Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Jay Leno: Slimmed down and ready for September

A trimmer Jay Leno met the nation's TV critics at the TCA summer press tour -- he's lost 12 pounds since he went off the air by running 4 miles a day -- and offered up some details about his forthcoming show. Instead of stand-up comics, "The Jay Leno Show" will feature "correspondents" (shades of "The Daily Show," perhaps?), including Mikey Day, D.L. Hughley, Rachael Harris, Jim Norton -- and NBC anchorman Brian Williams? "He'll be doing occasional bits like 'stories that weren't good enough to make the news,'" according to this Zap2It account. Well, Williams did host "Saturday Night Live" once.

Zap2It also reveals that "the new set is bigger, won't have a desk and will allow for more interaction between Jay, his guests and the audience. Also, in homage to [U.K. car show] 'Top Gear,' Leno's building a race track in which celebrities will see how fast they can drive a hybrid car through a course -- it's called 'the Green Car Challenge.'"

Anyone who wants to see "Headlines" and "Jaywalking" had better plan on staying up 'til 11, because those popular comedy bits will have a new home in the last 15 minutes of the show, creating a lead-in to the local news. How about musical acts, which traditionally cause massive tune-out? "What music gets you is a great studio audience," Leno said, explaining that his new show will feature musical performances approximately twice a week. "What music doesn't get you is a great television audience."

New Jersey Star-Ledger reporter Alan Sepinwall noted that the host "seemed unconcerned about whether 'The Jay Leno Show' ... would succeed or fail. When a reporter, recalling how nervous he seemed at a similar press conference at the start of his 'Tonight' tenure, asked what made him so confident, he said, frankly, 'I'm rich now.'"

Sepinwall also quoted Jay on his feelings about giving up "Tonight" to Conan O'Brien: "The one thing that kills people in this town is bitterness," Leno offered. "NBC's logic is that when you host 'The Tonight Show," you give it up when you're (still) number one. That way, the show stays strong. I get it; I understand that. It makes perfect sense. But do you feel a little twinge? Sure. That's okay, but you're a grown up. You've had your chance. There's only so much pie you can eat... I enjoyed doing that, when this opportunity came along, they seemed genuinely excited or interested in it.

"This is an interesting challenge," he added. "It's more fun. We're doing things that are interesting that we couldn't do under 'The Tonight Show' banner because it wasn't 'The Tonight Show brand."

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported today on the saturation advertising "The Jay Leno Show" will receive in advance of its premiere (only 39 days away, according to the countdown clock)! Despite the fact that 80% of all Americans know Jay is coming back this fall at 10 PM, NBC plans to advertise Leno on popcorn bags, soda cups and in on-screen advertisements at movie theaters; billboards and bus shelters; and on airplanes, at gyms, in elevators and in New York City taxi cabs. "NBC will also mark the 10th aisle of about 700 supermarkets in 12 American markets," and adopt a portion of California's Highway 10 -- because Jay will be on at 10 PM, get it?

The Times cited NBC network figures that 25% of respondents surveyed "say they will probably or definitely watch the comedy hour." The goal of John Miller, chief marketing officer for the NBC Universal Television Group, is to move that number closer to 30% by September.“Usually our major goal is creating awareness,” said Miller. “This time we have awareness. We have to drive this feverish intent.”


  1. Anonymous said...

    Are there any fatter late night hosts than Kimmel and Leno? if so, then, damn, I may have a shot at it after all! Better get my crappy jokes ready (Leno). heh.

    Santiago R.

  2. Anonymous said...

    The most shocking part about this piece: Jay Leno can run four miles?

    Gee what next: Conan letting audience members actually get within 50 feet of him?

    - Octobrain