Saturday, January 16, 2010

NBC execs to other late night hosts: Quit making fun of Jay!

NBC executives are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment, has had enough of David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien picking on Jay Leno. "There's a certain amount of kidding that goes on between these personalities which can often be funny," said Gaspin. "But this has definitely crossed the line. Jay is the consummate professional and one of the hardest-working people in television. It's a shame that he's being pulled into this."

Earlier, NBC Sports' Dick Ebersol took aim at Dave and Conan, saying it was "chicken-hearted and gutless to blame a guy you couldn't beat in the ratings."

Now the question is, will there be an anti-Jay backlash once he returns to "The Tonight Show" after the Olympics? Former WNBC reporter Doug Spero, now an associate professor of mass communication at Meredith College in North Carolina, predicted Jay will come out on top again. "This is going to solidify him at 'Tonight Show' for as long as he wants," Spero said.

Bill Zehme, who co-authored Leno's autobiography Leading With My Chin, doesn't necessarily agree. "Jay's not the bad guy -- the bad guy is NBC, really. However, Jay has all the power now," Zehme told the L.A. Times. "The thing Leno should do is walk, period. He's got everything to lose in terms of public popularity by going back. People will look at him differently. He'll be viewed as the bad guy."