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Late-Night Letdown? Jay Leno vs. Conan

OK so this isn’t exactly a “Khanversation,” but I’m here in Pasadena covering NBC’s press day (and yes, as a result, I’ll have a ton of my typical, SK-style posts in the future) and I wanted to share this “breaking news” article that I wrote regarding the Leno/Conan situation for — enjoy!

It’s Official: Leno leaving Prime Time

It was the announcement that we all had been waiting for. In a room filled with television critics and reporters from all over the country, Chairman of NBC Entertainment Jeff Gaspin announced that starting February 12, The Jay Leno Show will no longer air at 10pm.

Gaspin says the goal for the network is to keep Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Fallon as part of their late-night lineup. Gaspin has confirmed that a proposal has been made to move the Jay Leno Show to 11:35pm, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to 12:05am, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to 1:05am.

NBC will not confirm whether any of the hosts have agreed to this proposal, but Gaspin did say they plan on having everything sorted out before the Winter Olympics begin.

Highlights of the 40-minute Q&A panel with Gaspin and NBC President of Prime Time Entertainment Angela Bromstad:

– Gaspin on how the late-night hosts reacted to the news: “Jay and Conan and Jimmy were both gracious and professional. they both understood the delicate situation that I was in. Beyond that is a private situation. When all this settles, you can ask them.”

– Why move Leno: Gaspin says this is not an NBC issue, but rather an issue for the affiliates. “It didn’t meet affiliate needs.” In some markets, it has affected their local newscasts ratings drastically.

– Gaspin on Leno’s poor ratings: “I don’t think that people didn’t watch the Jay Leno Show at 10 o’clock because of the show. People have a lot of choices at 10pm. There’s so many other choices that people thought were better. So many dramas on network and cable. I watch my DVR at 10pm. There is so much intense competition at 10 o clock.”

– Gaspin on the future of Conan: “My goal and my hope is that he will stay with the network.”

– How willl Leno and Conan overcome the perception that they’re damaged goods: Gaspin says, “Time, frankly just time. i think when they tell jokes about whats going on, it helps… they’re not doing this in the dark. Time is the best answer to the question.”

– What about Carson Daly: He can’t start at 2:05am, right? Gaspin says that Carson Daly will remain with the NBC network in some capacity, however the 2am time slot belongs to the affiliates.

Regarding other NBC shows:

– Will Heroes return next season? Bromstad says they’re sitting down with one of the creators, Tim Kring, and he’ll be pitching his views for the next season. “[Heroes has] been performing very well in it’s 8pm time slot so there’s a good chance it’ll be coming back.”

– The future of America’s Got Talent: David Hasselhoff will be leaving the show, and Howie Mandel will be replacing him.

– When asked about the option to put Friday Night Lights on the NBC schedule: Gaspin says the Friday night Lights is available as soon as March 1st

– Given the current state of the network, does NBC wish they hadn’t cancelled Southland: Bromstad says
“It was a very tough decision I personally love the show… it’s not easy to come across those auspices and that cast. However we did launch the show at 10 pm, it did fall off in terms of ratings, because of its serialized nature… it probably found a better home in cable.


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