Monday, November 30, 2009

Jay Leno preempted by the Prez

For the first time since it began airing in September, "The Jay Leno Show" will be preempted tomorrow night, due to the President's speech on the war in Afghanistan. The speech will air at 8 PM Eastern time, while "The Biggest Loser," one of NBC's few genuine hits, will run from 9-11.

According to The Live Feed blog, Leno's ratings have stabilized. "For the past 11 episodes in a row, Leno's program has either maintained or improved its adult demo rating compared to the previous week," writes James Hibberd. "Often, 'Leno Show' has increased despite a declining lead-in as the holidays approach. And last week was Leno's most-watched since mid-October." Of course, that "doesn't change the fact that on any given evening, his shows is usually the lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network."

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Leno's biggest competition isn't other 10 PM shows like "CSI" and "The Mentalist": it's recorded programs. "With one-third of American TV households now equipped with DVRs like TiVo, the 10 p.m. hour is emerging as a popular time for people to catch up on what they missed earlier in the evening, or earlier in the week," says the AP's David Bauder.

Beginning in mid-January, people who long to see more drama at 10 PM without relying on their TiVos can simply switch over to the USA Network. In what looks an awful lot like an attempt to provide counterprogramming, USA (which is owned by NBC Universal) is putting some of its most popular programs on the air in the 10 o'clock hour: freshman series "White Collar" will air on Tuesdays, "Psych" returns for the second half of its fourth season on Wednesdays, and spy drama "Burn Notice" finishes up its third season on Thursdays.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey time TV: NBC, Lopez say no to reruns

One of the most common search phrases that people use to find this site is, "Why is [name of show] in reruns?" That shouldn't be such a mystery; everyone needs a vacation, even highly-paid talk show hosts (and their less-highly-paid staffs). Thanksgiving is a day off for most people, but some shows will be airing brand-new episodes for the benefit of viewers who want to spend the night relaxing in front of the TV.

NBC will feature a full slate of new shows. Jay Leno and guest Megan Fox will entertain a studio audience made up of members of the U.S. military. Conan O'Brien follows that up with Pee-wee Herman, actor Donald Faison and Bon Jovi, and then Jimmy Fallon will sit down with Robin Williams and "Parks & Recreation" actress Rashida Jones. Finally, Carson Daly and Weezer are on at 1:35 for anyone who hasn't yet fallen into a tryptophan-induced slumber.

Over on TBS, George Lopez offers up a new broadcast with "New Moon"'s Taylor Lautner, "The Hills'" Kristin Cavallari and electro-hop musicians LMFAO.

The next night, Jay, Conan and Carson will be showing reruns, but Fallon has a new program with "SNL" cast member Fred Armisen, actress Carey Mulligan and chef Daniel Boulud (with ideas for Thanksgiving leftovers, perhaps?).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TSN Holiday Gift Guide: Presents for the talk show fan in your life

Only five and a half weeks 'til Christmas! If you're shopping for a talk show lover, here are some great gift ideas:

Late Night BookLate Night with David Letterman: The Book: Sure, it was published way back in 1984, but copies are available on for a penny, and it would make a fun present for the Dave fan in your life who was too young to watch his old NBC broadcast -- or the nostalgic older fan. You can't watch these segments, since the show is out of circulation, but you can read them: "Hotel Etiquette," starring Larry "Bud" Melman! "Dave's Video Funhouse"! "The Museum of the Hard to Believe"! And so much more.

Dueling Memoirs: What Craig Ferguson enthusiast wouldn't adore the audio book version of American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, read by Craig himself? If your friend is a Paul Shaffer fan, pick up the keyboard player's unabridged recording of We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga.

Chelsea Handler's Playboy Cover: It's only available on newsstands, but if you can't find it in your local store, MyMags will sell you the individual issue.

Conan O'Brien fans who can't get enough of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog will enjoy the rude canine's talking key chain toy, which spouts signature phrases like "I keed!" and "You're a great friend, for me to poop on." There's more Triumph madness on this double feature DVD, which includes a "best of Triumph" and O'Brien's tenth anniversary special.

If your friend likes Jay Leno, or bad movies, he might be amazed to know that the host co-starred with "Karate Kid"'s Pat Morita in a film called "Collision Course." The 1989 flick never got a theatrical release, due to the bankruptcy of distributor De Laurentiis Entertainment, but it's still in print on DVD! Leno plays Detroit cop Tony Costas, who teams with a Japanese detective (Morita) to track down a stolen engine prototype.

