 million viewers watch the show, according to TV By the Numbers. Tonight's episode is scheduled to feature No Doubt, Adam Carolla, and Friendly Fires.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jay Leno: My last guest will be...

Conan O'Brien. I guess we should have seen this one coming.

Edited to add: Here's a nice big report from the L.A. Times about Leno's news conference held earlier today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bonnie Hunt gets new exec producer

Bonnie Hunt's talk show is coming back for a second season, and will have a new executive producer: Daniel Kellison, who held the same job on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and also served as producer, writer and co-creator of Comedy Central's "The Man Show" and of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." (Tip courtesy of Aaron Barnhart, source: The Hollywood Reporter.)

Despite some early doomsaying about Bonnie's ratings, the show's viewership has increased by 25% since its September 2008 premiere. Of course, her numbers pale in comparison to the titans of daytime talk, Oprah and Dr. Phil, so presumably Kellison will try to juice 'em a bit.

Talk Show News is a big fan of Kellison, who is also partner in Jackhole Productions with Kimmel and Adam Carolla. He is a nice guy. Four years ago, he e-mailed us to ask us to add Carolla's short-lived Comedy Central show, "Too Late with Adam Carolla," to our lineups page. (Hey, we watched every single episode. But it was eventually replaced by a show that proved to be just a tad bit more successful: "The Colbert Report.") He sent us a "Man Show" T-shirt and autographed Carolla photo, thereby ensuring our continued loyalty. Best of luck and long may "Bonnie" run!

P.S. Check out Adam Carolla's podcast!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Aisha Tyler, talk show host

Comedian Aisha Tyler may be hosting her own talk show next season, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show "will incorporate aspects of a traditional talk show with comedic political commentary, produced comedy segments and other elements usually associated with late-night shows," even though it's being targeted at a daytime slot.

Like Jimmy Fallon, Aisha will be deeply involved in social networking -- the Reporter says the show "is being developed as a fully 'wired' concept, with fans being able to communicate with Tyler via Facebook, Twitter and other platforms." The 38-year-old Tyler is best known for her stint hosting "Talk Soup" and her guest spots on TV shows such as "Friends," "24" and "Ghost Whisperer."

And, because we suppose it's mandatory for female talk show hosts at this point, Aisha has posed nude for Allure magazine.

Craig Ferguson: "I broke the camera!" has a preview of tonight's "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," in which Craig playfully slaps the TV camera... and a piece of glass falls off and shatters! Watch it all the way to the end to see the instant replay shot from a different angle.

Jimmy Kimmel: an Eminem exclusive

David Letterman had U2; Jay Leno had Prince. And now Jimmy Kimmel will be presenting an exclusive, multi-night stand by Eminem, who has been out of the public eye for a while but is coming back with a new CD, Relapse, due out May 19.

According to an ABC press release, on Friday, May 15, Kimmel will feature Eminem as his only guest; the rapper will be interviewed by Jimmy and perform. On Tuesday, May 19, the Friday show will be rerun -- but with a new musical performance, live from Detroit. On Friday the 22nd, there will be yet another new song by Eminem, also from Detroit, along with guests Hank Azaria and Anton Yelchin.

Longtime "Jimmy Kimmel Live" fans may remember Jimmy's one-on-one basketball game with the performer, a comedy segment from the show's Super Bowl week in Detroit.

Jay Leno: His last guests

The New York Times reports that Jay Leno has announced the guest lineup for his final week of shows (May 25-29) before Conan O'Brien takes over "The Tonight Show."

Mo 5/25: Mel Gibson, Lyle Lovett
Tu 5/26: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dwight Yoakam
We 5/27: Wanda Sykes, Sarah McLachlan
Th 5/28: Billy Crystal, Prince

Crystal is a sentimental choice -- he was the first guest when Leno took over "Tonight" in 1992.

The guests for the very last show on the 29th will be announced at a press conference on Thursday, May 14.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No more "Talk Show with Spike Ferensten"

The New York Times reports that FOX has canceled "Talk Show with Spike Ferensten," which has aired at midnight on Saturday for the past four years. Our lineups page never listed Ferensten since the show is only on once a week, but the Times article states that the network saw the former writer for "Late Show with David Letterman" as a possible competitor for his old boss:

Fox gave Mr. Feresten a six-week trial run in the Saturday at 11 p.m. time period in the hope that he might emerge as a potential host of a Monday-through-Friday late-night show. That experiment did not generate big ratings, and he returned to the half-hour format at midnight on Saturdays. Mr. Feresten’s last show, which has already been taped, will be broadcast May 16.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jay Leno: He's "advertiser friendly"

If you're a regular viewer of "Jimmy Kimmel Live," you've no doubt seen the live commercials that usually kick off the show. For the past year, Jimmy and his cohorts Uncle Frank and Guillermo have been shilling for Subway, Chili's, Arby's, cell phones, cameras, and various movies and video games. Most of the ads aren't particularly entertaining, and we usually hit the fast-forward button, but there were a couple spots that not only had us paying attention, but laughing. Those were the commercials for K-Y's new "Yours+Mine personal lubricant for couples" featuring Uncle Frank and his long-suffering ex-wife, Aunt Chippy, in bed. They should all be that good.

