Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Late night audience welcomes Jay back; critics, not so much

Sorry, Team Coco: Jay Leno got huge ratings on his first night back on the rebooted "Tonight."

According to the just-updated "Fast Nationals" ratings, "In total viewers... 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' (6.6 million) ranked #1 among the major networks in the time period over 'Late Show' (3.8 million) and 'Nightline' (4.1 million). The 'Tonight' margin over 'Late Show' in total viewers in these fast-national results is 73 percent."

Leno was twice as popular as Dave in the 18-49 demographic.

Of course, 18 million viewers tuned in to watch Jay's first prime time show back in September, and Conan's first-night ratings were boffo, too -- in fact, Leno's numbers last night were down 24% from the first "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" -- so I'm sure NBC won't be too quick to crown Jay "the new/old king of late night."

Not surprisingly, the critics -- many of them the same folks who declared "The Jay Leno Show" the worst program of 2009 -- had their knives sharpened. USA Today's Robert Bianco called Jay's monologue "tired, lame and unfunny. In other words, typical of the real Leno, rather than the Leno of public-relations imagination."

Time's James Poniewozik said Jay's material was far from fresh. "A news item about Dick Cheney's heart problems led to a string of golden-oldie Bush jokes, as if the former President too had suddenly taken back his old job from the new guy."

The Chicago Tribune's Steve Johnson riffed on the Beatles song ("Get Back") that was used to promote the return of Leno to 11:35. "Monday night's uncomfortable retaking of late night's most celebrated throne, suggested different Beatles tunes: 'Fixing a Hole,' 'I Should Have Known Better,' and, in the host's unambitious, comfort-food hour, 'Let It Be'... this new effort had neither pop, nor sizzle, nor surprise, and no amount of cheerleading from unconvincingly hyper first guest Jamie Foxx could make it seem otherwise."

And, piling on, perennial Leno foe Howard Stern told CBS' Harry Smith that "just the mere mention of Jay Leno's name makes me to want to vomit."

In case you missed the show's "Wizard of Oz" style cold open, here it is:


  1. hetyd4580 said...

    Interesting blog, TalkShowNews. Jay Leno (part of Baby Boom Generation, born 1942-1953) vs. Conan O'Brien (part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965) reflects a broader battle happening throughout Western cultures: the emergence of Generation Jones vs. Boomers clinging to power. GenJoneser Obama's ascendance following 16 years of Boomer Presidencies is the most visible example, but we find it throughout the West, where more than two thirds of EU leaders are part of GenJones (following two decades of Boomer dominance).

    I think this GenJones trend is worth knowing about. Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten lots of media attention, and many prominent commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press' annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. I found this page helpful because it gives a pretty good overview of recent media interest in GenJones: http://generationjones.com/2009latest.html

  2. Anonymous said...

    And with tonight's Sarah Palin vs. Mitt Romney guest match up, the ratings war should be a no brainer...just like Sarah Palin! ~ freelols.com

  3. Keonyn said...

    Sad news indeed, but I'll wait a few weeks for everything to settle in to a typical pattern before I give much credit to ratings.

    With that said, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he does get his ratings back. This country is full of people who latch on to crappy celebs and people who don't deserve it, so why not add Leno and NBC to the list?