Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jay AND Conan in the 11:30 Hour? What a Mess!

Them there internets are all abuzz over reports which suggest that Jay Leno will legitimately become the Brett Favre of late night TV if he agrees to reclaim his original 11:30 p.m. slot which he famously abandoned amid a week of farewell shows, a slot that NBC -- with great pomp and circumstance -- passed on to Conan O'Brien.


Leno's 10 p.m. show has not been pulling in the kind of ratings NBC had hoped it would. I only watched the first few episodes and never turned in again. (Though I did tune in when Kanye West gave his first public statement about his Taylor Swiftus-interruptus.) I found the show awkward and, frankly, unfunny. (Plus his set looked cheap.) I much preferred to watch Conan at 11:30, especially since I've jumped off the Letterman ship.

Is Leno going to go along with the unceremonious shoving of the ever-patient Conan out of the 11:30 slot, forcing the younger comic back to midnight? That's what the New York Times' Media Decoder is reporting:

"Pressed by affiliates and shrinking ratings, NBC has a plan in the works to radically alter its late-night television lineup, restoring Jay Leno to his old spot at 11:35 each weeknight, while pushing the man who replaced him, Conan O'Brien, to a starting time of 12:05 a.m.

NBC executives held extensive discussions with Mr. Leno and Mr. O'Brien on Thursday about the future of the network's late-night lineups.

And while NBC official said no final decision on the plan had been made, two senior NBC executives who had talked to the top management about the moves said that under the plan being discussed, Mr. Leno would definitely shift back to 11:35 but in a half-hour format, while Mr. O'Brien would slide back his start time by a half hour and then produce an hourlong show."

This entire Leno show debacle -- where five hours of primetime that used to be filled with costlier scripted dramas and comedies were sacrificed in exchange for a less expensive talk show format that NBC suits hoped would yield ratings for less money -- is a huge embarrassment for NBC, particularly after all the money and time they spent promoting the new lineup and all the press Leno got for his 10 o'clock chat show.

My questions: Why would Conan agree to such a demotion? Why would Leno take a giant step back? What does this mean for Jimmy Fallon, if anything? On the plus side, will this mean we'll be seeing more scripted TV?

Image credit: NBC via the New York Times.

No comments: