Friday, January 15, 2010

Leno equals barf in my book

I know there are people out there who like Jay Leno. I am not one of them. So I'm saddened to hear he's going back to The Tonight Show and ousting Conan O'Brien. I'm flabbergasted by NBC execs who think it's a good move to mess with a show that has been running for 60 years. I mean, seriously, is nothing sacred? Here's a statement O'Brien released:
People of Earth:

In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky. That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.




Rachele said...

I like both Leno and Conan. I am 100% behind Conan in this whole mess. It is, as I understand it, Conan vs NBC, not conan vs leno. Regardless, I think it would be classy of Leno to just step down and move along.

Megan said...

I think it's most definitely a Leno vs. Conan thing, too. While NBC is still the ultimate douchebag in all this, it's Leno's show that has failed, Leno is trying to go back to late night, and that's where Conan starts getting screwed.

Bruce said...

You can blame all of this on the NBC crowd. Here's the data I've gleaned from the National Association of Broadcasters data:

1) Leno's show, although far behind scripted dramas, was hitting the viewership numbers NBC had predicted. NBC had deemed the lesser audience to be worth the lower production costs. However:

2) What NBC had not accurately predicted was the hit taken by the network affiliate stations that were seeing a painful drop in news viewership, i.e., poor pull-through.

3) Conan was, sadly, losing ground to Letterman in overall viewership and, more importantly, he had lost the important edge he had previously in the 19-40 yo viewership; Letterman had pulled equal in that demographic.

So, Leno primetime was killing the local affiliates, Conan was losing ground even to a wounded Letterman. Were I NBC, I would Nuke both Leno and Conan and put Fallon into the Tonight Show.

Full disclosure: I like Letterman much more than Leno and I find Conan and Richter actually very annoying. The idea of Conan going to Fox, though, amuses me no end.

Christie said...

Bruce - I LOVE LETTERMAN! I think he's awesome and have never understood why he doesn't do better in the ratings.

I've been watching some old clips on of Leno and Conan talking about this whole mess, and Conan's jokes always have me laughing, Leno's just seem tired and lame.

But, I don't regularly watch late night shows so when it comes down to it, I don't really care about any of it. It does seem, though, that Leno is the one being kind of a jerk.

Amber said...

I don't have a huge opinion about them as TV hosts but Leno is, without question (in my mind anyway), the original douche because he wanted to retire in freaking 2003 so NBC got Conan on board and then Leno tried to change his mind so NBC had to kiss his ass and get him a show on at 10... which would seem to steal some thunder from Conan...and now the whole things is a mess. How'd you like that run-on???

B. E. Busby said...

Meh -- behind the laughter is an ugly, competitive bidness:

Now... if they were to give Jon Stewart that time slot, he'd slay everybody:

Christie said...

Busby - Yeah, I caught that Times article. Ebersol comes off (to me anyway) as one big old turd. You're right, Stewart would make a killing.

Cathy said...

I like the Leno Show, but only because I like the option of having something funny to watch instead of reruns of Law and Order all the time... The could put any comic at that time and I'd be happy, but it doesn't sound like that's going to happen.

Sadly, I go to bed too early to know Conan - although the one night last week I couldn't sleep I though Conan was hilarious.