Regis Philbin and his wife, Joy, have recorded a new CD called Just You. Just Me. With standards like "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" and "This Guy's In Love With You" (featuring special guest Paul Shaffer!), this might be just the ticket for your grandma.

Anyone who misses Jimmy Fallon's old "SNL" sketches, like "Barry Gibb Talk Show" and "Sully & Denise," will appreciate his "best of" DVD. A CD by Fallon's house band, The Roots, will please hip-hop fans.

For the future correspondent, pick up a "Daily Show" desk set, with a spiral notebook, pen, and sticky notes. Any Colbert fan would want their very own "On Notice" dry-erase board. Also, Stephen's 2007 book, I Am America (And So Can You!), is finally out in paperback. For the intellectual, Stephen Colbert and Philosophy: I Am Philosophy (And So Can You!) features chapters like "Is Stephen Colbert America's Socrates?" and ponders questions such as "Has truthiness taken the place of truth?"

G'day, Chelsea! Handler goes down under

Next week, "Chelsea Lately" will air a series of shows shot in Australia.

"The shows will be recorded at Sydney’s Foxtel Studios in front of a live audience, will feature Australian guests, and will be broadcast to a worldwide TV audience," according to an E! press release. "For the sharp-tongued star, this will be her first trip to Australia and the first time E! has ever shot a series of talk shows outside the US. Local celebrities shall be put on notice, as Chelsea seeks out the best and worst of Australian popular culture for her inimitable, frank and always funny verdict.

"Says Handler about the upcoming trip to Australia, 'I am so excited to turn the tables on a country and finally be the one going down instead of the one being gone down upon...I love kangaroos.'"

(Incidentally, this may be the "the first time E! has ever shot a series of talk shows outside the US," but another one of the channel's stars, "The Soup"'s Joel McHale, went to Australia last spring, and taped a special "Soup" episode for broadcast down under.)

Chelsea's Aussie guests will include talk show host Rove McManus, "True Blood" actor Ryan Kwanten, and nature program host "Ranger Stacey" Thomson.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lou Dobbs, VP Joe Biden to sit down with Jon Stewart next week

Lou Dobbs will be the guest on next Wednesday's "Daily Show."

Dobbs has been in the news since he abruptly quit his CNN talk show a couple days ago -- there's even been speculation that the reason he walked away was because he wants to run for president.

It won't be Dobbs' first public chat since leaving CNN, though; he'll be appearing on Monday's Bill O'Reilly program.

In other big TDS guest news: vice president Joe Biden will be visiting Jon on Tuesday the 17th. It won't be Biden's first appearance on the Comedy Central program, but it will mark the first time a sitting vice president has visited. (The closest Stewart could come to Dick Cheney was his wife, Lynne, in October 2007.)

The rest of TDS's upcoming guest lineup: author Jake Adelstein on Monday and rock band Jack's Mannequin, for some reason, on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

David Letterman and Andre Agassi: Bye-bye hairpiece

On tonight's "Late Show with David Letterman," Dave speaks to Andre Agassi about something the host calls "more stunning than the drug revelation" -- the tennis player's mullet hairpiece.

"That is not my hair," the now-bald Agassi admitted when Letterman displayed a 1990 photo of the star with flowing blond locks.

"It's not a wig, it's a system, is that what we have going on there?" asked Dave.

"It's a weave system," said Agassi. "The night before the French Open final, I used the wrong conditioner and it started to come off... I've never prayed for a result in my life. I prayed that day for that wig to stay on. I had about 50 bobby pins holding it down."

One lucky lady winds up with a souvenir!

David Letterman Case: Dueling lawyers!

ABC's "Good Morning America" featured an 8-minute interview with the lawyers involved in the David Letterman extortion case: Gerald L. Shargel, Joe Halderman's attorney, and defending Dave, Daniel J. Horwitz. You can watch the entire segment here.

As I mentioned yesterday, Shargel's point is that Halderman was simply a man trying to sell a story -- he had a First Amendment right! -- and Dave could have paid for it, or not.

Shargel couldn't understand why Halderman bringing the offer to Letterman's car at 6 AM was such a big deal. "There's nothing illegitimate about going to the car where he knew he could effectively deliver the proposal. He knew Letterman's driver, he gave the package to the driver. He didn't break into the car. I don't quite know why people are focusing on that. Would it have been better if he sent it Federal Express? I think that's silly... He had a First Amendment right to create that property, to develop that property."

