NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

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NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby J.M. Vargas » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:08 pm

It's all over the news, and NBC will make it official tomorrow. From the Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3iea59cb79796a9dff323d339deee02b43

Jay Leno is staying at NBC.

The netork has signed the popular "Tonight Show" host to a new agreement whereby Leno will receive a talk show airing weeknights at 10 p.m. The move will allow NBC to keep Leno from going to a rival broadcaster without breaking the network's agreement with Conan O'Brien to take over "The Tonight Show" next year.

The new deal is expected to be announced tomorrow at a press conference.

The news comes on the heels of NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker saying the network was considering reducing its number of programming hours. With a new Leno show, NBC is, in a sense, doing just that -- moving a talk show into a slot intended for entertainment programming and leaving only two hours per weeknight to fill with original series.

Leno is expected to step down from "The Tonight Show" at end of the season; his new series would presumably start next fall. No format details are yet available, but Leno has repeatedly said he was only interested in continuing to host a show with a traditional "Tonight Show" format.

The move will take pressure off NBC's struggling entertainment department, and impacts the competitive field in significant ways. Though rivals might be disappointed that Leno will not be on the market next year, CBS and ABC will benefit by no longer having to compete with NBC's 10 p.m. drama efforts such as "Law & Order: SVU."

And though NBC is doubtless relieved to keep Leno from straying, NBC's already extensive talk-show lineup means NBC will be programming more talk-show hours than entertainment hours during the week. Conan O'Brien will have to contend with continuing as NBC's second-string talk-show host. While Jimmy Fallon, taking over "Late Night," and Carson Daly's "Last Call," now relegated to third- and fourth-string, respectively.

That's assuming, of course, that NBC leaves the rest of its late-night lineup intact.

As host of "The Tonight Show," Leno has averaged 4.8 million viewers and a 1.3 rating this season. Industry insiders say they expect NBC will be able to grow that number given the new show's earlier time period, but not to a degree that will make a talk show competitive with most dramas airing at 10 p.m.

"This is a win-win for everyone," said Shari Anne Brill, a programming expert and executive with New York-based ad buyer Carat. "Jay was not ready to call it a night. Why would you want to lose a talent like that to the other guys? Why would you want to give ABC an opportunity like that?"

Horizon Media research chief Brad Adgate said that the move would not only keep Leno at NBC but it would have the added benefit of not being as expensive as a drama that would cost millions of dollars to produce. Adgate wasn't bothered by the format, rumored to be a talk show and/or variety program.

"Talk shows work in daytime and they work in late night and they work in cable at that hour and in primetime," Adgate said. "The question, it's not so much the size of the audience as it is about can they make a profit out of it?"

He said that it's unclear whether it would have an impact on "The Tonight Show" once O'Brien takes over, but said the new program might increase Leno's younger viewership.

"Maybe he'll bring in some other viewers who may not be able to stay up late for 'The Tonight Show,' " Brill said.


My thoughts: The biggest losers in all of this mess are Conan O'Brien (with Jimmy Fallon a distant recipient of the waves) and late night talk shows in general. Will there be an appetitie for three late night comedy shows ("Tonight," "Late Night" and "Last Call") now that a similar show will air 90 minutes earlier? And that's just one network, NBC. Conan was poised to become that network's signature star and now he'll play second fiddle to the network's newest (and well established) primetime star. Unless Leno reworks his format into a hybrid involving news, variety and God-knows-what (besides stand-up and skits) most people will tune out at 11:30PM or DVR it (along with "Stewart," "Letterman," "Colbert," etc.), driving Conan's ratings further down.

If I were Conan O'Brien I'd be seriously looking at my options. Better to be a big fish in a smaller pond (ABC, Fox, etc.) than second-fiddle to Leno. Letterman walked away from his burning desire to get "The Tonight Show" when he realized it wasn't Carson's show anymore but 'The Jay Leno' show he'd be inheriting. Now that Leno will be doing the national comedy hour at 10PM nationally (and 9PM Central!) the value of "Tonight" as a franchise is seriously diminished. All of this, of course, assuming Leno's primetime ratings are sustainable over an extended period of years. And then of course there's the 'what if?' when Leno wants to retire five, ten or more years from now. But that requires long-term thinking and planning, something Zucker and Silverman have proven to not be equipped to handle.

Also, a large amount of Leno's guests on his current NBC show are actors/guest stars plugging their latest projects/appearances airing on 10PM network shows. Will 'The Jay Leno Show' (TM), for example, feature an interview with "Eleventh Hour" star Rufus Sewell on the same day/night both shows are airing at the same time? Will "Numb3rs" star Rob Morrow show up to plug his show on NBC while being opposite it? Even if the guests are scheduled to not compete against their own shows, they'd still be appearing on an NBC show that's essentially trying to take viewers away from their own show. It's different sitting on Jay's couch when he's on at 11:30PM, but at 10:00PM? He's the competition now! How freaking awkward this dynamic of a talk show fueled by star appearances competing against some of those stars' 10PM TV shows will be! Regardless, 10PM shows like "Without A Trace" and "CSI: New York" will benefit from having NBC's "Law & Order" shows (particularly "SVU," a demo magnet that bitch-slaps "WAT" in the golden 18-49 ratings) suddenly replaced by a talk/comedy show that will be considered a hit if it averages 6+ million viewers (versus the 8-11 million the "L&O" shows were pulling).

This is huge! 8)
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby mkiker2089 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:42 pm

The whole thing seems simple to me. Move the Tonight show up to be before the news, move Conan and all up, don't add another show, and call it quits.

There are a lot of AM workers who would be willing to catch the show if only it didn't mean missing work the next day.

You also have to consider the degradation of local news into this. We no longer need 3 (sometimes more, sometimes many more) airings of the local news. Sure it's nice and all, but are the ratings there? I'm thinking no since people are now bombarded with alternatives, many of which being local 24 hour news channels. The big three can't continue doing the same things and expect to keep their share as the market is clearly shrinking. NBC affiliates need to can the late night news and capture the market that otherwise tunes out at 11.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby molly1216 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:02 pm

I missed a meeting....why did Leno retire then unretire...is this going around? first lance Armstrong then Brett Favre now Leno? is it the economy or ego?
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby mavrach » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:05 pm

Randomness:

It seems odd to add the new show for Leno. Doesn't this kill the point of "Late Night" talk shows? It looks like they're breaking the format by bringing another show in so early.

I'm actually suprised Leno would even take the offer. It's obvious that he's regarded as the lesser comedian who's getting kicked out in favor of a better one. Why not keep his dignity and just quit instead of being pushed into another spot?

Speaking of which, Leno really is the lesser person. Why David Letterman isn't regarded as a comedic master, while the dull Leno consistently gets the higher ratings just stuns me. Do people really like Leno that much? Myabe I'm missing something, but Leno's show now does nothing more for me aside from putting me to sleep at a decent hour. Letterman often has me in tears laughing, his material is strange and off the wall.

I'm just nervous that Letterman will do worse against Conan. I think Conan is far more talented and likeable than Leno, and thus he deserves his new slot. If Letterman was beaten by Leno, he'll be destroyed by Conan.
+1. this is very interesting.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby molly1216 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:22 pm

i hard;y ever watch late night and when i do...it's Craig Ferguson...he isn't the same old same old.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby J.M. Vargas » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:51 pm

molly1216 wrote:I missed a meeting....why did Leno retire then unretire...is this going around?


Long story short: four years ago Conan O'Brien was seriously thinking of going to ABC or Fox for a time slot upgrade and big bucks. NBC wanted to keep Conan so, to avoid another Letterman-Leno media debacle, NBC suits announced in '04 that Leno (who was OK with this to avoid looking like the bad guy) would leave "The Tonight Show" in 2009 and Conan would take over NBC's premiere late night show then. Jimmy Fallon was paid big bucks basically to sit around and do nothing until '09 so he could take over "Late Night." Orderly transition was expected but Conan's agents/lawyers put a poison pill in the contract that, if NBC backed out on the deal, they'd pay him $50 million and release him. As '09 came closer Leno's ratings peaked while Conan was tied and even beaten by the hype-free Craig Ferguson, sending the media and NBC suits into speculative second-guessing about the whole thing.

NBC wanted to keep Leno employed as their Bob Hope-type elder statesman doing primetime specials or whatever, but Leno (who over the years since '04 felt underappreciated by NBC suits after being #1 in latenight since '96) made it known he wanted to do a late night-type show. Consensus over the past couple of years was that Leno was ABC-bound, "Nightline" would be canceled and Jimmy Kimmel would follow a new 11:30PM Leno show. Kimmel was cool with this and he and Jay have even appeared on each other's shows twice over the past year. But, because of the writer's strike last year, low ratings and the s***ty economy, NBC's primetime is in the toilet and ranked 4th (ahead only of MyNet and The CW) particularly in the 10PM hour. Only the "Law & Order" shows get decent ratings, but elsewhere (like the $4 million-per-episode "My Own Worst Enemy") NBC was bleeding money. So today NBC killed two birds in one stone: they get rid of their expensive 10PM shows (the good one's will move to 9PM or air on Sundays) replacing them with a cheap-to-make show that can be profitable even if it gets killed by the "CSI" and other 10PM network dramas, thus preventing their competitors from getting Leno to kick-start an 11:30PM franchise against a green Conan O'Brien and an old-and-fading Letterman. Basically the primetime network ratings are so low that a five days a week talk show like Leno's can be a hit if costs and a minimal threshhold of viewers is achieved. Leno's a workaholic and NBC is throwing him big bucks to do what he does now, only 90 minutes earlier and not called "The Tonight Show." So there.8)
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby Steve T Power » Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:53 am

