NBC Tells Conan To Move Over For Leno

Published 5 years ago by , Updated January 12th, 2010 at 8:54 pm,

leno conan NBC Tells Conan To Move Over For Leno

For the past 24-hours I have been reading so many different stories relating to The Jay Leno Show and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and NBC. After sifting through all the rumors, gossip and alien conspiracies (I told you I read many different stories) I think I finally understand what’s going on and since it’s coming from NBC, I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s another horrible decision.

It appears that The Jay Leno Show’s ratings having been so mediocre that NBC is going to shorten the show to 30min and move Leno back to his previous 11:30PM time slot. Conan (and The Tonight Show) in turn will be pushed back to the midnight to 1AM time slot.

I can tell you that if I was Conan I wouldn’t be happy at all. In fact, I’d be so mad that I probably would have broken my Ecto-1 Hallmark ornament that I have on my desk. And I love my Ecto-1 Hallmark ornament. Good thing NBC brought the horrible decision makers with them to give Conan another option if he’s not up for the whole “bait & switch” routine; leave the network.

For someone that doesn’t really have time to watch Late-night programming, I shouldn’t care… but I do. A lot!

The only problem is that I don’t know who to be more upset with; Jay Leno or NBC. Obviously they’re both to blame, but Leno has been walking around like his “you know what” doesn’t stink for some time and NBC love standing right behind him telling him how wonderful the smell is back there. When will someone at the network finally wake up and realize that Leno, however great they may have thought he once was, has worn out his welcome.

leno car NBC Tells Conan To Move Over For LenoWhat’s that? You sure it’s not Top Gear?

Let’s not even get into the whole Johnny Carson wanted David Letterman to take over The Tonight Show and not Jay Leno (which is why after leaving The Tonight Show Carson would only appear on The Late Show with David Letterman), The Jay Leno show is a huge failure. It seemed as if everyone outside of NBC knew it was going to fail in a big bad way and boy did it live up to everyone’s expectations.

Sure, when you look at it from a network point of view, the show somewhat succeeded. The cost of production was significantly less than what a drama would be in that time slot and the ratings weren’t too low in comparison to the price, but when you factored in the local affiliates… that’s when the game changes.

The local affiliates took the major hit. Across the country, ratings were down 30%-40% in local markets and while that’s never a good thing, the fact that The Jay Leno Show was the lead-in to the 11PM news means everything. The 11PM news cast is where the local affiliates receive their highest ratings and make all their money because unlike primetime programming (where they’re allowed to sell a certain number of commercial spots per hour), the affiliates are able to sell all the commercial spots for the 11PM news. Now, with 40% of your audience gone, guess where your all your ad dollars go? Exactly… down the Leno-bowl.

conan face NBC Tells Conan To Move Over For LenoConan also found out it’s not Top Gear.

The problem became so bad that NBC had to do something, but was this the right option? No, not at all. For some reason, NBC treats Leno as some type of savior figure which in turn has completely screwed up their network.

So, what’s going to happen now? I have no idea. Conan can’t be happy about this, but I don’t exactly see him just walking away. He literally relocated his entire show (staff included) to the west coast. Still, he can’t stand for that, but what other option does he have?

In the end, who wins in all this?

Is it the viewers who get to now watch a 30min version of a show they didn’t watch in the first place? Nope.

Is it Conan who specifically had a $40 million clause in his contract so this specific thing wouldn’t happen? Nope.

Is it Jimmy Fallon who people forget is also impacted by all this mess? Nope

So, who wins?

Well, the jury’s still out on that one, but what I do know is that a bunch of long-shot bets have just paid off. I should have listened to Vizzini when he said, “Never go in against a Leno when an 11:30PM time slot is on the line!”

vizzini NBC Tells Conan To Move Over For Leno

…or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Princess Bride.

I’m sure by now you know how I feel, but since I’m the romantic type, I want to know how you feel as well.

Don’t forget to catch the last of the hour-long The Jay Leno Show weeknights at 10PM on NBC and make sure to tune into The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien weeknights at 11:30PM because who knows that’s going to happen.

(Since this is still developing, we’ll continue to update this story as more information is it is released)

Source: The New York Times

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  1. Seinfeld was right when, as the first guest on Leno’s show said:

    “You know, Jay, when we ended my show, it ended.”

    I think everyone expected the Jay Leno show to be something unique and experimental from what he did on the Tonight Show, but it was just changing the wallpaper. They took the desk away, re-arranged the order of skits, lowered the actual level of humor (‘ten at ten’, anyone?), and oddly enough, some of his top-billing interviews were conducted via satellite. It made for very discomforting television and I’m not surprised something had to happen, but this does not sound like a solution.

  2. I use to watch “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” I was in high school, so it was about six years ago, but I watched it.

    I hated that Conan moved to an earlier time. I would try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, realize I couldn’t, get up and watch “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Perfect.

    O’Brien is definitely getting the shaft. Jay Leno isn’t funny anymore and just because his ego has gotten bigger than his head (courtesy of NBC) doesn’t mean he can dump all over Conan.

  3. I think at this point it’s not longer about winning, but more about not failing as hard. Which is pretty much just saying that NBC doesn’t want to admit they made a mistake with this show.

    I mean if they’d simply said “well we tried something different, it didn’t work out, now back to our regularly scheduled programming” it wouldn’t have been so bad, but from my point of view, what they’re actually saying is “we tried something different, but clearly it was half an hour too long and on too early, don’t worry, we’ve just got to tweak this genius formula and it’ll be the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

    They just need to let it die and bring us more scripted TV.

  4. They should leave CONAN alone. Leno is done. Time to put
    that animal down.

  5. This makes me mad at NBC. Though I never watched it as I am usually at work by 6 or 7, but Conan is awesome. I was happy he got the big slot. You can’t just mess with it all at this point with how much of a big deal they made out of this. They need to drop Leno and go from there. Since they wont though I encourage Conan to leave. He can get a show on almost any network probably so just leave and screw them over. Leave them with Fallon (is it on anymore? Don’t care, he was horrible on SNL and I am sure worse now).

  6. I didn’t know Seinfeld said that on the very first show. Very ballsy thing to say, to be blunt, but he needed to say it. I stopped caring for late night television years back, but, even when I DID watch Leno, I kept thinking “shouldn’t I be laughing now?” People who have attained a certain level of power are loath to give it up, and are among the last to claim fault for their abuses of it. Let Conan have his chance to carve something new. If nothing else, his commitment to jump coastlines ought to be honored. That, and I generally found him more funny than Leno. Not Stephen Colbert, though that’s another story. :)

  7. Wow, so it looks like the Boston NBC affiliate was right. When the leno move to 10 was announced they said they were not going to play it because it was a horrible idea and would lose ratings, then NBC threatened to take away the affiliation and boston nbc gave in. They must have a collective smile on their face over at Boston.

  8. Two thoughts:

    First, I believe it’s Conan that failed, not Jay Leno. Leno was beating Letterman in the ratings. Conan wasn’t. People thought he would attract a younger audience but that never materialized.

    Second, don’t forget that NBC just sold itself to Comcast. Everything they’ve done should be viewed in that context. The whole Leno experiment was NBC slashing its expenses to make itself look like a more attractive purchase. Now that the deal has been made, the new owners are making some changes which apparently include airing shows at 10pm again.

  9. I think jerseycajun nails it when he or she points out that all Leno really did was move his show into a prime-time slot. Rose is wrong to suggest that Conan has failed. The comp between Letterman and Leno was always tough. Conan was going to need time to build an audience. In addition, Letterman has picked up some audience based on the politics he’s evinced in the last few years (and lost some audience as well). Leno on the other hand has completely failed to translate his late night success to prime time.

    If I were NBC, I’d put the Leno show on hiatus and bring in some people to work with Leno with the intention of completely shaking up the format. Go for something radically different. Maybe something intimate like location interviews, or something live and improvisational where the guests do sketch comedy but not interviews. Or better yet, something even wilder than that.

    Right now the impression is that Leno and NBC are going to royally screw yet another late-night colleague. Really two, as Fallon’s show is going to get pushed back deeper into the late night wilderness, unless of course Conan bolts. I can’t imagine why Jay would want to further foster that rep, or why NBC imagines Jay could easily recapture his audience after a move like this.

    As far as Conan bolting, the big question is where to? ABC has Kimmel, who admittedly is the weak little brother in the late night battles. Is Fox looking for a late night chat show?

  10. I did like/watch the Leno show at 10/9 central b/c I can rarely stay awake for a late night show and it was on right before I was settling in for the evening news. HOWEVER if I did intend to stay awake for a late night show my choice would always be Conan or Letterman and NEVER Leno. The show is, was and always will be mediocre at best – the only thing interesting about the show at all is sometimes the guests. NBC needs to cut the cord from late night Leno. I and everyone I know would always watch Letterman over Leno, but Conan over Letterman. I know NO one who watches/likes Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson beats Jimmy HANDS down for Late-Late night.

  11. What a big steaming pile of BS NBC has become Leno BLOWS I was always waiting for Conan to take over and make the show funny again I use to watch Carson when I was a kid and when leno took over I stopped watching but I would watch Conan because he made me laugh from the get go leno is just lame I mean Blah Blah Blah I like old cars OOOOOOOO thats funny NOT this is why they are just above the history channel in the ratings because they make stupid choices like this one its time to PARK LENO AT THE CURB

  12. Whether you like Conan or Jay or neither, can we all just agree that this is a scummy move by both NBC and Leno. If Leno had any class or decency he would just let them cancel his show and leave everything else as it is. Isn’t he always bragging about how he saves all his Tonight Show money and lives off his stand up money? Great, Jay, so go and do that.

  13. They are both undertalented overpaid egomaniacal nothings who have somehow managed to reach a lofted plateau where they can not just belive their own publicity but actually write it.

    Neither is funny – neither has talent. Neither should be employed

  14. I whole heartedly agree with this article-Leno is not funny and any show he is heading up stinks. I like Conan only marginally better but he seems to be bored during his monologues. Late night shows are like processed meat usually-guests and host are all in agreement what they will and will not talk about and it’s usually nothing even remotely new or unknown. The notable exception is Craig Ferguson-he is funny and off the wall.

  15. I like Leno and Conan but Leno isn’t in the same league as Mr obrian. This is just stupid.

  16. Conan was nver given a chance .
    He cant establish imself in his own right while the guy who used to have his job is hanging around .
    NBC should honor their original contact with Leno,
    Promote both shows as much as possible ,
    And cut Leno loose as soon as his contact expires.
    Conan Should Accept the Midnight deal.
    Then when Lenos Contract is up,
    NBC has to choose between them.
    Thats a much better option For Conan then quitting and finding another job .

  17. Haha! Thanks for the Princess Bride reference! That made my day.
    Conan is a lot funnier than Leno. What a bummer that Conan’s show has to get impacted by this.

  18. Go away Leno and take the rest of NBC with you.

  19. The execs at nbc that have pulled this off should be fired. This won’t add any long term ratings and is a complete kick in the balls to Conan.

    Nbc is so arsbackwards that they won’t wait for Conan to sink into his time slot. Sometimes its takes a year or so, but that’s just not fast enough for the bean counters at Nbc. A Network strapped by ignorance and greed.
    Leno will garner some shake up buzz and then the ratings will drop to even lower numbers then Conan, while the public will look down upon the network in the long fun for screwing Conan.
    Real good move nbc execs. !!

  20. It amazes me how anyone is still watching either of these boring shows nowadays. None of them have ever been comparable to the quality late-night programming that is he Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

    I mean for almost every night, Jon Stewart manages to invite interesting people and ask intelligent and RELEVANT questions to them. Not to mention the fantastic humour the show uses by mixing sweet, sweet irony along with actual daily news.

    The Daily Show is on a completely different level of playing field compared to Conan and Leno. An original concept for a late night talk show for the average intelligent thinking person. That is, for those that are smart enough to actually understand sarcasm and irony when they see it.

  21. The Daily Show is horrible. Stewart is incredibly unfunny for being a so called comedian. Colbert was ok for a little while but got old real fast. Stewart is an unfunny guy running the most biased talk/news show on television. Also running numerous idiotic fake news segments.

  22. I can’t believe they’re doing this to Conan.. Never got myself to watch Leno’s show – never funny.

  23. @anakin

    While I disagree with Daniel that Stewart isn’t funny, the problem with The Daily Show is that it only appeals to about 30% of the TV audience due to its point of view. Shows like Leno try to stay at least partially neutral in their political humor to appeal to a broader base, and perhaps that makes them a bit less interesting.


  24. The only guy I watch regularly is Craig Ferguson. He is funnier than Leno, Conan, Fallon, Kimmel and Dave combined. I actually DVR his show every night so I can catch it the next day. HOWEVER, this is a scummy move by NBC. I’m not a fan of Conan’s, but he at least deserved a shot to build up the show.

  25. In my opinion, Jay Leno is mostly boring with a few funny jokes here and there. On the other hand, I find Conan to be hilarious and charming. Also I love Jimmy. His show may be aimed at an audience of young adults, but I have heard many older folks talk about how they like the show too. His show is a wonderful mix of SNL and talk show. I find it extremely unfortunate that I will have to stay up a half hour later to watch the shows I love. I can also tell you that I will not be watching Leno.

  26. True, Craig Ferguson is the funniest of them all. British humor… Somebody remember when TIME magazine called the Jay Leno Show “the future of television”? I guess there is NO future for television. YouTube, Hulu, and others are on the right track.