Friday, August 21, 2009

Jay Leno: Why men hog the remote control

Talk Show News is getting tired of writing about Jay Leno, but his 10 PM debut is only 23 days away (thanks, countdown clock!) and the man is everywhere. Today, the Wall Street Journal profiled "TV's most famous workhorse," who is gearing up for his show by doing stand-up. And talk about fresh ideas: among Leno's routines are "jokes about why women love cats," "why men must dominate the remote control," and "a riff about the warnings on prescription medication." The article is accompanied by a little gallery of Leno through the ages, from the open-shirted swinger look he sported in the '70s to the white-haired, flag-pin-wearing Jay of today, and one can't help but wonder if some of those gags have been in his stand-up arsenal since the Carter era. "I don't like the edgy comics out there," said a 60-year-old retiree quoted in the piece. "Mr. Leno, she added, belongs more to 'the age of Johnny Carson.'" I'm sure the demographic bean counters at NBC will love that, since that woman's demographic is about as desirable to the Peacock Network as a 2-year-old Ford Focus would be to car collector Leno.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Chronicle TV writer Tim Goodman digs up some quotes from the Television Critics' Association press tour, exposing the anger that people in the industry feel about NBC's decision to dump five hours of scripted drama. "I feel they should take the American flag down in front of the building and just put up a white one, because they've clearly given up," says producer Peter Tolan ("Rescue Me"). "They've clearly just said, 'Look, we can't develop. We can't develop anything that's going to stick ... clearly can't find anything with any traction, so we quit.' Am I wrong? I don't think I'm wrong."

"One area that I haven't seen you people write much about -- I wish you'd hold NBC's feet to the fire a little bit more (over), is they talk about how the 'Leno' show's going to be cheaper to make," said Shawn Ryan (creator of "The Shield," show runner on "The Unit"). "But what's the value of a show after it's aired? They can't sell that overseas. They can't sell it on DVD. No one's interested in watching an episode of it three weeks later because all the topical humor is no longer topical.

"And so you can talk about how a show like 'Heroes' on NBC is very expensive to make, but the fact is it has value today all across the world. It's going to have value tomorrow in the DVD market, online. It's going to have a lot of value. There's a reason why these companies are in this business. It's because these shows, when they work, make a lot of money."