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When Leno returns to The Tonight Show, he'll have a new desk and couch!

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 22nd 2010 2:02PM
Jay LenoI'm going to give NBC Universal TV Chairman Jeff Gaspin the benefit of the doubt in this interview over at The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. If he's serious in some of the things he's saying, then it's pretty sad.

First Gaspin says that the decision to replace Conan O'Brien with Leno at 11:35 was based on "the facts," that The Tonight Show was down 49% and the affiliates were down 14% and that it "made sense to try to come up with some other formula for late night." And that was to put Leno back at 11:35 and (try to put) Conan at 12:05, which he didn't go for.

But you know what? Leno won't have Leno as his lead-in.

There's a reason why The Tonight Show's numbers were down and the local news numbers were down. It's because of what NBC did at 10pm. Execs at NBC seem to be putting a weird kind of spin on that part of the story.

Hey, I don't care if Conan stays on The Tonight Show. I never thought he'd be a good fit there and he'll probably go on to do something else that suits him better. But they only gave him seven months. There's something weird about the whole deal, but at the same time it's almost like things are back to normal with Leno at 11:35 again. This whole plan is based on the assumption that Leno is going to be number one again at 11:35. That might happen or it might not. We'll have to stay tuned for that. I bet they give him more time than they gave Conan.

Oh, and Gaspin says that the new Leno Tonight Show will be a "hybrid" of the old show and The Jay Leno Show. Which is funny, because I thought The Jay Leno Show was 98% The Tonight Show anyway (another reason it and Conan failed, no one wanted to watch two Tonight Shows in one night). Gaspin says that the desk and couch will be back, so thank God for that! (I'm hoping Gaspin's tongue was in his cheek when he said that.)

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Trisha Allen

One can tell just by the language, this crowd responding to the Leno/Conan incident is under 35. The slightly older crowd has been watching Leno for the last 15 years and are ecstatic that he will be back.. Watch his ratings sore. He did nothing wrong, give the guy some respect he justs wants his job back. You would do the same thing. Conan didn't have the ratings, because us old farts don't think he is funny. And to date there are still more of us than the younger folks. We wish both of them the best.

January 29 2010 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Trisha Allen's comment

I'm in the under 35 crowd and I still think Jay is funnier than Conan. I'm not going to go into, however, who is better. That's for each person to decide. The main point is that NBC screwed up on the whole when they moved out Leno when he had the tonight show at a number one spot simply to keep Conan from going to another network. In the end that will more than likely happen anyway. The actions of the network were unfair to both parties, so it drives me crazy to hear everyone bemoan poor Conan. Was it horrible what they did, sure, but no argument is one sided.
So yes, Trisha, I completely agree. Give Jay some respect. It wasn't fair to him that they asked him to leave in the first place if we want to play the "fairness" game.

January 29 2010 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Justa Notherguy

Unfortunately for Mr. Leno and his bosses at NBC, this story just won't go away. And their endless explanations don't seem to help much, either.

January 27 2010 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Leno can keep his show, reports indicate Coco is already headed to Fox, they already bought a new website and rumors are that Conan will be on fox very shortly...


January 26 2010 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jackie Boy!

I really couldn't care less. I will not be watching Jay just as I never watched Jay, except for the one time Howard Stern was on. Boycott Jay!! Boycott Jay!!. I can't say poor Conan because of the payof he got, but no money can buy the dream he had of Hosting the Tonight show. A promise that was made to him, by NBC and Jay agreed to it! I remember when They struck the deal! So I do feel for Conan. He was original. Jay's "Man on the Street" was stolen from Steve Allen, just toshow you how old that bit is. Dumb Ads, stolen from Letterman. also, Johnny Carson wanted Dave for his replacement. Dave and Conan were too high-brow, now Conan is my favorite, ever since Letterman started doing his left wing allegiance crap. It get's old real fast, and there's a reason there are no succesful left wing Talk shows. People don't want socialism or communism, we want the good old USA is #1, Apple Pie, and a nice Irish Kid from Boston with a dream. I hope Conan makes a big splash this Fall and goes on Fox. He will kick both of they're asses. Ratings are not that accurate, and Conan has the college kids, Madison Ave's biggest customers, which means, he also has the High School kids whose older brother or sister turned them on to him, or The 20 to 40 somethings that were there from the start. I predict Conan will come out on top.

January 25 2010 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Amen, Will!

January 23 2010 at 10:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As far as Leno vs. Letterman, there's more to it than just # of viewers in the ratings game. Letterman gets younger view, as a whole, for which CBS can charge higher ads rates. That's why Dave makes a lot more money than Jay. As for Conan, I'm not a huge fan, but he got screwed by NBC, plain and simple. Maybe the Tonight show would never have done as well with him as host, but he certainly should have been given more time & not been hampered by Jay's poor ratings with the 10PM show. Jay screwed it up for both of them, I find it hard to believe anyone thinks otherwise. Not only that, Jay has seriously damaged his own image with his actions. As for Dave's personal failings, at least he came out & told the truth, which is getting rarer & rarer with famous folks these days. Mark McGwire & John Edwards are just 2 examples; they lied repeatedly until they could lie no more. It's sad, really.

January 22 2010 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"If they had cancelled Leno and left Conan alone, they would have had to pay Leno $60 million for breach of contract."

If a show is not pulling the ratings the network thinks it should, it gets cancelled. Period. It doesn't matter how much money they've put into the production or how much they are paying the star. Every one who visits this site has a favorite show that got the axe before it's time. Not because it wasn't a good show but because of the all important 18-34 demo not being where the network wanted it to be. If they had cancelled Leno and Conan then (for whatever reasons) had a ratings boots whatever money lost to Leno would have been made back. It still goes back to what I said before. NBC doesn't want Leno but they want anyone else to have him either. So they do whatever they can to keep him.

January 22 2010 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Leno admittedly has a broader appeal than Conan or Letterman. He just does. A lot of people like stupid, boring lame jokes.

While he is a complete douche and I won't ever watch him again, I thought his 10 PM show was certainly watchable if there wasn't anything else good on or he had a particuarly interesting guest.

In the end, NBC took the easy path. They didn't want to alienate their affiliates who could have blocked the Comcast merger. And that was really what it boiled down to: a big-time kowtow.

January 22 2010 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

Leno did pretty well for 17 years and you can't say he had wonderful lead-ins at 10pm every night for all those years. What was Letterman's excuse for second place 15 out of 17 years?

Conan should have taken back his old show where he was usually funny and had some decent ratings. Instead we're stuck with Fallon. Conan hopefully will spend his millions wisely.

I'm looking forward to Leno's return.

January 22 2010 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joyce N.'s comment

If you look at the facts Leno's ratings have dropped. I for one have never liked him and I know MANY others that refused to watch Leno's Tonight Show and the Jay Leno show. NBC really dropped the ball when they put Leno on at 10 and all they're doing now is bringing the bad ratings to the Tonight Show...I can't wait till Conan comes on at 11:30 against Leno and kills him in ratings! Then everyone will see how dumb NBC is!

February 24 2010 at 10:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mark amato

Like him or hate him, Leno has and will dominate the competition at 11:30. Despite people claiming Conan had tepid 10pm lead in from Leno, Leno routinely trounced the competition, namely CBS's ratings juggernaut Letterman continually had.

All anyone should be talking about now is... where will Conan go? Fox? He won't last a year with the numbers he's been delivering at NBC. If he were smart and ego would allow it, he'd head back to Late Night or cable....

...otherwise, he's looking at another certain failure with the inevitable regret, "Why did I give up the Tonight Show when I could have sucked it up and hosted the program a half hour later??"

January 22 2010 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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