Monday, December 08, 2008

NBC to give Jay Leno a new nightly show at 10 PM

Call me stunned or shocked, or what you will. NBC is announcing that it is forgoing the 10 PM prime time drama slot to air a nightly talk show featuring Jay Leno. I don't know what makes them think this will be a success. People watch the CSI and Law and Order dramas. What makes them think that something like this will get ratings? What about shows like Medium?
NBC will keep Jay Leno five nights a week, but in prime time, competing not with David Letterman, but with shows like “C.S.I. Miami.” The network will announce Tuesday that Mr. Leno’s new show will appear at 10 o’clock each weeknight in a format similar to “The Tonight Show,” which he has hosted since 1993.

Five years ago NBC announced that it would hand the job of host of that franchise show to Conan O’Brien in May of 2010. Since then the network has maneuvered to try to keep Mr. Leno, who continues to be the late-night ratings leader, in some capacity, fearing that he could leave and start a new late-night show on a competitor. “The Tonight Show” is seen at 11:35 weeknights.

Mr. Leno was known to have suitors, including ABC, the Fox network and the Sony television studio. But he was apparently convinced to stay at NBC after aggressive personal wooing by Jeff Zucker, the NBC Universal chief executive, a unit of General Electric.

Retaining Mr. Leno will undoubtedly be seen as a personal coup for Mr. Zucker, who has faced some serious questions about the wisdom of guaranteeing “The Tonight Show” to Mr. O’Brien and possibly losing Mr. Leno to another network.

Details of Mr. Leno’s agreement and the new show were provided by NBC executives who were briefed on the matter and who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the project until the network made its announcement.

The new show, which will begin next fall, is expected to be set in Mr. Leno’s long-time studio in Burbank, Calif. Mr. Leno is expected to retain many of the most popular elements of his “Tonight Show,” including his monologue and bits like “Headlines” and “Jay Walking.”

Mr. O’Brien will move the “Tonight Show” to a new studio on the NBC Universal lot in Universal City, Calif., in May. Mr. Leno, who is known to want to work as much as possible, would then only miss three months on the air, and would use that time to prepare his new show.

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