I’ve been watching with rapt attention as NBC has been wiping the sweat off of it’s peacock’s brow, sweat that comes from a combination of watching their late night programming unravel and an eerie feeling that they’ve been down this road before.
Poor Conan O’Brien.
Poor Jay Leno.
Poor… well, I think Jimmy Fallon is just pleased to have a show, actually. I guess would be, too.
The problem? The Jay Leno Show (10-11pm M-F) is garnering a respectable audience, but affiliates (places like WILX, Lansing and WDIV, Detroit) don’t think it’s been a ratings boon, at least as far as their 11pm newscast audience goes. Jay’s show is brand new — a brand new time slot, a brand new format, a brand new experiment — but the powerful affiliates don’t buy it.
The solution? NBC has always stood by their lovable Leno. They couldn’t can him. Just like in the early 90’s, when David Letterman was the heir apparent for The Tonight Show, they went with Jay because, at least in part, he was loyal. Jay got the gig after Carson left, which sent Dave over to CBS. The rest is history. Incidentally, Letterman is the ratings winner of the 11:35 time slot today — by quite a bit, actually.
So, no — they probably won’t let Jay go. But what if…
What if they moved Jay back to his 11:35 spot, the one that he loved so much and proved his ability to grow the biggest audience?
But what about Conan?
Conan. (I would mention Fallon in this cascade, but again, he’s just waving in the background and grinning. I would be, too).
Well… what if Jay did The Jay Leno Show (new and improved) from 11:35 to 12:05, making his a half-hour show, which would then only push Conan back to 12:05, which is when Jimmy Kimmel fires it up on ABC? Then, Jay would go back against Letterman at 11:35, win the late night audience back to NBC, and then everyone would be happy. Affiliates… Jay… Conan. Well… maybe not Conan.
Enter the FOX network. Just yesterday, FOX said, in essence, “Hey, Conan — come on over.” Will it happen? I think it should, and here’s why. If you can’t trust your contract… what have you really got going for you? If my boss says “You can take a 1 hour lunch break” and then yells at me for being gone for 1 hour, then where’s the logic?
Conan: get outta there. Don’t think that they’ll do you — or anyone else (besides Jay) — right.
These are my thoughts.
In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. But I do find it rather interesting.
Showbusiness shows us the best and worst of the human heart. I guess.
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