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Leno's next stop: What would you do?

Posted Saturday, January 9, 2010, at 2:23 PM

Imagine you're an NBC network executive and you're faced with the dilemma of rebuilding your schedule after 9 p.m. Central time.

Jay Leno's show isn't working ratings-wise, and those Hollywood folks who handle what they call "scripted dramas" are taking potshots at NBC. They claim those five hours a week of prime-time talk should have been filled with dramas and shows that employ large numbers of production workers, scriptwriters, etc.

Anyway, there's talk that Leno's show will move to 10:30 for 30 minutes followed by Conan O'Brien and "Tonight" at 11. Leno's said he didn't want to leave "Tonight" and would like to go back. A Fox employee told The Associated Press that they'd be interest in Conan if he ends up leaving NBC.

O'Brien just hasn't seemed like a good "fit" on "Tonight" like he did in his later show.

What would you do?I'd probably put Leno back on'Tonight" and I'm not sure what I'd do with O'Brien. And I'd quite possibly be wrong whatever choice I made. But I feel sorry for whoever has to work that mess out.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

As I haven't watched the alphabet channels in 8 years, far as I'm concerned, he can pound sand in a rat hole.

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Sat, Jan 9, 2010, at 3:13 PM

I don't know why they made the change in the first place. I presumed Leno wanted it, but apparently not.

Like cheroikee2, I rarely watch them and have not watched either since the change, so I could not make a choice based on format, but if the numbers are down for O'Brien and Leno was holding his own in that slot, I expect they will change back.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Jan 9, 2010, at 3:37 PM

Late nite has suffered ever since the end of Johnny Carson

-- Posted by Dianatn on Sat, Jan 9, 2010, at 6:10 PM

I actually watched Leno's new show - 1 night. Kanye West was the guest, & it was right after he had taken the stage when Taylor Swift had received an award. I wanted to see what he had to say about his actions, not Leno.

-- Posted by bettyhbrown on Sat, Jan 9, 2010, at 9:47 PM

Steve, NBC announced five years ago that Conan would take over "The Tonight Show" this year. NBC figured that Conan represented the future; he was being courted by other networks at the time, and they didn't want to lose him. The network wanted a long, peaceful transition like the one from Tom Brokaw to Brian Williams, which they felt had been very successful.

At the time the change was announced, Jay said he was OK with it, which some people found surprising given his workaholic ways. Sure enough, as his scheduled retirement approached he began to get buyer's remorse and now it was Jay who was making noises about jumping to another network. NBC was doing miserably in prime time, meanwhile, and a year ago they decided that putting Jay in prime time was a way to cut their prime-time programming costs and keep both Jay and Conan happy.

Needless to say, it hasn't worked out.

The latest reports from web sites that are usually accurate on such matters say that Jay is definitely going to 10:30 -- the only question now is whether Conan will stay at NBC or go elsewhere. If Conan stays, as David indicated, Jay will have a half-hour show, with Conan following. Conan would probably get to keep the "Tonight Show" name as a consolation prize.

If Conan decides to jump to FOX or ABC, then Jay will get an hour-long show just like his old one, with the "Tonight Show" name. Technically, Conan is still under contract, but the rumors are that NBC has indicated that under the circumstances, it is willing to let him go. (It's presumed that Conan's contract, like Jay's before him, guarantees him the 10:30 time slot and NBC would have to pay a substantial penalty for taking it away from him. If he leaves, depending on how the contract reads, he might forfeit that penalty.)

Whatever happens, Leno has no financial worries. He works a lot in Las Vegas and other venues, and he's said in interviews that he lives off the money from those live appearances and has not touched one penny of his "Tonight Show" money. My taste in comedy runs towards Dave and Conan, but I think that's pretty amazing.

-- Posted by Jicarney on Sat, Jan 9, 2010, at 11:08 PM

I would beg Leno to come back to rival Letterman. I would inform Conan to not let the door hit him on the way out. The guy is not funny at all. I have no idea how he got to where he is.

-- Posted by thementalist on Sat, Jan 9, 2010, at 11:13 PM

I think Conan may quite possibly be the least funny comedian of all time. I seriously don't get him.

-- Posted by Nobody'sFool on Sun, Jan 10, 2010, at 12:00 AM

I miss Jay on the Tonight Show. I think NBC goofed when they made the change. We watch Jay's new show, but it is not the same. At least he still does Headlines and Jaywalking. Giving Jay a 30 minute show to me is a slap in the face to Jay. Conan has never impressed me and I have not watched the Tonight show once snce he took it over.

-- Posted by dh38583 on Sun, Jan 10, 2010, at 5:10 PM

Now we know for sure that there's no one out there capable of filling Johnny's shoes. I still miss him. I've never cared for Conan or Jay. Maybe Leno will start up his own political commentary or he could always sell chin wax.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Mon, Jan 11, 2010, at 4:16 AM

I love Conan. I am not sure of the age of other posters, but I think Conan appeals to a crowd aged 18-30. I am 26 myself and watched Conan at 11:30 and was happy when he moved to 10:30. If he gets a show on Fox, then I will watch that as well. Jimmy Fallon on the otherhad...I can't stand him!

-- Posted by Chad O on Mon, Jan 11, 2010, at 12:53 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.