"This was not a legitimate business transaction," countered Horwitz. "Who negotiates a business transaction at 6 in the morning in the shadows of somebody's apartment building? Who says 'your world's about to collapse'? Who threatens their personal and professional lives? And who says at 6 in the morning, 'I need an answer in 2 hours'? Those are not the earmarks of a legitimate business transaction. Those are the earmarks of classic blackmail."

"I'm sitting here at 3 in the morning in Santa Monica in the dark, so in one sense, that rings hollow," said Shargel, who was appearing via satellite.

Naturally, both attorneys ended with, "I'll see you in court!" "David Letterman is fully prepared to go all the way here, and that means testifying at a trial if necessary," said Horwitz.

"I look forward to that time when I will cross examine David Letterman," responded Shargel.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ratings News: Leno's low, good start for Lopez and Sykes

Bad ratings news for Jay Leno: last night's show had a disastrous 1.2 rating, his lowest to date, in the coveted™ 18-49 demographic. NBC had insisted that Leno only needed a 1.5 rating to be profitable, since the show is so cheap to produce. However, the Monday night football games on ESPN are taking a bite out of Leno's male audience, and ABC's "Castle" and CBS's "CSI: Miami" are also attracting many viewers.

According to the New York Times, Leno's woes are affecting the rest of NBC's late night franchises: "Conan O’Brien on 'The Tonight Show' fell to just a 1.7 rating in the overnight household ratings and the preliminary 18-49 ratings put him well below his main competitor, David Letterman on CBS... Jimmy Fallon hit his lowest number to date Monday night in those household ratings, a 0.9, well behind his main competitor, Craig Ferguson on CBS, who scored a 1.7."

Things are looking cheerier for new entrants Wanda Sykes and George Lopez. The debut of TBS's "Lopez Tonight" was a big hit with young demos: "Lopez managed to surpass the season averages for shows starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and Craig Ferguson­ and in some cases even Conan O’Brien and David Letterman." 1.02 million 18-49 viewers tuned in, "which beat the regular performances of those first four hosts. He also had 608,000 viewers between the ages of 18 and 34."

Of course, Leno started strong, too. The question is whether the people who were curious enough to tune in last night will stick around.

Sykes' first outing on FOX averaged a 2.2 rating in the overnights. Meanwhile, NBC's "Saturday Night Live," featuring guest host Taylor Swift, scored a 5, one of its best of the year so far.

David Letterman Case: It wasn't extortion, honest!

Now it can be revealed: the legal tactic that Joe Halderman will use to assert his innocence. According to the New York Times, Halderman "was simply trying to sell a story, not extort money."

His lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel, is seeking to have the attempted grand larceny charge against his client dismissed. “This was a commercial transaction,” he told reporters at the courthouse. “It was nothing more.”

Writes the Times' John Eligon: "What Mr. Halderman did was legal because the information he possessed had its own independent value – meaning that, even without going to Mr. Letterman first, a third party, such as a book publisher or movie producer, would have paid for it, according to the motion."

So Halderman wasn't trying to blackmail Letterman -- he was simply trying to peddle a heartwarming tale of a talk show host... and the women who loved him. If Dave had said no, he probably could have sold it to "Law & Order."

The broadcaster's lawyer, Daniel J. Horwitz, stated that despite his client's three decades in the biz, Letterman has never been accused of sexual harassment. “Mr. Letterman is not on trial,” Mr. Horwitz said. “Any attempt to focus attention on Mr. Letterman, who’s the victim in this case, is an attempt to divert attention away from Mr. Halderman.”

George Lopez: Did you watch?

So apparently no one in the vast Talk Show News reading public watched Wanda Sykes' new talk show, as there were no comments on that post. Based on the comments that do come in, there are lots of Conan and Dave fans in my audience. But did anyone click over to TBS before "Tonight" or "Late Show" kicked off to watch the debut of "Lopez Tonight"?

I'm no Lopez fan, but I forced myself to watch at least the first half hour (the things I do for this blog). He kicked off with a 10-minute monologue that was very light on topical references, except a couple remarks about Sammy Sosa's oddly bleached skin and the swine flu. It seemed like his usual stand-up fare, with lots of gags about his family and ethnic background, which makes me wonder how he'll be able to sustain it over the course of weeks and months. Maybe he'll gradually fold in more of the usual late night talk show topics.