The saddest thing in all this for me is Conan's taking over the Tonight Show. Conan has always had the edgiest, most entertaining, and downright hilarious show of the bunch. Watch the writer's strike episodes if you don't believe me. Him taking over a much higher profile show means he'll have to reign it in a considerable amount i figure, and NBC will be keeping much closer tabs n his content. No more, "Sure you can cuss on my show, NBC thought they canceled us four years ago!" jokes.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby J.M. Vargas » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:42 am

Steve T Power wrote:The saddest thing in all this for me is Conan's taking over the Tonight Show. Conan has always had the edgiest, most entertaining, and downright hilarious show of the bunch. Watch the writer's strike episodes if you don't believe me.


I have those writer's strike episodes saved on DVD and even attended the taping of one of them. It doesn't get better than Conan going down a zip live with rocket-fueled boots to prevent John Wilks Booth from killing Abe Lincoln by knocking the would-be assassin into a pile of giant bowling balls with Led Zeppelin music blaring in the background. That was pure late night comedy heaven and certainly not what I'd call 11:30 material. :mrgreen:
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby Dan Mancini » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:04 am

I guess I don't get why Leno wants a 10PM variety show or whatever it's going to be. Why not bail to ABC and whip Conan's ass in the ratings? (Personally, I like Conan [and Letterman] much better than Leno but based on the Nielsens, I'm in the minority). Legend has it that when Johnny Carson retired and NBC screwed Letterman by giving the Tonight Show to Leno, the network offered to then take the show away from Leno in order to keep Letterman. Letterman called Carson for advice and Carson basically told him to screw NBC and take the offer from CBS. At a certain point, the water becomes so poisoned there's really no point in continuing to do business with the people making these crappy decisions. I'd say Leno's hit that point. Even if the ABC deal pays less, so what? It's not like Leno's strapped for cash. If Conan moves to the 11:30 timeslot (which isn't the ideal slot for his style of humor) and has to go head-to-head with Leno, chances are he'll go down in flames. I'd hate to see it happen, but that's the likely outcome. Leno's got so much hand in this situation that if I were him, I'd present NBC with 2 options: a) I keep The Tonight Show (and you pay Conan whatever you stupidly agree to pay him), or b) I go to ABC and your decades-long dominance of the 11:30 timeslot comes to an abrupt end.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby molly1216 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:27 am

J.M. Vargas wrote:
molly1216 wrote:I missed a meeting....why did Leno retire then unretire...is this going around?


Long story short: four years ago Conan O'Brien was seriously thinking of going to ABC or Fox for a time slot upgrade and big bucks. NBC wanted to keep Conan so, to avoid another Letterman-Leno media debacle, NBC suits announced in '04 that Leno (who was OK with this to avoid looking like the bad guy) would leave "The Tonight Show" in 2009 and Conan would take over NBC's premiere late night show then. Jimmy Fallon was paid big bucks basically to sit around and do nothing until '09 so he could take over "Late Night." Orderly transition was expected but Conan's agents/lawyers put a poison pill in the contract that, if NBC backed out on the deal, they'd pay him $50 million and release him. As '09 came closer Leno's ratings peaked while Conan was tied and even beaten by the hype-free Craig Ferguson, sending the media and NBC suits into speculative second-guessing about the whole thing.

NBC wanted to keep Leno employed as their Bob Hope-type elder statesman doing primetime specials or whatever, but Leno (who over the years since '04 felt underappreciated by NBC suits after being #1 in latenight since '96) made it known he wanted to do a late night-type show. Consensus over the past couple of years was that Leno was ABC-bound, "Nightline" would be canceled and Jimmy Kimmel would follow a new 11:30PM Leno show. Kimmel was cool with this and he and Jay have even appeared on each other's shows twice over the past year. But, because of the writer's strike last year, low ratings and the s***ty economy, NBC's primetime is in the toilet and ranked 4th (ahead only of MyNet and The CW) particularly in the 10PM hour. Only the "Law & Order" shows get decent ratings, but elsewhere (like the $4 million-per-episode "My Own Worst Enemy") NBC was bleeding money. So today NBC killed two birds in one stone: they get rid of their expensive 10PM shows (the good one's will move to 9PM or air on Sundays) replacing them with a cheap-to-make show that can be profitable even if it gets killed by the "CSI" and other 10PM network dramas, thus preventing their competitors from getting Leno to kick-start an 11:30PM franchise against a green Conan O'Brien and an old-and-fading Letterman. Basically the primetime network ratings are so low that a five days a week talk show like Leno's can be a hit if costs and a minimal threshhold of viewers is achieved. Leno's a workaholic and NBC is throwing him big bucks to do what he does now, only 90 minutes earlier and not called "The Tonight Show." So there.8)


