Friday, November 6, 2009

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.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I'm a late night comedy fan and have been reading all the articles, interviews, etc. from the last year about the changes in late night TV. The last paragraph in your post is the most intelligent idea I've yet to read on the matter. It plays completely to Leno's strengths, sets up O'Brien well, and gives the affiliates an advantage.

    Since Leno's never really seemed to care much about the interviews and bands (he considers himself a comedian, as opposed to Letterman who considers himself a broadcaster), he won't be losing face to give that up. Plus he would still have enough time to have the odd guest here and there if desired. Homerun.

  2. Anonymous said...

    What I dont understand, is this overwhelming NEED to have a show with Leno in it. Why cant NBC just say "look, we tried it. Didnt work. Sorry, but youre gone", and say a final goodbye to him? Then, fill the 10pm slot with a scripted show like before. As long as they can produce a worthy series, it would be better for them and the affiliates, not to mention the hundreds of jobs it would bring back. It may be much more expensive for them, but in the long run, I think it would pay off.

    I think Lenos career in TV has run its course and he should bow down gracefully while he still can (Kinda. If you dont count this 10pm thing as a major failure).

    What Im saying is, do we really, absolutely HAVE to have a Leno show? I dont think so.


  3. Anonymous said...

    As much as that would make sense, how ironic would that basically put Jay back where he was and "demote" Conan to midnight?
    Although at this point Conan should feel lucky he's still got a job.

    - Octobrain

  4. Shane G. said...

    I hate the news, I'm happy they have shitty ratings because of Leno.

    Why should Conan be lucky? He's funnier than Jay is/was. That is, unless you're an oldfuck.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Conan's down 47 percent at "Tonight" compared to Jay Leno a year ago. Do the math, unless you're a dumbfuck.

    - Octobrain

  6. Anonymous said...

    Oh come on! Leno should step down gracefully while he still can?

    My memory must be getting worse since I can't remember anyone saying Letterman should step down gracefully after losing 10 straight years to Leno...

  7. Anonymous said...

    Thats right, Letterman lost to Leno for a number of years, but the thing that makes them different is the quality of the shows they put out. Even if Lettermans show was rated lower for all those years, most of the critics and reviewers and people with a brain and a sense of humor, said that he had the better show. He never had a mediocre show. He bests Leno in every category that you compare them in, that matters.

    Dave is gonna retire soon anyway, so no need to push him out the door. But with Leno, its something else. Its like NBC and everyone else wants to hang on to his mediocrity for as long as they can, as if they somehow needed it badly and couldnt live without. Its ridiculous.

    As opposed to Lenos retirement,the day when Letterman leaves the airwaves, it will be a very sad day for TV broadcasting, but with Jay Leno, it will be like "finally! I thought he was NEVER gonna leave! Jeez!".

    And Im not just saying all this cuz of Leno's bad ratings as of late. Im saying it cuz he just cant hold a candle to Letterman and not just him, but other hosts too. I dont know how Leno has made it in TV all these years to tell you the truth.


  8. Shane G. said...

    And what math is there to do? You looked up the ratings. But it isn't surprising anyway, I'm sure a large part of the old tonight show audience don't like Conan, and I'm sure that some of Conan's old fans quit watching as well.

  9. Anonymous said...

    I quit watching Conan because his new time slot collides with the Late Show, but if that wasnt an issue, Id still be watching him. At least the first half hour of the show, with the comedy bits and such, since his interviewing doesnt excite me too much anymore.

  10. Anonymous said...

    I'm the guy who posted in Comment No. 1. Despite what Santiago thinks about Leno's comedy, the fact is that if NBC jettisons him Leno will go to ABC, start at the 11:30 (10:30 in the Midwest where I am) time slot, and go back to killing the competition, like he did for a decade. THAT is why NBC cannot fire him.

    Re Octobrain's comment: I'm in my mid-twenties and grew up with Conan, as did most everyone I know. Long-term O'Brien is the only late night host with any staying power. Most ppl my age are already tuning to Comedy Central at night, O'Brien's the only one who can compete with this crowd. Regardless of his current ratings (which have been attributed in large part to Leno's low lead-in ratings), when Letterman retires O'Brien will be sitting there ready, tried and experienced, with a large built-in audience of viewers who consider him "their" host.

    What isn't being mentioned here is the real game changer: a major network stealing Stewart from the Daily Show. So far he's been ambivalent on the issue, but I've never heard Stewart say "no, never," either.