After a brief appearance by a nightshirt-clad Ellen DeGeneres (she was trying to sleep next door, but the Lopez audience was just having too much fun!), the comedian brought a couple of audience members up on stage to play a race-based game show. Interestingly, Wanda Sykes did a similar thing on her program -- slides of Asian celebrities were shown and her celebrity panel had to guess which country they were from. Lopez's duo had to watch brief man-on-the-street clips of minorities being interviewed by a show staffer and guess how they would respond to certain stereotypical questions: had the black dude ever been in jail? Did the Asian guy have a small penis? Hee-larious!

There was something self-congratulatory about the whole affair, as if Lopez thought he was the Sonia Sotomayor of talk show hosts. Maybe once he relaxes a bit, the show will find its groove, but I definitely won't be watching unless he has a guest I'm just dying to see. Maybe I'll tune in for Lisa Lampanelli tomorrow. Scheduled to appear tonight: Jamie Foxx and Marc Anthony; Wednesday, Queen Latifah and Oscar De La Hoya, along with the divine Miss L; and on Thursday, Larry David and Kelly Osbourne.

What did the nation's TV critics have to say? The Boston Herald's Mark A. Perigard was harsh, criticizing Lopez's monologue ("a relentless volley of duds") and the ethnic-stereotype bit ("a cringeworthy segment that seemed never-ending").'s Laura Martinez wrote a piece titled "I Might Be Mexican, but I Don't Have to Like 'Lopez Tonight'": "I might be missing something here, but I don't find jokes about Mexican food and the gases it produces really funny... To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, still one of my favorite comedians, Mr. Lopez's comedy doesn't offend me as a 'minority'; it offends me as a funny person."'s Ken Tucker was friendlier, complimenting Lopez's "disarming, relaxed air that puts him ahead of, say, Jimmy Fallon’s jittery opening night." Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times called it "a standard, if entertaining hour... Lopez took [Arsenio] Hall's vision of a funky good time and blew it up to enormous proportions." The Onion AV Club's Todd VanDerWerff gave the show a B minus: Lopez was "[a]n alert and interested interviewer," but said his "jokes all went to fairly expected places."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wanda Sykes: Did you watch?

Looks like Wanda Sykes' debut on Saturday night got decent ratings -- "up 16 percent from MADtv’s fourth-quarter average in 2008," according to preliminary Nielsen numbers.

I tuned in, and was surprised at how boldly partisan Sykes' monologue was; if any conservative FOX News aficionados happened to be watching, they probably weren't for long. In a world of late night TV monologues where the hosts usually try to strike a balance between jokes about the GOP and the Dems, Sykes is unabashedly liberal. That might turn some people off, but I found it rather refreshing to see such a strong point of view. Wishy-washy she's not.

Then there was a pretaped comedy bit which might just have been the raunchiest thing I have ever seen on network television, in which Sykes tried to recycle a box of old sex toys and promote environmentally friendly new ones, such as a solar-powered vibrator and reusable condoms. I'm amazed that one got OK'd by the censors.

A segment in which Sykes and sidekick Keith Robinson riffed about a girl at an Obama rally did not elicit any chuckles, but I did laugh at her remarks about Nicolas Cage's recent money troubles -- his bad financial decisions included buying a mansion made up of hundreds of smaller mansions.

The best part of the show, I thought, was actually the panel discussion, where Mary Lynn Rajskub, Daryl "Chill" Mitchell and Phil Keoghan, cocktails in hand, chatted about a few lightweight news stories, such as a hotel in space that will cater to people willing to pay $4.5 million for the privilege of visiting. Of course, I'm a total sucker for Keoghan, the charming "Amazing Race" host (that space hotel would make a killer pit stop), but the discussion was fast-paced and funny.

In short, if you were already a Wanda fan, you'll probably like the show; I don't think she'll be making any new converts. Reviews of the program were mostly mixed to negative, with Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker calling the show "awkward," and USA Today's Robert Bianco panning it as a "strained, strident hour that seemed underfunded and, despite all the time put into it, underrehearsed." The St. Petersburg Times' Eric Deggans was a little friendlier, saying the debut was "distinguished mostly by the fact that it didn't suck out loud," and that her "unerring standup comedy style... saved a lot of borderline moments."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wanda Sykes and George Lopez: New Talk Show Alert!