you could have just said..."It's chinatown"
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby BrettCullum » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:30 am

And you would think with the abysmal ratings and results of the ROSIE O'DONNELL VARIETY SHOW they would be even more scared. This is new territory for 10/9pm. Serialized dramas are becoming an endangered species, and more and more reality crap and talk show material is emerging as the cheapest way to hedge your bets. TV is becoming less and less creative... sigh! But then smart never survives in the network world... the whole Letterman versus Leno thing proved that. Jay is more likable, but Letterman is always much more sardonic and witty. People pick the hamburger over the steak every time. So there you are.

This all sounds crazy, but I guess you have a network that has little to loose. Well... other than it's only #1 timeslot every night...
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby Dan Mancini » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:35 am

BrettCullum wrote:And you would think with the abysmal ratings and results of the ROSIE O'DONNELL VARIETY SHOW they would be even more scared.

Why anyone would think a television variety show would work in the 21st century is beyond me. Apparently, network executives have never heard of YouTube.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby BrettCullum » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:44 am

Dan Mancini wrote:
BrettCullum wrote:And you would think with the abysmal ratings and results of the ROSIE O'DONNELL VARIETY SHOW they would be even more scared.

Why anyone would think a television variety show would work in the 21st century is beyond me. Apparently, network executives have never heard of YouTube.


It was quite simply cheap to make, and something Rosie had wanted to do ever since she was "the queen of nice" chatting up daytime guests, flinging koosh balls, and pretending to have a straight girl crush on Tom Cruise. They were curious to see if it could work, and it bombed big time. But they didn't pay much for it, so the gamble didn't do much damage.

I think if they had looked hard at YouTube they could have come up with something better. If you had the right approach a variety show could work, but it would need to be edgy, funny, and unexpected. The sad thing is they were testing the waters for a series for Rosie. Ugh! What they never realized is that we all hate her now. Has nothing to do with her coming out of the closet, and everything to do with she's way too obnoxious and self-important. I wish Barbara Walters had cut her up in an alley when she had the chance...
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby cdouglas » Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:36 am

Hmmm. I really hope this doesn't mean that Conan continues to be regarded as the second string player until Leno retires. Unfortunately, that will probably be the case. Much as I like Letterman, I think that Conan is easily the best of the bunch. Will NBC attempt to tame him for the 11:30 time slot audience? There are a lot of things that could go very wrong here.

Oh well. On the plus side, now I can watch Craig Ferguson more often. I like him, but I'm usually watching Conan instead.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby booklover » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:03 pm

Dan Mancini wrote:I guess I don't get why Leno wants a 10PM variety show or whatever it's going to be. Why not bail to ABC and whip Conan's ass in the ratings?


I agree with what you're saying. The problem is, Leno is too nice of a guy to do that.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby thelittleprince » Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:20 pm

Meh...he's trying to steal Conan's thunder. It's gonna bomb.
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Re: NBC gives Leno 10PM Show M-F starting Fall '09

Postby the5thghostbuster » Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:30 pm

BrettCullum wrote:And you would think with the abysmal ratings and results of the ROSIE O'DONNELL VARIETY SHOW they would be even more scared. This is new territory for 10/9pm. Serialized dramas are becoming an endangered species, and more and more reality crap and talk show material is emerging as the cheapest way to hedge your bets. TV is becoming less and less creative... sigh! But then smart never survives in the network world... the whole Letterman versus Leno thing proved that. Jay is more likable, but Letterman is always much more sardonic and witty. People pick the hamburger over the steak every time. So there you are.

This all sounds crazy, but I guess you have a network that has little to loose. Well... other than it's only #1 timeslot every night...


On the point bolded above, I question the degree to which they can be considered engangered. It seems to me that they are evolving and moving to alternative distribution methods which are better suited to them. What gets most of the attention these days anyway? Who you rather watch an episode of Dexteror of Law & Order? I know what I'll choose.
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