Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tonight Show R.I.P., part 2

The Late Shift, Part II

Leno's ratings have gone DOWN amidst the controversy, Conan's have gone up. Who has ratings that lower when their name is in every news paper, on every news website, and part of just about every single news broadcast every single day since this whole controversy started? You know you're backing the wrong horse when people are not only not interested in the controversy enough to tune into the program, but that people tune out because of it. Conversely, O'Brien has practically doubled his ratings. This could have been his "Hugh Grant moment," sadly, NBC can't even see more than a few months ahead.

Conan passed on a much more lucrative contract to host The Tonight Show. NBC probably offered The Tonight Show precisely because they didn't want the competition (a common theme). NBC appears to be the ones who forced Jay into retirement. Jay then was available to go to other networks, and NBC didn't want Jay to be competition. So they offered him a 10:00 PM weekday talk show. His show is canceled. So they decided that they didn't want Jay leaving the network so they hatched up a plan to put Jay into his old spot and throw Conan to 12:05. This would have also pushed Late Night to 1:05, and Last Call (should it survive the move) to 2:05. The Leno move would have been disastrous for The Tonight Show, Late Night, and even the already paltry viewership of Last Call. Instead of just letting him go like any sane person would have done, they're rewarding him with his old timeslot back (and with Conan leaving, his old job back). Say what you want, but "The Jay Leno Show" at 11:35 may as well have been called "The Tonight Show" had Conan stuck around. NBC had and has no respect for the brand.

Conan put out a letter saying that he would rather leave the show than take part in this move that would destroy The Tonight Show. It appears that this only made the execs more headstrong in their opinion. Leno lays low, and doesn't say much. More than 10 days later Leno comes out and says he's a "victim" and is basically being forced to retake The Tonight Show because Conan is leaving.

Was he really "forced out" in the first place?

From all I've seen (strictly from the outside), I don't think that Leno was actually "forced out" - this seems to be historical revisionism by Leno (and his fans) as it probably was just simple regret that began to form years after he decided it was "time to leave." The decision seems amicable, otherwise why the hell would he later decide to return to NBC? The deal for "The Jay Leno Show" came years after he agreed to "retire" from The Tonight Show. If he had "bad blood" due to being "forced out" why wouldn't he just go to ABC, likely for more money than NBC would offer?

Certainly he was given better treatment than the way that he was rumored to have treated Johnny Carson. Forcing Carson out and making sure that Carson's chosen replacement, Dave Letterman didn't get the job. He also made a huge publicized stink about how he would basically "leave NBC if Letterman got the job."

All this puts in perspective the "oh gee, sorry Conan for taking the Tonight Show's timeslot, oh well" attitude that he's been pushing these past days.

(Even More to Come)

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