Two new talk shows are getting ready to launch: "The Wanda Sykes Show" on FOX, and and George Lopez's "Lopez Tonight" on TBS. Sykes' program will only be airing on Saturdays, while Lopez will be on four nights a week, beginning Monday.

What can viewers expect? There will be guests, of course -- Eva Longoria-Parker, Ellen DeGeneres and Kobe Bryant on Lopez's show; Mary Lynn Rajskub, Daryl "Chill" Mitchell and "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan are slated to appear on the debut of "Sykes."

According to an Associated Press story, "Lopez promises to bring 'the party back to late-night,' signaling a looser, hipper hour in the tradition of 'The Arsenio Hall Show,' said analyst Bill Carroll of media buyer Katz Television in New York. Sykes is planning Bill Maher-type panels with both lighthearted and serious discussion of politics and culture as part of her mix."

Sykes gave TV Guide's Natalie Abrams a rundown of what she's got in store: "I will do a monologue. There's a piece with my friend Keith [Robinson]. This is the first time you'll actually see me with someone who knows me. I can't fake it with Keith, he knows me and he calls me on my bullshit. It'll be great to have that relationship. Also, we have what we call Wandarama, which is the weekend review. We'll have a lot of video clips and it'll end with a big produced three-minute piece. We have the panel guests with my other friend Porsche, who's a drag queen. I treat this show as my time where I can also hang out with my friends. There might not be some big celebrities come through, but it'll be my real friends."

Lopez told Access Atlanta blogger Rodney Ho that he "will have the basic tenets of a talk show: monologue, skits, interviews, musical acts. But he said the set will resemble a comedy club and he will move around the stage. He will use hand-held cameras to generate more of a party atmosphere."

Jay Leno: Could his show be moving to 11 PM?

It's only a rumor, of course, but what is the Internet for if not to spread unfounded rumors? Tom Jicha of South Florida's Sun-Sentinel passes on this possible scoop, which he heard from "a friend with inside ties to the TV business" -- if Comcast winds up buying a controlling stake in NBC, "The Jay Leno Show" could wind up moving to 11 PM, clearing the way for local newscasts at 10. That would leave Conan O'Brien's "Tonight" with the midnight slot, and bring back the head-to-head competition between David Letterman and his ol' rival Jay.

"The affiliates are justifiably upset that Leno's low-rated 10 p.m. show is hurting their late newscasts," writes Jicha. "Giving them a 10 p.m. news window in front of Leno alleviates that and gives local stations an hour with a substantially larger available audience." Presumably, the newscasts, now 35 minutes long, would expand to fill the entire 10-11 slot; a lot of FOX affiliates already do this, and many of them compete quite effectively with the network programs airing at that hour.

Jicha suggests that if Jay's show is airing between 11 and midnight, he could go back to frontloading it with Headlines and Jaywalking, signature features that are now relegated to the last 10 minutes of his program, in order to give him a "35-minute jump on David Letterman." Of course, that might mean people would watch Jay's monologue and comedy bits, and then switch over to Dave at 11:35 rather than endure the Green Car Challenge, 10 @ 10, or the other less-popular filler segments that Leno has introduced.

I have a better idea. Give the affiliates 10-11 PM; air an abbreviated "Jay Leno Show" from 11-11:35; and keep Conan in his current time slot. It seems obvious (to me, anyway) that moving "Tonight" to midnight would be a huge loss of prestige for the franchise, and not exactly a vote of confidence from NBC. But why on earth does Jay Leno need a full hour? He's never been a particularly good interviewer. He's a comedian. Monologue, Headlines, another short comedy segment, and out. The affiliates are happy, Leno doesn't have to pretend to be interested in what Sandra Bullock has to say, and Conan won't lose face.

You're welcome, NBC.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stephen Colbert and Speedskating: Joey Cheek to appear on Thursday

On Monday's show, Stephen Colbert announced that the "Colbert Nation" would be sponsoring the U.S. Speedskating team, which had been left in the lurch after its biggest donor, Dutch bank DSB, declared bankruptcy in October. Speedskater Dan Jansen appeared on that episode, and on Thursday's "Report," another star of the sport will help Colbert plug his fund raising effort: Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek. Cheek is a friend of the show, having appeared on Aug. 12, 2008, to promote his Team Darfur coalition.

Last night, Colbert reported that viewers had already donated $40,000 to the team. The show is hoping to raise $300,000, the amount that had been pledged by DSB.

