Unfashionably Late

NBCWhen it comes to late night television, I don’t really have a horse in the race. I mean, come on, people, I’m usually in bed by 10:30 or 11. Any late night programming I watch is in the form of clips later — usually The Daily Show or Conan O’Brien or Craig Ferguson, depending on monologues and guests. (Gabby Sidibe‘s Precious appearance tour, for instance, was quite charming to keep up with.) Having said that, I still think canceling The Jay Leno Show and giving Jay Leno back an 11:30 slot is a dick move on NBC’s part.

I mean, on what planet does this make sense? Your five-day-a-week, unfunny “comedy hour” tanks at 10 PM and you get rewarded with your old time slot back? Not to mention that it’s after the well-publicized passing of the torch to Conan O’Brien, who has done the best he can with The Tonight Show‘s constraints.

And the biggest disappointment with this season-long “experiment” of NBC’s is that so many scripted dramas were canceled or put on the shelf to make room for it. There were dozens of Cassandras at the outset, telling NBC that their Troy was in deep shit if they did this, and the network soldiered forth anyhow. They got rid of Life, they dumped Southland. And for what? So local NBC affiliates could lose viewership because nobody watched Leno

I am so, so tired of the idea that replacing quality scripted drama with talk show/variety hour/reality programming is cost effective and will drive a network’s success. Clearly that’s not necessarily the case. And who suffers for it? Well, viewers. And Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly (as well as their production staffs), whose shows will all be impacted by Leno’s return to 11:30.

2 thoughts on “Unfashionably Late

  1. The irony here is that Jay Leno always had a reputation in Hollywood as “a nice guy.” Even those who thought he wasn’t funny would call him a nice guy. Well, why doesn’t he do the “nice” thing and step aside for Conan? There’s nothing sadder than someone who doesn’t know when to quit.

    Craig Ferguson summed it up as “a bunch of middle-aged white guys arguing about who gets $X million.” But I don’t think it’s really about cash. I think Jay can’t surrender the spotlight, and poor Conan is getting the shaft. He’s trying to hammer his round peg of a program into the square hole of the TONIGHT SHOW’s format. Cut Conan loose, and his ratings will pick up!


    1. Exactly. I don’t know what’s so “nice” about not bowing out gracefully.

      And I’ve heard a lot about how the Tonight Show is stifling what makes Conan who he is. Maybe he just needs to pick up and move to a different network?


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