After months of taking jabs from the media and enduring low ratings, it looks like NBC has caved — sort of. Though the network had committed to running The Jay Leno Show for one year, regardless of the ratings, the local affiliate stations were not happy with the arrangement and the weak lead-in for their newscasts.
At the TCA press tour, Jeff Gaspin (the NBC Universal Chairman of Television Entertainment) confirmed that Jay Leno is heading back to late night but he won’t be resuming his old duties on the Tonight Show — maybe.
Instead, the network is planning to cut The Jay Leno Show down to 30 minutes and run it at 11:35pm, after the local news. The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien will then shift to 12:05am and Jimmy Fallon will start at 1:05am.
Gaspin told critics, “I can confirm, starting February 12, The Jay Leno Show will no longer air at 10:00 pm. It didn’t meet our affiliates’ needs and we realized we would make a change.”
The exec concluded that he wants to keep all three hosts at NBC. “As much as I would like to tell you we have a done deal, but the talks are on going.”
The problem will be if Conan O’Brien doesn’t agree to the new timeslot, returning to essentially the same position that he left last Spring.
If O’Brien decides to leave NBC, the network would likely put Leno back into Tonight and keep it at 11:35pm. If that happens, it will be interesting to see if Leno can regain the viewers that left last Spring.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to put Leno back into late night? Is NBC making another big mistake and dissing O’Brien? Should NBC just put Leno back on The Tonight Show and be done with it?
Image courtesy NBC.