According to an Associated Press story published before Colbert's campaign began, despite the fact that speedskating is responsible for more U.S. gold medals than any other Olympic sport, the athletes don't have it easy. "They work part-time jobs. They scrimp to pay the bills. Some even have filed for food stamps to make sure they get enough to eat."

Even before DSB went out of business, U.S. Speedskating already was planning to suspend its athlete stipends at the end of March, giving the organization a chance to reassess finances and decide how much it could afford to dole out at the start of the new fiscal year June 1.

"After March, everything shuts down," said Robert Crowley, the executive director of U.S. Speedskating. "We told the athletes, 'This is where it's going to end, so budget yourself accordingly.' We've tried to be real upfront and fair with them."
Hopefully, the heroes in the Colbert Nation will come through and support the athletes. "We're highly optimistic that the country is going to get behind this and get behind the Colbert Nation and support this amazing team," Crowley told the AP after his appearance on the "Report." "I don't have any idea if it's going to make $5 or $500,000. I couldn't tell you."

Colbert is reportedly considering taking his show on the road to Vancouver for next year's Winter Games.

According to this Time article, Colbert's staff contacted U.S. Speedskating and proposed the deal. Crowley wanted to make sure the show knew the sport was no laughing matter: "We stressed to the Colbert staff that we have exquisite athletes who have trained their entire lives for that Olympic platform. They can't minimize that. They get it, and they recognize that."

If you would like to help the cause, and feel that extra burst of patriotic pride when you see the Colbert Nation logo on the speedskaters' uniforms, you can make a donation at the US Speedskating web site.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jey Leno's Rope-a-Dope Strategy

In his recent interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Jay Leno spoke candidly about all sorts of things. However, it did leave me with a couple of questions.

Number one: "Jay, are you having fun?" For all the talk about laughs at 10 PM, Leno appears to approach his job with a kind of grim determination. A couple illustrative quotes: "I think people like a fighter. And if you just keep swinging, eventually people are going to get tired of hitting you. They're going to say, 'We've been beating this guy up for six months, let's move on.'" And: "I get a certain amount of satisfaction from pounding my head against the wall."

Those statements made me think of Muhammad Ali's old "rope-a-dope" strategy, in which a fighter allows himself to be punched until his opponent tires out and starts making mistakes. It may be effective in certain circumstances, but you still wind up bruised and battered.

The only indication in the article that Leno enjoys what he's doing is this: "
I like being on TV and writing jokes." Not exactly a passionate statement. If Jay had worked at a supermarket instead of becoming a comedian, he probably would have been like that 104-year-old who still stocked the shelves well into his eleventh decade, or a lottery winner who keeps his routine factory job after his big score. I admire his work ethic; I also wish his show was funnier.

Number two: "What's it like to be married to Jay Leno?" Forget about the Obamas, I want the dirt on the Leno marriage. Mavis Leno is, by all accounts, not one of those Beverly Hills ladies-who-lunch who fills her days with pilates classes and appointments with her plastic surgeon; she has been active for over 10 years in the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. Still, considering Jay's workaholism, as well as his time-consuming hobby of tinkering with old cars, this must be a woman who spends a lot of time on her own. Jay famously claims never to vacation; if he ever did go on a pleasure trip, he'd probably be one of those guys who plans the entire thing from a guidebook before he leaves home: "If we leave the Louvre by noon, we can get to the Eiffel Tower by one!" Does Mavis go off and see the world by herself or with girlfriends? David Letterman may not be a candidate for Husband of the Year, but at least he spends his breaks with Regina and Harry in Montana or St. Barts instead of playing Vegas showrooms or appearing at corporate gigs.

I did find one brief interview with both Lenos, and she alludes a couple times about the difficulty of adjusting to Jay's job at "Tonight" ("[H]e was gone a lot, and it was not only a new situation for him, it was a situation I had never experienced"). Since they're celebrating their 30th anniversary next year, she obviously managed to find a way to deal with it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jay Leno: "I never say 'no mas'"

In a lengthy interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Jay Leno talks about the reaction to his new show, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, and much more. A few highlights:

On negative press coverage: "You don't take it personally because there's really no fun in an upbeat story. The fun is, they did this and let's watch it fall. I enjoy being the underdog."