Kimmel seems to have taken enthusiastically to the live commercials, which were an established part of the TV landscape in the early days of the medium. Johnny Carson did them early on but apparently disdained them, and David Letterman hated them -- we have a vague memory of Dave, way back in the "Late Night" days, battling with NBC over doing live ads; once he put up a cardboard cut-out of himself and had a voice-over read the pitch. After that, they never seemed to be an issue again. Anyone else remember that? "The Larry Sanders Show" spoofed hosts' reluctance to pitch products in its debut episode, which involved Larry and sidekick Hank Kingsley doing a spot for the Garden Weasel.

The always eager-to-please Jay Leno will apparently be doing live ads on his new 10 PM show, according to Ad Age. "While buyers don't expect the program to garner the same ratings a scripted drama would, NBC is countering by making Mr. Leno more available for specialized marketing programs. Mr. Leno is 'advertiser friendly,' said [Mike] Pilot," president of sales and marketing for NBC Universal. "'He's not afraid to experiment with live commercials and with sponsorships.'"

Kimmel's young demographic of viewers means the show gets a steady stream of fast food and action movie promos, but Leno is expected to attract an older audience, so he'll probably be shilling for more boomer-friendly products.

Monday, May 4, 2009

27 days, 14 hours, 39 minutes, 33 seconds

That's how long we have to wait 'til the debut of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," as of this writing, according to the widget on the new "Tonight Show" web site. Check out the show's new logo, watch a special video message from Conan, check out photos, and subscribe to the blog and Twitter feed. There's also a page where you can request tickets for "Tonight Show" tapings.

Jay Leno: he'll go "off the couch" with guests

NBC is promo'ing Jay Leno's upcoming 10 PM show with some tongue-in-cheek statistics: it'll have "100% more comedy and 98% fewer murders" than other programs in its time slot. A brief featurette shows a cavalcade of TV violence, presumably from soon-to-be-competitors like the "CSI"s. What can we expect from Jay? Lots more Jaywalking and Headlines -- lots more -- and a "new comedy segment at the end of the show." (In other words, a way to entice you to stay tuned if you don't like the guest.) "And get this -- Jay will be getting his guests off the couch!" Onto "a huge new stage -- specially designed for comedy!"

To be honest, Talk Show News TiVos Leno at least once or twice a week, so it's not like we're anti-Jay, but this promo just seems like it's trying way too hard. An endorsement from Dr. Phil and Octomom gags won't make us count the days 'til the show debuts. Frankly, we're waiting for The Onion's The Hater to take potshots at the video, or at least come up with her own "off the couch" scenarios. How about, "Six words: Jay Leno. Betty White. Mud wrestling!!!"

John Oliver: the next "Daily Show" star to move on?

Rob Corddry, Steve Carell and Ed Helms all left "The Daily Show" when they scored sitcom or movie deals. Jason Jones and Samantha Bee and Rob Riggle also have network projects brewing.

And now, it might be John Oliver's turn. The British comic, who has become one of "Daily"'s most popular correspondents since joining the show's cast of correspondents in 2006, will reportedly costar with "Soup" host Joel McHale in a new NBC comedy called "Continuity." Entertainment Weekly's Watching TV blog reports that the show is "about a community college full of misfit students and teachers," and also stars Chevy Chase. Check out a preview below and see what you think; we're so used to seeing McHale introduce "Hills" and "Rock of Love" clips that it may take a while for us to get used to him in a different context:

Who wrote that joke?

If you assumed the folks listed in the credits as writers on "Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and other late night chat shows are the ones who come up with all the gags you hear in the host's monologue, think again. This fascinating piece from the L.A. Times discusses the underground world of freelance joke writers: "an underground network of comedy writers who supply the late-night programs with a constant stream of material. If one of their jokes gets on the air, they get a check for $75 or $100. What they don't get is any credit or union pay."

Conan O'Brien is one of the few late night hosts who does not use freelancers, and the article says he will continue that practice when he starts hosting "The Tonight Show" next month.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Does David Letterman's booker have a warped sense of humor?

Perusing the upcoming guest listings for "Late Show with David Letterman," Talk Show News was very amused to note that on May 20, Stephen Colbert is scheduled to appear -- along with Brooklyn folk/pop band Grizzly Bear.

For the non-Colbert fans in the house, one of the running gags on the "Report" is the host's deep hatred of ursines, which he refers to as "godless killing machines."

Friday, May 1, 2009

The ratings race

From Nielsen, here's the number of people watching each of the late night talk shows (season-to-date numbers):

11:35 p.m. ET
NBC "Tonight," 5.2 million viewers
CBS "Late Show," 3.9 million viewers
ABC "Nightline," 3.9 million viewers

12:05 a.m. ET
ABC "Kimmel," 1.7 million viewers

12:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," 2.1 million viewers
CBS "Late Late Show," 1.9 million viewers

1:35 a.m. ET
NBC "Last Call," 1.2 million viewers

And, for comparison, the competition on Comedy Central:
Comedy Central, 11 p.m. ET, "The Daily Show," 1.7 million
Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m. ET, "The Colbert Report," 1.1 million

Keep in mind that "The Daily Show" and "Colbert" are rerun several times each day, so the number of viewers who see each show is no doubt quite a bit greater than the number above.

And showing what a habit "The Tonight Show" is for many viewers, even when Jay had reruns last week due to his illness, he still beat "Late Show with David Letterman." It remains to be seen what those loyal Leno watchers will do when Conan takes over next month.