Screwing Over Leno and Conan (Screed #28)

January 13, 2010…


We have been following this whole NBC talk show quagmire that has been brewing over the past week or so, and have to weigh in with our own opinion on it. We feel that it is ridiculous for anyone to be blaming Jay Leno or Conan O’Brien at all for the mess that has transpired. The only blame should fall at the feet of Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC. He has taken a once-proud network and reduced them to a laughing stock. He basically forced Jay Leno off The Tonight Show when he clearly wasn’t ready to give up the job, to make room for Conan O’Brien to take over. When Leno revealed that he really wasn’t ready to retire, Zucker suggested moving Leno to 10PM with a brand new show, which was clearly not a good time for a talk show to be airing, being that it would be up against dramas on other networks. It was a very risky gamble and has proven mostly disastrous, being that affiliates of NBC are losing a lot of money because of the poor ratings of The Jay Leno Show.

In the meantime, Conan has taken over The Tonight Show, but his ratings have not been that good, as well, losing every night to David Letterman. Part of this is because of the poor ratings from Leno’s show.

Now, regardless of what you think of Leno’s new show, or Conan’s version of The Tonight Show, the failures of either program are not entirely due to their hosts, but simply to the ridiculous situation NBC has created. It’s turned into one of the worst debacles in television history, and now they are trying desperately to fix their mistake. And that desperation act is what is making this whole situation that much worse.

They have told Leno that he can return to his 11:35PM slot, but his show would only be a half hour long (what can you really do in a mere half hour?), and The Tonight Show would be moved back to 12:05AM. Naturally, Conan is understandably not happy with this arrangement, and wants off of The Tonight Show altogether, to perhaps go over to Fox, who has shown interest in him. Leno, who initially agreed to being moved back to 11:35, is now upset with NBC, as well, because they have put him in a bad situation, by making him look like he is trying to screw Conan over, so that he will leave, and he can get his old gig back. It makes him look like he somehow deliberately orchestrated some coup, which is clearly not the case. He is also now threatening to leave the network, feeling that NBC did not honor their contract with him. Newcomer Jimmy Fallon is also getting screwed, by being asked to gladly suffer this debacle in having his show be moved back an extra half hour.

We have also heard that NBC may cancel Conan immediately because they fear he will continue to bash the network in his monologue. And Leno has also been taking his own potshots at NBC. Obviously, the truth hurts, and they would rather see Leno and Conan be painted as the bad guys, rather than themselves. How typical!

So there are clearly no winners in this situation, perhaps except for David Letterman, who is now #1 in the ratings. And, somehow, Jeff Zucker has gotten an extension on his contract, even though he has ruined the careers of two comedians, possibly ruined the name of The Tonight Show, and has made NBC look like total schmucks, not to mention Jay Leno. This is just another case of incompetence getting rewarded.

We’re not sure what will happen to The Tonight Show, The Jay Leno Show, or whether Leno or Conan will stay with NBC. We believe they should both look elsewhere, as NBC is not to be trusted to honor their contracts with either man.

NBC are the only villains in this story, and they learned the hard way that they should have simply left everything alone five years ago when they came up with this whole idea. Now, they want to throw two men under a bus. Only one man should be thrown under that bus, and that’s the man at the top.

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