On "Tonight": "
Would I have preferred to stay at 11:30? Yeah, sure. I would have preferred that. I think it's too soon to say whether I regret anything or not….My thing is, I did 'The Tonight Show' for 17 years, that's what I did. It's like the America's Cup; you won it, they can't take it away from you. So now you try this and you see what happens. Do I enjoy the battle? Yes, I get a certain amount of satisfaction from pounding my head against the wall."

On feeling satisfied because of Conan's lower ratings: "No.
There is nothing that kills creativity more than bitterness. You get no satisfaction from that at all. You really, really don't."

On Letterman: "
He's not being a hypocrite; Dave has never set himself up as [a model citizen]. If it were me, it would kill me. I'm the guy who's been married 29 years. But Dave has never pretended to be Mr. Moral America, he's never set himself up that way. He's not a hypocrite. I don't know how it will be viewed. He doesn't do corporate days like me, he's not as advertiser-friendly as I am. I'm the guy when Coke or Pepsi is here, I come down and shake hands and take pictures, but he doesn't do that. I don't think it will have a big effect at all."

On the affiliates: "
I called a bunch of them last week. Unless they are the greatest actors in the world, they seem to be hanging in there and say they are in it for the long haul. I called Baltimore, Boston, the head of the affiliate board. They don't see it as dire as a lot of people are making it out to be….I think they seemed pleased that someone on at 10 o'clock is concerned about their well-being and their lead-in."

On his relationship with NBC: "
I have the same friends I had in high school, and these [at NBC] are acquaintances. You have a business relationship; as long as you are making money for someone, you are friends. And when you're not making money for someone, you're not friends. I get it….As long I'm making money for the company, I will be here. When I'm not making money for the company, I won't be here, and I understand how that works."

Jay curses! Who knew? "
I look at what makes other competitors weak: alcohol, drugs, sex, instability emotionally. And I go, 'OK, let me make myself strong by being the long-distance guy.' So I try to fashion myself on the fact that emotionally I can take it. Physically I tried boxing and I got the shit kicked out of me. But emotionally I can take body shots all day long and that doesn't really bother me. I realize that's where my strength is. I see other comics say, 'Fuck that, I'm not going back to that club, they treated me...' [And I say], 'Great, I got that one.'"

On giving up: "
I never say 'no mas.' It's not my call. I've never walked away from anything in my life….This is what I do. You keep plowing ahead. If someone wants to take you out, I'm out."

Halloween Talk Show Round-up

It's November 1. You probably woke up either with a hangover or surrounded by discarded Fun Size Snickers wrappers -- or both. But did you have time on Halloween to catch up on all the ways our favorite talk shows celebrated the holiday? If not, now's the time to sit back and enjoy some clips.

Picking on Jay Leno is so tiresome, but honestly, his "new Halloween products" sketch was not ready for prime time -- or even public access, for that matter. There were a couple of major malfunctions, including a Balloon Boy costume that didn't inflate. It's no surprise that the video clip on only shows the first half of the segment.

In the Talk Show News household, it's not Halloween without David Letterman's annual trick or treat sketch. Even if the costumes are just so-so, the bit is always worth watching just for Dave's interactions with the kids, and to see which "treats" he's handing out. Best costume this year: the junior Joaquin Phoenix. It was also fun to see the kids boogieing in the background as musical guest Weezer played -- kudos to them for convincing Paul Shaffer and the gang to dress in Weezer Snuggies. The clips are available on the "Late Show Video" page.

The most elaborate Halloween celebrations are always on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Live with Regis and Kelly." Kimmel, his band and Guillermo (sadly, Uncle Frank is ill and was absent this year) dressed as Muppets -- Jimmy, in a Big Bird outfit, welcomed guest Paris Hilton, who was clad as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz." The vapid Paris is not one of my favorite guests, but it was funny to see her admit to Jimmy that she had no idea who Alex Trebek was (he was asking her which celebrities would be let in to her Halloween party without an invitation) and bragging that she's bowled a 600. As for musicians Slipknot, well, every day is Halloween for this band that always plays in costumes and masks. Watch the show here.

Meanwhile, Regis and Kelly win the Most Costume Changes prize -- in their Reality Bites special, they dressed up as Jon and Kate, "Bachelor" Jason and Melissa, Susan Boyle and Lady Gaga, "Biggest Loser" trainers Bob and Jillian, and more. Check it out here.

There are only so many hours in the day, so I wasn't able to watch everything -- did anyone out there catch Conan, Craig or Jimmy's Halloween antics?