Have you been following the failed experiment of The Jay Leno Show at 10 pm on NBC? The program has performed so poorly that network affiliates have demanded it be taken out of prime time. It was named the Worst Show of the Year by several prominent entertainment writers and it really is a suckfest. But the network is now planning to punish its late-night hosts to appease Jay.
Now they want to move Jay back to 11:35 pm, push Conan to midnight and Jimmy Fallon to 1 am. Conan hosts The Tonight Show now. How can it be called The Tonight Show when it’s no longer on tonight, but tomorrow morning? But here’s the real problem I have with this plan. It was time to reward Conan for solid ratings and for sticking with the later show for so long. But they didn’t want to shuffle someone as legendary as Jay out the door so they put him in prime time. It didn’t work. But now instead of shaking his hand, signing off on the millions and allowing him to do, say, a series of specials or some such thing, they plan to shove the rest of the schedule around to put him back in late night. This is wrong.
I’ve seen this happen many times in broadcasting. There are guys (and they are mainly guys) who are living on past glory, not bringing the goods on air but being moved around at others’ expense, just because. The audience has spoken. Jay Leno had his day. It was a very long, very good day. He is a multi-gazillionaire and he isn’t hurting in any way. It’s time for him to bow out gracefully and go polish his classic car collection between stand-up gigs. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it looks like an awfully good life, to me.